VMware Acquisition Boosts Shavlik Channel, Market Reach

While VMware's vision for Shavlik Technologies' product line is still unclear, its acquisition of the patch and IT management vendor could give Shavik's channel expanded reach into new markets and the opportunity to "ramp up" on virtualization offerings.

The New Brighton, Minn.-based Shavlik Technologies entered into a definitive agreement to be acquired by virtualization giant VMware Monday, in a deal that's expected to be completed later this quarter.

VMware's acquisition of Shavlik , announced Monday, seemed to be a good fit, executives say.

"It is an exciting time for us to be joining VMware as it builds on our expertise in delivering IT solutions to SMBs, an area we have been dedicated to for many years," said Shavlik CEO Mark Shavlik, in a statement.

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For VMware, Shavlik will provide access to a plethora of cloud-based SMB patch and IT management tools, and allow it to push virtualization down market.

For Shavlik, executives say that the acquisition will greatly expand the company's global market presence, and ultimately its product portfolio, as well as give it access to VMware's 30,000 channel partners and spate of robust programs.

"For our channel enablement, it's fantastic. All of a sudden we've got a global reach, and we can take advantage and engage its 30,000 plus channel partners and leverage their channel enablement richness," said Jason Tober, Shavlik vice president of sales and business development. "For us, it’s a broader set of tools, its broader reach."

Meanwhile, Shavlik channel partners are generally optimistic about the possible opportunities and expanded reach created by the acquisition.

Will Gray, sales manager at U.K.-based security and compliance VAR Satisnet , said that one of the biggest benefits will be to have the backing of VMware's strong brand and marketing capabilities behind Shavlik's patch management products, especially as more and more customers --existing and new -- request cloud-based solutions. Gray added that he anticipates that the majority of his customers would likely adopt cloud solutions in the next two to three years.

"We see the biggest advantage is just to increase the penetration even further," Gray said. "When we look at the customers that we have locally, there's a massive adoption of the cloud, and significant adoption of virtual platforms."

Meanwhile, Shavlik still has a wide range of on-premise patch and IT management solutions in its portfolio. While Gray said that communication was strong from both VMware and Shavlik regarding the initial news of the acquisition, the transition was cause for "a little bit of nervousness" about the long-term implications of the acquisition on Shavlik's existing product line.

"I'm interested to hear more about that, what the actual plans of VMware are for the business," Gray said. "I would guess that's an additional benefit for VMware, it acquired a company that has a mix of cloud and on-premise technology. At least I certainly hope so. "

For the time being, it's "business as usual," Tober said, adding that Shavlik had "no plans to phase out products" and will continue to offer both its cloud and on-premise solutions.

Next: Shavlik To Offer Virtualization Management For SMB

Down the road, the merged company will offer virtualization and cloud-based, centralized IT management services, simplified deployment and automation and automated IT management services for the SMB, which will enable lower markets to easily manage core IT functions, such as asset management, security, business continuity and data protection, in addition to patch management, compliance, and configuration management.

Specific integrated product lines have yet to be determined, Tober said.

"We've always had our eye on virtualization management," Tober said. "The road maps for the year included a virtualization management component. With this acquisition, we expect to build out in a more robust fashion and accelerate the new technology and new capabilities to market."

Gray said that he plans to expand Satisnet's customer base and target market following the acquisition. Also a VMware partner, the security management VAR has primarily conducted the majority of its business in the SMB and lower mid-market, but will likely expand its enterprise customer base as it becomes more proficient at VMware's offerings, he said. Conversely, the VMware-Shavlik marriage will also allow Satisnet to start new conversations with its existing SMB customers about adoption of virtual and cloud infrastructure.

"We're looking to do more with VMware. Absolutely this presents a good opportunity for us to ramp up," he said. "We probably need to look at which areas of VMware suites of products we need to get certified on and try to form a plan. There will be some additional training, and expanding into new areas, but we don’t see that as a bad thing."

Prior to the acquisition, Shavlik had paved the way for future virtualization push, or possible acquisition, by investing heavily in cloud-based IT and patch management products for SMBs, in addition to the company's software and other on-premise offerings.

Both Shavlik and VMware had been joining forces since 2005, a partnership that eventually produced VMware Go in 2009, a collaborative SaaS offering aimed at assisting SMBs with rapid deployment and management of VMware's vSphere.

And last year, Shavlik announced two new cloud platforms germane to its existing core competencies -- PatchCloud and OpsCloud -- which share underlying infrastructure but deliver patch management services via different deployment models, aimed at enterprise and SMB respectively.

For the time being, Shavlik will maintain its current channel program, which was upgraded earlier this year to include certifications and a tiered structure, with more investment from Shavlik around training, co-marketing and outreach. Prior to the acquisition, more than 50 percent of Shavlik's U.S. business was done direct, however, that ratio will likely change down the road, Tober said.

Tober said that the two companies were "working through" what the joint channel enablement program and migration strategies would look like down the road, but said that in light of VMware's history of strong channel programs, the combined company would likely enable Shavlik to expand its channel program and offer more attractive margins and features.

Tober said that he hoped to see an integrated channel program, providing Shavlik partners the ability to access VMware's broad virtualization and cloud portfolio, at some point within the year.

"I expect that our partners and new partners will have a better, richer experience," he said. "I certainly hope that nobody falls through the cracks."