EMC VP Hollis: VCE, Vblocks Not For All Partners

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EMC Vice President of Global Marketing and CTO Chuck Hollis, a 15-year EMC veteran and one of the driving forces behind the storage giant's private cloud offensive, spoke with CRN Editor News Steven Burke at national solution provider GreenPages' annual Solutions Summit about the Virtual Computing Environment (VCE) coalition with VMware, Cisco and EMC and the Vblock building blocks partners are selling to bring private clouds to businesses.

How many partners are out there fully engaged with the skills to sell Vblocks?

VCE and Vblocks aren't for every partner. You are talking about very, very daunting certifications. You have to go through the whole EMC portfolio, the whole VMware portfolio, a lot of the Cisco portfolio, networking servers, management security, backup, project management. So we don't have a long list of people who are Vblock- and VCE-certified. My personal view is that is not a bad thing. If someone is able to make that investment, they get access to a very premium market that wants to move very, very quickly. I am sure over time the certifications will get more streamlined and more rationalized. But the people who have made the investment in how to go sell Vblocks tell me anecdotally they have no shortage of people to go talk to.

How many partners are selling Vblock now?

Probably a couple of dozen around the world. Some of those are traditional resellers with value-add models like Forsythe and folks like CSC. This is not something where we want everybody in the world selling Vblocks door to door.

What is the market demographic you are looking for?

Let's start with the customers. You walk into a shop and they are doing the virtualization thing. We don't have to talk to them about virtualization. They want to do more and go faster. They have a backlog of new applications they want to put up in a virtualized environment very quickly. Whatever they did with virtualization 1.0 isn't going to cut it for virtualization 2.0, and so they are kind of casting around for a bigger, more mature infrastructure.

The third thing we find in these customers is progressive leadership. There are usually one or more people in the organization who have a clear view of where they want to be. I call that a 'proactive' IT stance rather than a 'reactive' one. By industry it covers the gamut from health care to financial services and retail, lots of different industries. Geographically, [it covers] North America, Western Europe, Australia, New Zealand, [with] strong initial waves of interest in some of the Asian countries.

Perhaps the most interesting split is traditional enterprise IT vs. service providers. We have seen a number of service provider organizations coming from a hosting model or an ISP model or some other predecessor models buying Vblocks and using them to operate a variety of services: infrastructure as a service, platform as a service and software as a service.

In many ways you can look at these new service providers as a new channel forming. Traditional IT channels were buying and selling technology that landed at a customer's data center floor. Well, what if I want to consume that as a service? I think that we all would be well served when we fully understand that when you have cloud and IT as a service, disruption happens end to end. Not only in the IT organization and the vendors, but in distribution channels as well.

Wouldn't it be great for a partner to go to a prospective client and say, 'Here is what I can do for you: I will give you a choice -- you can consume it the traditional way by buying a bunch of technology and putting it on the floor or I will give you a by-the-drink option to consume it dynamically and, by the way, I will let you change your mind anytime whether you want to do this as a service or traditional way.' I think that is going to be the hot spot for the next three years as we see traditional value-added distribution and reseller models and systems integrator models meet this world of service providers that offer IT as a service. Customers need both. It is not that one is better than the other. You have a roster of 30 to 300 applications in an IT organization and it is pretty clear which ones need to run in the data center and which ones could run somewhere else or some combination.

The real gold ring on the table here is who owns the trusted relationship with the customer and may make these decisions.


NEXT: Who Owns The Trusted Relationship?

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