VMware Sales Veteran Charts Growth As Pinnacle Partner TeraSky’s New CRO

‘There’s a very unique flavor to TeraSky that I know the founders are working hard to preserve. It’s the first-encounter relationship with the customers. A very deep knowledge and expertise and competencies with our vendors of choice. We will not be tagged as box movers and paper pushers. If we don’t have our value add into the process, I’d rather walk away,’ says TeraSky CRO Eli Shacked.

Global solution provider TeraSky’s revenue operation is poised to take off under VMware sales veteran Eli Shacked, who told CRN the company has the talent and a game plan to help its customers win regardless of their choice of infrastructure.

“We have developed services, a framework of services, that help customers not only expedite a deployment of those solutions, but also maintain a high level of SLA (service-level agreement) with those services and solutions that immediately leads into growth,” Shacked said in one of his first interviews since leaving VMware after a dozen years. “It’s one thing to have a state-of-the-art solution, it’s almost equally important to have the right deployment, resources, and frameworks in place to make sure that this Rolls Royce runs on the pavement and not the sidewalk.”

Shacked (pictured) joined VMware in 2012 and spent years there climbing the corporate ranks eventually landing in New York as vice president overseeing the company’s northeast sales. He watched the company grow from two products into the sprawling virtualization giant it is today with 300,000 customers around the globe and a new owner in Broadcom, which is making waves among VMware channel partners.

[RELATED: VMware’s ‘Global Sales Leader Of The Year’ Joins TeraSky As CRO]

“Some would say what happened with Broadcom to partners like TeraSky is a wrecking ball,” Shacked told CRN. “I think it’s one of the best things that can happen to us. I hate being dependent on one source of income that is too dominant in my book of business.”

TeraSky is one of VMware by Broadcom’s 100 global Pinnacle-level partners, however it is a hypervisor agnostic shop and in response to customer demand is looking at options outside of the VMware ecosystem to meet the market’s digital transformation demands.

“It forces us over the past few months to revisit our business portfolio, our vendors of choice, the way we go to market, look at our business, look at our customers, and … see how we can expedite some of the preliminary steps we have, that we have self-developed, with other vendors and could be complementary to some of our existing VMware customers,” he said.

At TeraSky, a Tel Aviv, Israel-based solutions integrator that provides both enterprise-grade infrastructure along with cloud-native agility and velocity, he is assembling a sales organization which he said will reflect the lessons learned from decades spend developing teams including his time at VMware.

“In my view the first line managers in a sales organization are the key factors for your success or failure. You will never be in the trenches as much as your first line managers. If you don’t trust them, you will build your war plan based on the wrong data,” he told CRN.

“If you have the right intel, you can be successful. If you don’t, and if you don’t trust those who deliver the intel to you, you are in deep trouble.”

Shacked was named TeraSky’s CRO in March, more than a year after TeraSky received a “significant” investment from Boston-based Abry Partners to deepen TeraSky’s Israel presence and accelerate the company’s global market expansion in the U.S. and Europe.

His strategy, and years success as VMware’s managing director in Israel won him a job as VP of Sales, North East Coast for VMware, where reshaped the sales organization to focus on building a “well-oiled machine” using talented frontline managers and sales reps who could execute without overbearing guidance. At VMWare, Shacked revitalized his team, exceeding sales targets and propelling it to become the top-performing region within VMware’s Americas Strategic Business. In 2023, he was recognized as VMware’s “global sales leader of the year.”

“You want a tight shop, but not too tight, because you will never be as good as your sales reps. You want a tight shop, but not too tight because you will never be as good as your first-line managers,” he said. “Once you have the right machine, well oiled, that’s when you can take a step back look at that and decide, ‘Where can I invest my time to do some business developments and improvements?’”

Shacked plans to grow TeraSky from its four global offices into a premium boutique solution provider who can stick close to the customer while providing the highest level of VMware competencies, or help the customer move to a new environment.

Here’s more of CRN’s conversation with Shacked.

What do you think infrastructure environments will look like once the dust settles from the Broadcom deal?

I don’t think any of the strategic customers are in a position to let go or get off of VMware overnight. This won’t happen. It’s a journey. It will take years. I think eventually it will be like multiple workload sources running in each and every one of those strategic customers. I think it’s good for field work and it’s good for other vendors as well. Competition is good.

There are billions every year in corporate and commercial customers that are still partner led and now more than ever before. I believe the resources we have in house that are relevant to the deployment of what VMware calls their VCF, their VMware Cloud Foundation.

We have the know-how to minimize churn, to help expedite the deployment of VCF, and make sure that the SLA is in the right spot so that growth will be the byproduct of that deployment.

Some workloads will land in other hypervisors of the world that we can help with. Customers now will be forced to look at their VMware estate and realize what they want to do with it.

Do you see a mass migration to the cloud as one byproduct of the deal?

It’s case by case. Those more legacy architecture environments, your two tier, three tier, heavy on data bases, it will cost them so much to migrate to cloud that they need to find off-brand solutions.

Maybe colocation, some sort of an in between solution. I believe the acronyms that will be used most in the next two three years in the IT market will be TCO. Sometimes you will see a mixture of vendors, sometimes you will see “all in’ but it will be T-C-O (driving).”

Where are areas that TeraSky is looking at placing big bets?

The big bets we have are what we developed in house. The happy customers are those who are really decoupled and not locked into any vendor. Now this is daydreaming, but if we can help with some of the decoupling in some of the areas that customers are working with.

First we need to see a first-round assessment. Once we see what your estate looks like, then we can come in with the knowledge and expertise and references and the frameworks that we have developed to show you how to increase efficiency. Let's show you how you can increase efficiency. We have pre-designed playbooks. We don’t reinvent wheels for customers. Let’s look at what your estate looks like. Let's increase efficiency. That will immediately translate into reducing your costs.

The third is the decoupling. Kubernetes is the last Mohicans, which are still not dominantly owned by one of the big vendors. For customers who can expedite their Kubernetes journey, we can help rebuild and reshape, deploy and adopt Kubernetes into their production environment.

Why is now a good time to be a solution provider? You see people posting online saying they want to get out, whether it’s labor problems or vendor issues. Why do you like this space?

Those who say they want to get out of the business, I’m not running away from the problems. I run into the fire. That’s the best way to learn and grow.

Even if you fail. You gave it your best shot. The rush you get from signing a contract with a customer, which means they put their trust with us, is second to none. They trust you, not just with their money but with their job security and their positioning within the organization. This is why I know the responsibility you need to carry on your shoulders every day. That’s why I love this space.

Why a solution provider instead of a vendor? I think it’s this cycle. Vendors like VMware are facing challenges. They need solutions integrators like us to close the gap for them.

The 12-month subscription cycles, the deployment, the customer satisfaction as a vendor you will never have enough people on the bench to run this SLA for your customers.

What Hock is doing is the perfect example. He understands he cannot cover the 300,000 customers of VMware. So he is focusing on the 2,000 elite. All the rest, he understands you need partners. So he is asking his partners to focus on “this” market, while he focuses on “this” market.

As good as the vendors’ products are, the last mile will be even more dependent on the solutions integrator like us.

Where would you like to take TeraSky here in the next few frames?

I believe TeraSky in three years’ time will be in a completely different ballgame. I think I want to be the largest boutique solutions integrator in the world. The boutique will keep us close to our customers at a level that it will not become corporate.

There’s a very unique flavor to TeraSky that I know the founders are working hard to preserve. It’s the first encounter relationship with the customers. A very deep knowledge and expertise and competencies with our vendors of choice. We will not be tagged as box movers and paper pushers. If we don’t have our value add into the process, I’d rather walk away.