What VMware Partners Want From VMware Partner Exchange

VMware partners are looking for the vendor to use this week's VMware Partner Exchange to answer a lot of questions about its cloud strategy, channel program and increasing focus on related technology such as storage, data protection and networking.

The VMware Partner Exchange, held this week in Las Vegas, is an annual event bringing together VMware's solution providers and strategic partners to discuss the vendor's channel and technology strategies.

The event also offers channel partners an opportunity to bring their questions and concerns to VMware in a public forum and in private meetings.

[Related: VMware Intros VMware Horizon: Refreshed, Renamed, Repackaged ]

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VMware's ability to maintain a leading hypervisor feature set while continuing to innovate around software automation to help it become a true "cloud" OS is on the radar of Kris Queen, director of technology at Alliance Technology Group, a Hanover, Md.-based solution provider and VMware partner.

"As a technical guy, I would expect VMware to have some more comprehensive hands-on labs," Queen said. "On the sales side, I would like to hear more about how they will continue to stay ahead of their competitors as the basic hypervisor becomes a commodity."

VMware's road map is a top concern for many solution providers.

Kevin R. Vogl, vice president of virtualization and cloud services for Champion Solutions Group, a Boca Rotan, Fla.-based solution provider and VMware partner, said he will be looking for VMware's road map with a special focus on third-party applications to enhance customers' existing VMware environments; purpose-built hardware for specific virtual environments such as virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI), high-end databases and disaster recovery; and the use of open standards to be able to include multiple hypervisors in a private cloud.

Mark Teter, CTO at Advanced Systems Group, a Denver-based solution provider and VMware partner, said he is hoping to hear from VMware what's new in networking and security, virtualizing latency sensitive apps, storage strategies for vSphere and vCloud, and other storage, data protection and related road maps.

Storage is also on the mind of Bernard Westwood, CFO at Syscom Technologies, an Atlanta-based solution provider and VMware partner.

"[I] am interested in getting some additional information on their new offerings around storage and storage management," Westwood said. "We are interested in seeing how far they are trying to push into that part of the data center infrastructure."

NEXT: Calling VMware Out On Past Promises

Keith Norbie, vice president at Nexus, the Minnetonka, Minn., office of Atlanta-based solution provider Stratos Management Systems, said he will be looking for the execution engine on the software-defined data center (SDDC) and all the ecosystem progressions around the advancement of this movement.

However, Norbie said, he will also be calling out VMware on past promises. "I'm looking for short-term perspective on what's executable from the 'tech previews' of previous VMworld and events," he said.

Other solution providers said they hope to get information from VMware on specific technologies including the new VMware Horizon Mirage technology, which blends elements of client and server virtualization in VDI implementations, giving IT departments full control over endpoints while allowing users to customize their machines as they see fit.

Other topics of interest to solution providers include VMware's overall end-user computing strategy, target markets for VMware's vCloud Director, overall vCloud Suite strategy and details of when to use vCloud Automation Center vs. vCloud Director.

VMware's plans for engaging its channel partners will be a major concern at the VMware Partner Exchange.

Norbie said he will be keeping an eye out on how VMware's plans will impact his organization.

"I'm looking for the future," he said. "What services and offerings does Stratos need to make? What's relevant? Who are the right people to network with to pull off this year's super-human feats?"

New and emerging opportunities for partners in VMware's 2012 and 2014 programs is a key concern of Kent MacDonald, vice president of converged infrastructure and network services at Long View Systems, a Calgary, Alberta-based provider of VMware technology to U.S. and Canadian customers.

"What are VMware's priorities and focus for the coming year?" MacDonald said. "Where should partners be investing to mutually elevate our value to the market? Software-defined networking, cloud and virtual desk are most hot right now."

Solution providers also said they will be looking for more support in the areas of technical training, marketing and sales enablement.

Daniel Duffy, CEO and CIO of Valley Network Solutions, a Fresno, Calif.-based solution provider and VMware partner, said he hopes to see more continuity in support from VMware's channel account managers.

Duffy said that his company has had to endure no less than eight channel account manager changes since it started working with VMware in 2008, or an average of 1.6 changes a year.

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That lack of continuity has lead to a number of issues for Valley Network Solutions, including getting the kind of market development fund support it needs, Valley Network Solutions' Duffy said.

"They want to give us funds for campaigns that have been proven to not work -- we know because we did try it their way -- while they claim that they cannot fund a proven campaign that we have used for over eight years, successfully, with proven, factual ROI of 50:1 results," he said. "They waste funds on useless fluff and make excuses why they can't do something that works."

Duffy said he would like VMware to make it possible to use market development funds to pay for certification, and he would also like to see a VMware sales rep visit his office at least once a year.

"We grew our VMware sales by 5,094 percent last year -- yes, 5,000 -- and they treat us like a doormat in my opinion," he said. "How VMW expects partners to grow with these kinds of constraints demonstrates a complete lack of awareness of the reality their partners exist in. I believe that they've taken their success, and many of their partners, for granted. If they had to work as hard as we do for business, I know things would be different."

Another partner, Bert Shure, an account executive at Advanced Systems Group, said his local VMware rep treats him the exact opposite of what Duffy at Valley Network Solutions is facing.

"I have to say that my VMware business is ramping up, mostly because the SMB telesales rep assigned to San Diego is a rock star," Shure said. "I bring deals to him, and he brings them to me. He is smart, professional and understands the channel."