VMware Brings Its Shiny New Networking, Storage Tech To Channel

VMware, as part of its campaign to extend its virtualization tentacles beyond the server, is rolling out a channel program for emerging technologies like NSX network virtualization and VSAN storage.

VMware's Elite Initiative, unveiled Tuesday at its Partner Exchange conference in San Francisco, is currently in preview and includes 10 early adopter partners. While there have been some early adopter customers for NSX, including investment banks, enterprises and telecommunications firms, the technology is still very new to most VMware partners.

The Elite Initiative is VMware's first step toward making NSX and VSAN​ available to a broader portion of its partner base. "This is about getting to scale with our broad partner base," Toni Adams, vice president of global partner marketing at VMware, said in an interview prior to the conference.

NSX has very different criteria from other VMware products, so not all partners are going to be able to jump in on day one. VMware, in a press release, said Elite Initiative partners need to have "deep technical skills, an established solution practice, and highly advanced resources."

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What that means exactly still isn't entirely clear, but VMware clearly has a training and enablement regimen prepared for solution providers looking to expand their influence. "We have to bring in partners that qualify to best be able to unlock the opportunities at the customer," Adams said when asked what skills partners must have to take part in the Elite Initiative.

NSX works by programming virtual switches to act as a network hypervisor that organizations can use to run their virtual machines, VMware CTO Ben Fathi said Tuesday at the partner conference.

This means organizations can program networks to direct more bandwidth to apps at the times they need it, like at the end of a quarter, according to Fathi.

"NSX is going to revolutionize networking the same way as ESX revolutionized compute," he said at the conference.

Also part of the Elite Initiative is VSAN, the storage tech currently in beta that is slated for launch by the end of March. VSAN, short for Virtual SAN, turns storage on server hard drives and SSD drives into pools that can be assigned to apps.

Fathi described VSAN as "brain dead simple to use" and cheaper than traditional storage because organizations don't have to spend time managing storage hardware. "VSAN is here, and it's going to change the face of storage," he said.

NEXT: Partner Program Changes Help Partners Climb Tiers Faster

VMware is making a number of changes to its partner program. Beginning in May, partners will be able to meet their program tier requirements by getting trained in any of the solution competencies VMware offers. At the same time, partners will have to obtain two pre-sales and sales certifications, while in the past they only had to have one of each.

Starting in May, partners will be able to satisfy tier requirements by attaining any solution competency, reducing the partner’s upfront investment cost while better diversifying and differentiating their unique offerings and skill sets. With this change, VMware partners will now need to have two sales (VSP) and two pre-sales (VTSP) accreditations for all solution competencies. All training is free and available online.

Letting partners choose their own solutions competency will help them move up to higher program tiers more quickly, VMware's Adams said.

VMware also unveiled a number of naming changes for its competencies. Its Infrastructure Virtualization is now called the Server Virtualization Competency, while its Cloud IaaS Competency is now known as the Management Automation Competency and will focus on vCloud Automation Center.

VMware's old Management Competency will now be called Management Operations, and vCenter Operations Management Suite is the main focus here.