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VMware Partners Hopeful On VMC On AWS Future With Hogan, Sullivan At Helm

Partners believe VMware’s Sandy Hogan and AWS’ Chris Sullivan can solve the channel conflicts surrounding large VMware Cloud on AWS deals being taken direct.

VMware partners are hopeful that the tech firm’s new global channel chief Sandy Hogan will deliver on the company’s promise to fix channel conflicts regarding large VMware Cloud on AWS deals. Additionally, partners are bullish that AWS’ newly hired global director of worldwide strategic alliances, Chris Sullivan, can improve AWS’ channel strategy with VMware.

“Sandy is doing a great job of grabbing the bull by its horns in some of these programmatic issues,” said one top executive from a solution provider who declined to be identified. “Chris Sullivan and Sandy are two people that have the experience in the industry in managing complicated programs. Nothing was more complicated than VCE -- trying to get EMC, Cisco and VMware working on the same page back in the day was rough. Chris has got the chops to go do it. It’s going to take some time, but in the meantime, it’s navigating it on a case by case basis.”

Several top VMware partners told CRN recently that massive multimillion-dollar VMware Cloud on AWS deals are being swooped up at the last minute by AWS’ direct sales teams, resulting in the loss of millions of dollars in enterprise cloud migration deals for the channel. VMware has acknowledged these partner challenges around large VMware Cloud on AWS deals, known as VMC.

[Related: VMware Channel Chief On Fixing VMC On AWS Chanel Conflict]

The executive said AWS’ massive field sales teams are inexperience when it comes to the channel and unaware of the value of channel programs. “There’s so many of them and they’re so new. It’s adding a level of complexity of pulling this off that I don’t think AWS’ executive team is internally trying to disregard the programmatic issues in place, it’s just the scale, the reach and the numbers of sales reps that AWS has -- it’s just kind of hard for them to reel in,” he said. “So Chris is going to have a harder battle to fix than Sandy does.”

In a recent interview with CRN, Hogan said VMware is working to solve this issue by establishing an improved deal registration protection process, driving better field alignment and co-selling, as well as boosting collaboration initiatives within VMware’s internal channel teams.

“One thing we’re doing is we have established the importance of the dual registration that is fundamentally protecting the partners from both organizations as they engage,” said Hogan, who became senior vice president of VMware’s Worldwide Commercial and Partner Sales in May. “And it also, candidly, leverages both programs because now when they are dual registering, it gives them visibility to actually have more flexibility in making decisions based on the customer’s landscape, the contractual landscape and they can best determine the best path for the customer.”

Hogan said she is personally invested in the issue with Sullivan, who joined AWS in June.

“We’re doing joint meetings with our top partners to align in getting direct feedback: what’s working, what’s not working – but also areas where we could innovate together to drive the joint selling opportunities. That’s a personal investment that we’re making,” she said.

Sullivan has decades of top-level IT experience working for the likes of VCE, Hortonworks and Cisco. Both Sullivan and Hogan held executive positions at Cisco during the 2000s, before Sullivan left to join VCE – a joint venture company consisting of VMware, Cisco and EMC -- in 2010.

One vice president of a solution provider who is a top VMware partner familiar with both Hogan and Sullivan said the two will likely find a solution, although he hopes its sooner rather than later. He said as recent as late summer, AWS direct sales team entered into a VMware Cloud on AWS deal in the eleventh hour and won a seven-figure contract. The deal was discovered and pursued by the solution provider and even registered with VMware.

“We were good with the deal, the customer seemed happy with the deal, but AWS came in again offering EDP (Enterprise Discount Program) credits and that was that,” said the executive who declined to be identified. “This needs to be solved one way or another. … [That particular deal] happened only a few weeks or a month after Sandy joined – we’ve been in talks since then. But there’s still some big VMC issues that need to fixed sooner rather than later.”

“Sandy is a proven channel advocate. She’s listened to our issues and is trying to help. Chris on the AWS side is also proven,” said the executive. “So this is now in good hands as far as I’m concerned. We just need more, like I said before, sooner rather than later.”

Hogan said VMware is working on efforts to improve joint AWS, VMware and partner “tri-teaming agreements.”

“A lot of that is really now gaining momentum and I think more disciplined in the engagement model than what really existed a few months ago,” Hogan said. “When there is field alignment early at the field level when it comes to some of these customer engagements, it’s about creating better alignment in these teaming agreements that are established between VMware, AWS and the partner. That sets up the co-selling up-front and the rules of engagement and the outcomes out of that. So that also creates a form of protection for the partners in how they’re actually going to jointly sell [VMware Cloud on AWS] and the rules and responsibilities going into that teaming agreement.”

VMware Cloud on AWS continues to grow in popularity as both company’s double down on the solution.

VMware Cloud on AWS, known as VMC, has recorded 250 percent year-over-year expansion in the total number of host deployment, and 350 percent in total virtual machines. There are more than 300 certified or validated third-party solutions available to VMC customers. Over 540 channel partners have achieved a VMC certification, including more than 40 with a Master Services Competency.

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