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VMware Revamping Partner Program, Letting Partners Engage Based On Their Business Model

VMware Global Channel Chief Jenni Flinders says her team is working with partners to construct the new program -- slated to roll out in April -- as they are the ones in the sales trenches who have the tight relationships with customers.

Massive changes are in store for VMware's partner community as the virtualization leader is reconstructing its entire Partner Program to change the way partners and VMware interact with each other.

"We're going to reconstruct the entire Partner Program. It's going to get a total overhaul," said VMware Global Channel Chief Jenni Flinders in an interview with CRN at VMworld 2018. "We're going to let the partners engage with us based on their business model."

Flinders said instead of VMware engaging with partners based on nomenclature, such as a reseller label, the company will work with partners based on their priorities and VMware competencies.

"It's going to pivot towards our strategic priorities. So think of the way we launched our Master Services Competencies as being a little taste of what it's going to look like," she said. "So really putting together a number of competencies to create the best in class in that area."

[Related: 6 Key VMware Cloud On AWS Features Launched At VMworld 2018]

The goal is to roll out the new Partner Program in time for VMware's Partner Leadership Summit in April, according to Flinders.

The change comes amid a major channel transition to recurring revenue services and providing hybrid solutions.

Scott Miller, senior director of strategic partnerships for solution provider powerhouse World Wide Technology, a Maryland Heights, Mo.-based VMware partner, said the Partner Program overhaul is necessary as customer are looking to the channel to provide business outcomes, not products.

"The problem with VMware is having certified partners around products, which is not that helpful. It's like, 'OK, this partner knows NSX’ ... when the customers are really looking for business outcomes," said Miller.

"Businesses are really looking for competencies to indicate, 'Who are the partners I should use to help me with banking? Who are the partners I should use to help me with retail? Health care?'" said Miller.

A major focus in the new partner program will be to drive and incent partner opportunities around cloud sales and services. "The momentum with AWS is picking up a lot, but now we get to drive the conversations around consumption and customer usage."

Flinders confirmed that there will be specific incentives to drive sales around VMware Cloud on AWS as well as synergies with Dell EMC.

Flinders said her team is working with partners to construct the new program, as they are the ones out in the sales trenches every day who have the tight relationships with customers, she said. "So we will adjust, but with input from the partners on where we drive incentives, which product categories, which solution areas, etc."

Flinders, who spent 15 years in top channel executive positions at Microsoft, became VMware's global channel leader in April after leading a consultancy practice that advised clients on channel strategy. She said the program overhaul is needed to fit the demand of the broad market today and how customers are buying.

"If you look at how VMWare has grown over the last 20 years, success was predicated on vSphere and was very transactional. If you look at where our technologies are advancing -- cloud, services, driving consumption and deployment – it's a very different motion that's moving beyond the transaction," said Flinders. "So it gives us a great opportunity to rethink our strategy and our approach with our partners in the ecosystem."

Flinders said partners should begin preparing for the program's overhaul by reviewing their skill sets around cloud, services and driving consumption as well as where they can "lean in" more with VMware.

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