New VMware Channel Chief Sweeney On Taking 'Friction' Out Of Dell EMC Deals, Rules Of Engagement And Disty Relationships
The Easy Choice
Only recently installed as VMware channel chief, Brandon Sweeney is already making his mark, working with Dell EMC channel chief John Byrne to overcome a longstanding channel conflict in the relationship between the two vendors.
The result is a new VMware enterprise licensing agreement [ELA] strategy that allows Dell EMC Titanium and Titanium Black partners to procure VMware on Dell EMC paper while earning incentives from both companies' programs. In the past, solution providers weren't eligible for VMware incentives – and VMware reps didn't get paid – when VMware was pulled into Dell EMC hardware deals. Now partners will bank Dell EMC incentives, as well as VMware incentives while closing deals on a single purchase order and all the reps get paid.
"This deal is all about making it easier for partners to have choice on where they want to procure VMware technologies," Sweeney told CRN recently. "We have a lot of overlap in the Titanium and Titanium Black partners with VMware. This is going to be a good thing for our mutual partners. It's going to take friction out of the model for all of the Dell Technologies reps to get paid and importantly for VMware partners to get their VMware benefits on these deals with Dell Technologies."
What follows is an edited excerpt of Sweeney's conversation with CRN.
What do partners say they want from the Dell EMC/VMware relationship?
What partners have wanted is a stronger working relationship between Dell and VMware on some of these friction issues. That was the key message at [VMware's] Partner Leadership Summit [last May]. We're trying to respond to that call to our leadership teams to make it easier to sell together.
Where do you want to see partners putting their sales emphasis?
This deal is all about making it easier for partners to have choice on where they want to procure VMware technologies. We have a lot of overlap in the Titanium and Titanium Black partners with VMware. This is going to be a good thing for our mutual partners. It's going to take friction out of the model for all of the Dell Technologies reps to get paid and importantly for VMware partners to get their VMware benefits on these deals with Dell Technologies. That friction is what we're trying to remove to make it easier. Customers are saying they want to take advantage of the full Dell portfolio, so I want VMware to be part of that.
Does this go hand-in-hand with the "channel neutrality" concept VMware started talking about last spring?
We're trying to remove friction to scale the business. We're responding to customers and to partners saying make it easier to procure VMware through Dell Technologies. We're trying to make it easier on some of the channel neutrality that we're trying to reinforce across the ecosystem. This is a really good thing for partners, and it's a really good thing for customers. John and I are trying to be responsive to partners because there's a ton of upside if we can make it easier to sell together.
What are the rules of engagement?
[When a ] partner comes in, registers a deal, and during that process, must choose a preferred distributor and [the partner] will have the option to select Dell Technologies just like any other disty. It follows our standard process. No change. We're just simply adding an option for partners, which is what they're demanding, and rightfully so.
Where does this leave distribution?
We still view distribution and all of our disties as key leverage to continue to grow our overall VMware business, and now Dell will become one of those disties, which is fantastic. We will find a way to continue to make our programs, while separate, aligned to drive better rewards for partners that drive incremental solutions: VxRail, VxRack and all of our solutions.
Will this light a fire under partners to sell VSAN, NSX or other emerging technologies?
I think there's good engagement going on right now and I think this is going to take the friction out of that existing engagement. When you make something easier, you'll see more of it. We have more customer conversations, and we're seeing tremendous momentum around all our technologies, particularly our advanced solutions. People are naturally talking about NSX, vRealize management, Airwatch. This makes it easier for partner to have a discussion and leverage the relationships the Dell Technologies reps have and the VMware reps have in these larger accounts. There is a lot of white space, and I think this will support faster growth in new accounts.