VMware’s Revamped ‘Partner-First Culture’: 5 New Teams To Know

From hiring new channel executives to building a new Partner Lifecycle Services organization, here are five ways VMware is doubling down on a partner-first culture.

“Doubling Down” On Partner-First

VMware is “doubling down” on creating a partner-first culture, says its new worldwide channel leader Sandy Hogan -- from hiring new channel executives to building a global partner advisory council and a new Partner Lifecycle Services organization.

“One area that we are incredibly doubling down on is creating a partner-first culture,” said Hogan, senior vice president of VMware’s worldwide commercial and partner sales, in an interview with CRN.

Hogan hit the ground running when she joined VMware in May by investing heavily in the channel after speaking with channel partners from across the globe.

CRN breaks down five big new channel investments that show VMware is doubling down on creating a partner-first culture inside the $11 billion Palo Alto, Calif.-based virtualization and hybrid cloud software superstar.

New Partner Lifecycle Services Team

VMware recently built a team centered on partner lifecycle services that is being led by Richard Steeves (pictured), senior director of Lifecycle Services for VMware’s worldwide partner and commercial organization. One of Hogan’s core strategic channel initiatives is around enabling the “value continuum” aspect for VMware customers.

“Our whole mission that we’ve created is around scaling customers for life value through a connected ecosystem. We put Richard [Steeves] to lead our partner services role, and that’s everything around defining rules of engagement across the whole life cycle. The ecosystem right now is no longer linear. It’s no longer one partner for one transaction,” said Hogan. “So it’ about building out those lifecycle capabilities, how we incentivize differently, and how we create the opportunity for partners to play any role across that continuum. So we’re aligning investments around that. We didn’t have a team that was focused on that before. Now we have a full team that we reallocated and redesigned that is 100 percent dedicated to creating that capability.”

Steeves has helped lead VMware’s partner program strategy for the past two years. Prior to VMware, he was at Dell EMC for five year, with his last position being senior director of Global Services Partners, according to his LinkedIn.

Hiring Tracy-Ann Palmer

In a boost to its partner-first motto, VMware hired Tracy-Ann Palmer last month as its new vice president of partner programs and experience.

Palmer is a longtime IT veteran with decades of executive experience working for the likes of Cisco, Salesforce and most recently at Amazon Web Services as Global Service Enablement Leader, according to her LinkedIn profile.

“We’ve had different teams focusing on different aspects of programs, initiatives, incentives – and we’ve put that all under one leader to focus on partner experience and programs. That’s Tracy-Ann Palmer,” said Hogan. “Following the theme of simplicity, we now have that all under one thread to really drive and mandate that culture and the programmatic aspects of that simplicity.”

New Technology Solutions Teams

Another imperative in VMware’s partner-first motto is creating new use case-based solutions to make the channel even more relevant in the market. For example, when the COVID-19 pandemic hit North America, VMware launched a new SD-WAN Work @Home offering to help customers quickly enable a remote digital workforce. The Work @Home bundled VMware SD-WAN, Carbon Black security offering and VMware’s Workspace ONE platform.

“This is everything around use case-based solutions. … Getting much more into those business-oriented use cases and how deliver those to partners,” said Hogan. “[It’s about] how do we make our technology so consumable that it enables partners to build their unique IP and their scalable IP on top of that. So we have also redesigned our organization where we have created a technology solutions team and that is net new for us. We’re just building that. They are 100 percent focused on building the right kind of use cases with our partners and enable them to be even more relevant and scale in the marketplace.”

Global Partner Advisory Council

VMware is currently building a global partner advisory council that will allow channel partners to have more involvement with product development in a move to better understand VMware’s global customer demands.

“One area that we are incredibly doubling down on is creating a partner-first culture -- all the way from involvement in product development, because now we’re looking at cross-architecture, cross-platform solutions and driving and embedding that simplicity. We’re building everything from a global partner advisory council to executive sponsor programs. I want partners to be part of the build with us versus just the recipients of new programs, launches, etc.” said Hogan. “That’s super important.”

Multi-Cloud Push For Partners

Although not a new team, VMware has been rapidly developing strategic alliances with the largest public cloud providers over the past few years to better enable channel partners to help customers in their multi-cloud journey, according to Hogan. She said forming technology integrations with the likes of AWS and Microsoft Azure “provides massive opportunity to our partners to be a trusted advisor to the customers.”

“That gives the freedom of choice that enables our partners to work with the customers to help them migrate and support whatever direction the customer wants to take. So that allows partners the flexibility to really move and support this multi-cloud environment that is critical in this new world,” said Hogan.

“I believe Gartner said by 2022, over 67 percent of the businesses are going to be implementing some type of multi-cloud or hybrid cloud strategy,” she said. “When you think of that, it’s a huge opportunity for our partners.”