VMware evolves channel partner program at PEX 2014

VMware kicked off its Partner Exchange (PEX) 2014 conference with several updates to its partner program, including a new Elite Partner Initiative.

SAN FRANCISCO -- VMware Inc. kicked off its Partner Exchange (PEX) 2014 conference here today at Moscone Center, announcing several updates to its partner program that the company said align with recently appointed channel chief Dave O'Callaghan's message of greater consistency, predictability and profitability for its worldwide partner community.

The evolution of VMware Partner Network for solution providers and service providers includes a new Enrolled tier -- replacing the existing Registered tier -- and a new Elite Partner Initiative. The company is also upping the ante for solution competencies and introducing new ones, as well as simplifying the reward structure for opportunity registration. VMware also officially launched VMware Partner University Mobile for "anytime" training on any mobile device.

"We've made a lot of small changes that will have a big impact for our partners and contribute to the ease of doing business with VMware," said Toni Adams, vice president of global partner marketing at VMware. With more than 4,000 attendees expected at this week's event, program enhancements are set to impact VMware's 75,000 partners worldwide, who account for more than 85% of the company's revenue. There are approximately 15,000 U.S. and Canadian VMware partners.

The introduction of the Enrolled tier targets new partners coming into the VMware Partner Network. It's designed to get partners enabled, productive and profitable as soon as possible.

Adams pointed out that the new tier level is not just a change in name. "It's also a change in behavior. We want to have a consistent engagement and guidance path for the partner to help them unlock opportunity and to become productive," he said.

That doesn't mean that VMware is taking a broad-brush approach to recruit new partners. However, the vendor is looking at having a sufficient number of productive partners to reach its revenue goals.

Partners have to look no further than at VMware's Elite Partner Initiative to see where the company is setting its sights. At VMworld 2013 last summer, the company made clear that it's gone from being a one-product company to having a broad platform portfolio with some mature products and others, such as VMware NSX, VMware Virtual SAN and hybrid cloud, for example, in an early stage.

The Elite Partner Initiative will ultimately include a select and qualified group of partners who will participate in new markets and new opportunities. These elite partners will be brought into product development cycles early on and be exposed to the messaging, value proposition, enablement and sales cycle early on.

"We'll be very much involved in the sale of these products with our partners in order to understand the specific needs of our partners before we roll them out more broadly when we're at scale," Adams said.

In fact, VMware's direct sales team and elite partners will be trained in parallel in this new early-access initiative.

Partners will be able to apply for the Elite Partner Initiative, but the number selected will be limited, according to Adams.

As VMware evolves its portfolio toward a software-defined enterprise, partner competencies must also evolve. Beginning in May 2014, VMware is increasing the competency requirements. The change will require partners to have two VMware Sales Professional (VSP) and two pre-sales VMware Technical Sales Professional (VTSP) accreditations for all solution competencies.

Also in the May timeframe, partners will be offered two new competencies: Cloud Provider Solution Competency and vCloud Hybrid Service Solution Competency.

The solution competencies are being transformed as followed:

  • The Infrastructure Virtualization Competency will become the Server Virtualization Competency.
  • The Management Competency will become Management Operations and will focus on vCenter Operations Management Suite.
  • The Cloud IaaS Competency will become the Management Automation Competency and will focus on vCloud Automation Center.

"We've increased the requirements to get these competencies to help partners differentiate their expertise and also so customers can trust that their partners truly understand the solution that's represented in that competency," said Colleen Kapase, senior director of partner readiness at VMware.

Partners who hold the competencies that are being transformed have until Nov. 1 to meet the increased requirements. Most of the course material is online and free, according to Kapase. "It may be free but we understand that we're asking partners for more of their time and people," she said, adding that VMware is pushing its partners to develop more of a practice around a solution set.

The materials are also now available on the VMware Partner University Mobile app, which is free.

VMware will also be relaunching its partner Solution Enablement Toolkits to help build services.

Finally, VMware has simplified its rewards, intended to make it easier for partners to understand how they get paid for opportunity registration. Moving forward, partners will get an increased percentage for rewards based on their tier level up through the Premier partner level.

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