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Bye-bye, VMware PEX conference

This year's VMware Partner Exchange conference will be the last, VMware has announced. Partners have mixed reactions about the vendor's plans for going forward.

This year's VMware Partner Exchange conference will be the last. Going forward, VMware will morph PEX into VMWorld and add the Partner Business Summit 2016 for the business audience within its partner base.

These changes reflect how technology and customers are changing and how VMware is evolving its relationship with partners, said Toni Adams, vice president of global partner marketing and alliances at VMware.

"VMWorld will be one destination for our technology and architect audiences, and the Partner Business Summit will be more intimate, with more one-on-one and one-on-few engagements with partners," he said.

Adams said VMware partners like attending VMWorld with their customers and interacting with VMware as a partner. "Last year, we started down the road of having a separate partner day at VMWorld, which was really two days," said Adams.

The vendor intends to offer partners a robust program when VMware PEX is rolled into VMWorld, capturing all the elements that it offers partners at PEX.

Adams said that VMware is going to have a broader partner ecosystem approach. While maintaining its current set of partners, VMware will also embrace the independent software vendor, system integrator and service provider communities.

I think there's value in having one event that's about the business and another that's about technology.
Paul Edwardsdirector of infrastructure channels and ecosystems, IDC

And, he said, VMware wants to make these events more valuable to partners via better and expanded engagement with partners on a personal level, as opposed to presenting PowerPoint slides in a room with hundreds of other partners.

"We want our partners to feel that when they come to a VMware event that they get the most out of it from an enablement perspective, that they know where they fit into our roadmap and strategy, and that they've made a lot of personal connections -- connections that will help them accelerate the sales cycle with their customers," he said.

Shane Corbett, director of data center engineering at En Pointe Technologies, a solution provider based in Gardena, Calif., is quite satisfied with VMware PEX and VMWorld just the way they are, as were other partners he discussed the impending change with at a dinner last night. Corbett attended VMware PEX with six co-workers who were assigned to cover three technical tracks.

VMware PEX is one of his favorite vendor partner events. "The company does a good job of packing us in front of people that can actually help our business. They're focused on actionable things," he said. That's not always the case at other partner conferences he attends.

VMWorld, on the other hand, is the place where he focuses exclusively on the customers that En Pointe invites to the event. "We spend all of our time being with customers and trying to book as many meeting with customers as we can," Corbett said.

The idea of melding VMware PEX into VMWorld sounds like an opportunity for colossal burnout to the engineer.

At the same time, he admits that given the number of scheduled meetings he attends at VMware PEX, it's often difficult to shoe-horn in meetings with niche technology vendors whose products could be a differentiating factor for En Pointe.

Industry analyst Paul Edwards, director of infrastructure channels and ecosystems for IDC, is bullish on VMware's direction as it relates to changes in its events strategy.

"It makes sense to me, and I think there's value in having one event that's about the business and another that's about technology," he said. In particular, he pointed to the importance of one-on-one business meetings with executives from the partner's organization and the vendor's organization.

He also noted that it makes sense to have an event that's inclusive across the partner ecosystem. "Partners can really start having conversations about how the ecosystem can work together and connect in a business way around their own expertise and go-to-market strategy," he said.

Next Steps

VMware unveils a bevy of new partner offerings at PEX 2015

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What are you going to miss about attending VMware PEX conferences?
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As a business professional, I got a lot of inspiration and motivation from attending the VMware PEX conferences. I and several other of my business partners attended every chance we got. There was a lot of people to meet, many things to learn, new ideas to try, inventions and applications to learn about, and so many great business tips to bring back to the office. That's what I will miss the most about the conferences.
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Combining PEX into VMWorld makes sense. It lets us focus on both tech and business, creating more networking and learning opportunities at the same time.
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