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VMware channel partners eye new incentives

Some partners see a competitive advantage in VMware’s new focus on specific topics, but smaller partners may not have the resources to diversify.

LAS VEGAS – VMware is pushing its partners toward new solution competencies in specific areas of practice, which leads some to see a competitive advantage over other partners. But smaller partners with limited resources will be forced to pick their battles.

At VMware Partner Exchange here this week, VMware Inc. disclosed three new solution competencies in specific topic areas. They are virtualization of business critical applications (VBCA), Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), and management, which will focus on the vCenter Operations product and be available later in the first quarter. Existing solution competencies include infrastructure virtualization, business continuity and desktop virtualization.

VMware has also doubled its Solution Rewards back-end rebates to 20% if partners earn these competencies, according to Scott Aronson, VMware’s senior vice president, global channels and alliances.  

VMware will maintain its Pro, Enterprise and Premier size-based tiering for partners, but will focus on particular topics, said Doug Smith, VMware’s vice president of global partner strategy and operations.

“The tiers just tell us how big the partner is,” Smith said. “Now we’re more oriented toward, for example, ‘are you a desktop partner?’”

To that end, VMware has also encouraged Enterprise partners to earn two solution competencies instead of one and for Premier partners to double the number of employees with solution competencies, Smith said.

Some partners said they believe solution competencies make them more competitive.

“The more differentiation the better,” said Brandon Worrell, director of business development at Solutions II, based in Salt Lake City. “Solutions II spends a lot of resources on our skills and technology enablement -- narrowing down the list of partners that have the same skills is beneficial for us.”

End users also benefit from solution competencies, added Colin Thom, strategic infrastructure solutions architect for Austin, Tex.-based Aztec Systems Inc. He is currently earning a desktop solution competency and plans to go after the new one in virtualizing business critical applications, a hot topic among his customers right now.

"Our customer base is focused on ERP, accounting and financial software, which requires SQL and Exchange," he said. "A competent VMware stance will help us know how to optimize these apps for virtual environments."

Smaller partners, however, may have a tougher time branching out in solution competencies. “We have three techs that are sort of catch-alls,” said Cole O’Shaughnessy, senior account executive with Atlanta, Ga.-based Shadow-Soft. “Solution competencies don’t have a lot of value to us, just because of the size of partner we are. Being laser focused is kind of a difficult thing to do.”

Solution competencies “will have the overall effect of partitioning out the partner space,” said Tim Antonowicz, systems architect at Salem, N.H.-based Mosaic Technology Corp. “You will see some smaller partners picking one or two verticals and focusing their energy and resources there.”

“For the end users, they can pick and choose a VAR that focuses on their sector, knowing that they are trained to deal with that vertical,” Antonowicz added.

Beth Pariseau is a senior news writer for and Write to her at

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