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VMware's Frank Rauch talks up services, AirWatch opportunities

VMware's vice president of the Americas partner organization, Frank Rauch, points to a bigger partner opportunity following the acquisitions of AirWatch and Desktone and the addition of DRaaS.

Just before VMware closed the doors on PEX 2015 in San Francisco last week, SearchITChannel caught up with Frank Rauch, vice president of the Americas partner organization at VMware, to discuss the company's priorities for 2015 and partner opportunities.

Rauch is responsible for the more than 24,000 partners that VMware has in North America.

In 2013 and 2014, VMware said that its three key strategies were end-user computing, software-defined data center (SDDC) and hybrid cloud. What are VMware's three key focus areas for 2015?

Frank Rauch: These are still the three main buckets, but [now] they're more granular. The good thing for the channel is that we haven't changed the priorities. Partners like consistency, they need to invest and they need to be confident that we have a sustainable strategy for the long run.

VMware is still extremely channel-friendly and the percentage of business that goes through the channel has not wavered over the past few years.
Frank Rauchvice president of Americas Partners Organization, VMware

In 2015 we see these three areas maturing and evolving. For example, when we spoke last, in February 2014, we spoke about end-user computing and at that time we didn't have CloudVolumes (now App Volumes), and we [had] not [acquired] AirWatch, which has given us a great mobility offering that the channel has embraced. When you look at the SDDC, certainly our software-defined networking strategy and our software-defined storage strategy, which we recently enhanced, have become much more prevalent in the channel and have matured as well. When we talk about vCloud Air, with the acquisition of Desktone and with the introduction of disaster recovery as a service [DRaas], and as we move to other off-premises types of offerings, that's maturing as well.

So when we talk about market opportunity, it's getting bigger based on maturation of our strategy. Last year at this time, we came out strong with three priorities and we told the channel we were going to focus on those priorities. We did focus and we won within each of those categories.

What are the key takeaways from PEX 2015 you hope partners leave with?

Rauch: The takeaways for partners is that there's tremendous opportunity within each of the … five businesses, as Pat [Gelsinger] referred to them on stage today, which is software-defined storage, software-defined networking, management and operations, end user computing, and vCloud Air. VMware is still extremely channel-friendly and the percentage of business that goes through the channel has not wavered over the past few years [85% of VMware's business goes through the channel], and obviously, there's a large services opportunity, which is one of the big [themes] of PEX this year.

The services opportunity not only gives partners the opportunity to sell products that we're offering but [also gives them the opportunity] to deploy, assess and manage.

Expand on the service opportunity for partners and how they can take advantage of this opportunity.

Rauch: This is an evolving opportunity and a maturation. When you look at the Americas, we have always utilized partners for services; for example, partners who are delivering services on VMware paper and partners who are delivering services on their own paper. We've been enabling partners to do services and we've provided partners with the opportunity to shadow our services people.

So what we're announcing in services is more of a framework and structure around the way we're going to enable the channel and be able to offer them a more predictable services environment. [VMware announced the Partner Professional Services Program at PEX 2015.]

That's a win-win for both of us. The win for VMware is that we're driving technology faster as a result of people delivering it and we're driving sales and the adoption of technology. For the partners, it's more value to their installed base and it's more margin as a result of giving them a services opportunity.

The details on the new services program will be filled in, as it's going to be more of an iterative model, but right now we've given partners a good delineation as to where they're able to deliver their own services and I think we've given them a wide variety of enablement. Whether it's on NSX, VSAN or some of the emerging technologies, if they want to get proficient and have expertise in that area, they have the ability to gain that delivery expertise.

The other part that we're doing -- and it's new in the Americas -- is to catalog the services that partners are offering. So, literally, on a monthly basis in the Americas, we're communicating to our field exactly who the partners are that are invested in the enablement we're offering.

AirWatch wasn't a done deal at PEX 2014, but now it is. What's the opportunity for partners?

Rauch: We've definitely moved in the direction of integrating the [AirWatch channel with the VMware channel]. We're working very closely with Jeffrey Mitchell with the Americas sales organization at AirWatch and we're adopting some of their best practices and they're adopting some of our best practices. And, certainly we're seeing a lot of cross-pollination between AirWatch traditional partners moving to other VMware offerings and traditional VMware partners moving to AirWatch.

Many of our largest partners were already selling AirWatch and others [were] selling competitors' mobile offerings, but I think a lot of them have switched over to VMware and AirWatch simply because they can consolidate their line card and they want to be able to leverage the VMware brand within their organizations.

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