VMWare faces Channel challenge

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The company is going to have to do some major surgery to its channel operations if it will pay off

VMware has had a recent CEO swap and it is starting to look like the company wants to change its plans.

EMC’s Pat Gelsinger is taking over the CEO job from Paul Maritz who will now become the company’s EMC’s chief of strategy. This shows that VMware and EMC are more or less operating as one company. It also indicates that VMware’s days of being a virtualisation company are over.

According to The Var Guy the two are trying to virtualise servers, storage and networking and help customers gear up for for cloud computing.
Recently VMware acquired Nicira for about $1.2 billion. Nicira is a network virtualisation company and before the deal Cisco listed Nicira as one of its major threats.

VMware has historically partnered with Cisco, but now it owns that company’s worst enemy that might cause a few problems particularly on the Virtual Computering Environment Company, which is also backed by EMC and Intel. The three were behind the new Northern Ireland Education Cloud which is being supplied by Northgate Managed Services has been awarded a £170m contract.

VMware has also bought Log Insight which is a data centre management tool provider. The latter move will be of use to its channel partners who are scratching around for tools to optimise cloud systems.

But this change in direction will cause a major headache for VMware’s channel, which was built around virtualisation. Overnight VMware’s product line has become the sort of complex hodgepotch of software that VARs and cloud service providers hate.

It is a lot easier to sell software which has a single interface and does whatever the client wants. Suddenly VMware is lots of things and at the fore front of a strategy which was not on the original tin. Its channel would have started out selling virtualisation and now is having to sell cloud programmes.

On paper VMware is doing very well. It has strong quarterly results and is still the king of virtualisation. But its future is less certain as other companies try to stick their oar in. Microsoft just handed its partners training to Migrate to Hyper-V. Windows Server 2012 with Hyper-V 3 arrives in September and then gloves with VMware will not only be off, but will be stored in a locked cupboard where they will never be seen again. Cisco just bought Insieme which was a virtualisation specialist and Red Hat is having a stab at pushing storage virtualisation and network virtualisation.

While VMware’s new direction makes sense, it still means that it has a tricky job improving at training its channel.

This means that programmers working in VMWare’s offices will be flat out trying to stuff all these cloud services under one interface. Once they manage that, then VMWare will have to retrain its channel and make sure that it is singing from one hymn sheet.

Any chance of making Gelsinger’s vision work largely depends on its ability to do that.

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