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VMware Consolidates, Overhauls Partner Program

VMware Inc. is taking its channel efforts to a new level of maturity with the announcement this week of the next-generation VMware Partner Network, which will launch later in the second quarter.

The Palo Alto, Calif.-based virtualization powerhouse announced the new partner program Tuesday at its Partner Exchange 2009 conference in Orlando, Fla.

Major changes include the combination of all partner types under one umbrella program, the introduction of partner competencies, a revamped Partner University and a revamped partner portal.

"A lot of partners are investing in VMware, so we want to make a big investment in our partner community," said Ben Matheson, senior director of global partner marketing for VMware. "What we want to do is lay out a consistent framework that we can leave in place for the next 10 years."

VMware's current partner program is somewhat fractured, with its 22,000 partners having joined various segment-specific programs that were created at different times. Current programs include the VAD Partner Program for consultants, the VIP Partner Network for resellers, and separate programs for resellers and systems integrators.

Now all partners will fall under the umbrella VMware Partner Network. One concrete change from that is that all partners will now have access to VMware's intellectual property around delivering virtualization services. "In the past, we had one program for providing service IP to our partners and one program where our partners actually sold our software. We've now made the service IP available to all the partners without a fee," Matheson said.

VMware is also rolling out solution competencies, similar to the competencies the Microsoft Partner Program unveiled in 2004 and which Microsoft continues to use for its partner network. Initially, VMware will offer four competencies. The baseline competency is infrastructure virtualization, which covers the server consolidation that represents the current bread-and-butter virtualization business for channel companies. "For our top-level, premier partners, infrastructure virtualization is the only competency that's required," Matheson said.

The other three competencies are business continuity, desktop virtualization and virtualization management. "These are really directly related to the hot areas. We didn't want to roll out a competency, which was kind of a niche," Matheson said, adding that new competencies could be added as the virtualization market develops.

Other changes include an overhaul of the content at VMware's online Partner University to conform to the virtualization competencies and role-base learning paths. VMware also reorganized its Partner Central partner portal in the hopes of making the content easier to navigate. More information is available on the VMware partner site.

About the Author

Scott Bekker is editor in chief of Redmond Channel Partner magazine.

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