Channel empowerment, customer outcomes, solution labs, orchestration, partner ecosystem, and frictionless access for business scale are a few of the twelve essential components for a future-ready partner program. VMware is systematically addressing each one of these. In February 2019, I spoke at an IBM event during IBM’s Partnerworld conference and presented the above components. Unfortunately, IBM has chosen to be extremely slow to go down the path of the imperative future direction. In direct contrast, VMware is using the right words and is traversing a measured way to put words into action.
Cloud has fundamentally reshaped the consumption of IT resources. By providing buyers with variable-cost access to software, software development environments, core processing, storage resources, and even specialized skills, the cloud’s Anything-as-a-Service model prompts a massive shift in IT spending from traditional products and to on-demand alternatives. As a result, the transition from conventional products to aaS is fundamentally disruptive to the IT channel.
Business infrastructure is no longer procured solely through asset purchases – there is an accelerating trend towards aaS procurement. The direction means an increasing proportion of single large transaction sales spreads across a multi-year period for a channel partner, which stresses sales management, compensation structures, financial management, and cash flow. It also places strain on the professional services group by changing/expanding the requirement for technical skills. Buyers increasingly need support for hybrid IT environments spanning conventional and cloud infrastructure. To remain viable, channel partners and vendor suppliers need to align scarce resources with shifting customer demand. Channel executives need to guide their businesses through the transition to hybrid/cloud, maintaining account relationships as customer expectations evolve from ‘what can you deliver?’ to ‘how can you support my business in a shared-risk environment?’ VMware has begun the shift to being a guide and partner enabler for an empowered future.
First announced in 2018, VMware re-introduced its Partner Connect program in 2020 with a shift to SaaS. One year later, I find that it is in touch with reality, successfully transforming for the future. VMware plans to achieve 40% revenue from SaaS and subscriptions by 2025 compared to 18% in 2020. It knows that efficient SaaS transformation begins with a practical engagement with the partner ecosystem and is doing so by transitioning from product sale focus to creating customer value and aligning with delivering customer business outcomes.