LAS VEGAS – At its annual VMware Partner Exchange conference on Tuesday, VMware introduced a program to give the cloud a little credit.

Actually, the vendor’s new Cloud Credits Purchasing Program will give VMware partner an opportunity to cash-in on the demand for cloud computing and offer public or hybrid cloud services to their partners without making the investment to enter the service provider market themselves. VMware’s vision for enterprise-class cloud computing infrastructure services built on its VMware vCloud technology involves a seamless mix of public and private cloud services, and it notes this hybrid cloud vision requires a comprehensive IT strategy and the ability to control spend and manage providers effectively.

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Geoffrey Waters, senior director of VMware’s cloud service provider program, said the credits program brings the solution provider and service provider communities together. Solution providers can augment their private cloud sales with “credits” toward a public cloud service provider offering. Partners get upfront revenue and remain the trusted advisor for their customer, and customers manage their credits through MyVMware.

“We think this is a very innovative and strategic program,” said Waters. “It will help solution providers make up front cloud revenue, increase deal size, and grow their overall cloud business.

The credits will earn partners comparable margins as other VMware offerings, and RackForce is among the service providers signed up in Canada.

In addition to the cloud credits program, VMware announced a number of tweaks to its partner program. Among them is the introduction of role-based learning paths to its seven specializations. IT professionals that have completed a certification will be further able to brand it based on their specific role, such as sales, presales or systems engineer, or post-sales technical professional.

It’s about simplification said Colleen Kapase, senior director of partner readiness with VMware, as well as allowing IT professionals to brand themselves more strongly.

“It’s a better alignment to how they brand their organizations,” said Kapase, noting the change will not involve changes to program requirements or training.

VMware has also launched Partner Link, a secure social media communication platform that VMware will use to communicate with its channel and gain feedback on company initiatives. It’s based on Social Cast, which Kapase said VMware has been using internally with success for some time. It will be a secure community for VMware and its partners only.

“It’s a great way to form more of a direct relationship with partners, and for them to connect with subject-matter experts,” said Kapase. “It’s about putting the information where they can grab it in real time.”

Finally, VMware has announced special incentives around two products that are core to what it is calling the software-defined data centre.

The first is its recently introduced VMware vSphere with Operations Management, which brings together its virtualization platform and its management suite. For a limited time, VMware will offer an additional upfront discount on eligible sales of the offering, and partners with the VMware management competency will earn additional rewards.

Additional incentives are also available for VMware’s recently announced VMware Horizon Suite, which brings together VMware Horizon Workspace, VMware Horizon Mirage and VMware Horizon View into an integrated solution.

“We’ve heard a lot of feedback that if you really want to impact profitability, doing it upfront on the deal is an easy way,” said Kapase. “We feel (VMware vSphere with Operations Management) will be a huge deal so we wanted something easy, fast and immediate.”

The incentives launched last week and run through the third quarter.

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