VMware's flagship event in Las Vegas, VMworld. Courtesy VMware.

Published: September 6th, 2018

VMware’s multi-cloud mantra at its VMworld user conference last week was reflected in changes to channel programs to help partners expand their offerings, and chief among those changes was the long-anticipated announcement that VMware Cloud on AWS is coming to Canada in Q1 2019.

Daemon Behr, solutions architect at Toronto-based Scalar Decisions, is excited by the news. Scalar deals a lot with public sector and financial customers who have been holding off moving to the cloud because of data residency requirements. Once the Canadian Region of AWS is available, he thinks there will be an uptick in cloud adoption.

Serge Bourdage, account general manager, Government of B.C. at Advanced Solutions, a DXC Technology Company, is also anxious to bring the offering back to his clients. At the moment, he said, he’s taking them through their digital transformation journey, driving strategy to help them put the pieces together. Government risk aversion means that movement is slow.

He’s most excited about the path to hybrid IT provided by the new VMware for Cloud services. VMware Cloud Provider Hub will offer a centralized portal for partners to purchase, provision, and manage VMware Cloud infrastructure and operations services offerings for multi-cloud. It will allow partners to expand their VMware Cloud infrastructure footprint with VMware Cloud on AWS and offer consistent multi-cloud operations with VMware Cloud Services, with simplified management and reporting and single click automated deployments.

“Service provider partners are emerging as the most important link between enterprises and their desired cloud infrastructure vendors,” said Carl Brooks, analyst, service providers, managed services and hosting, 451 Research, in a statement. “They provide the expertise, work and experience necessary to move at the pace today’s market demands. For vendors, enabling partners to make more money incents them to sell more software; it’s becoming a vital route to market for cloud platforms to as broad a base as possible.”

VMware Canada’s strategy has changed to accommodate this new world, said Sean Forkan, vice-president and Canada country manager. Last year was the first in his three-year plan, and country growth of 12 – 15 per cent exceeded all expectations.

Tara Fine, VMware Canada’s senior director for channels.

“We’re probably most evolved in the channel,” he noted. “It started with a mindset.” Now his goal is to build sustainable practices for partners, embedding dedicated architects to help them serve customers better. But, he said, one area for improvement is government, and he’s working with head office to develop a holistic strategy.

Prior to two years ago, a high percentage of interaction with partners was in technology and fulfillment, said Tara Fine, VMware Canada’s senior director for channels. Now the focus is on training and enablement; she wants to get to the point where partners are driving 30 – 40 percent of the business.

“It takes a lot of discipline to stick to key investments,” she said. “In the last 3 – 4 quarters, results are starting to show. It takes time to do the amount of training to turn partners into experts. We’re fortunate partners have had patience with us.”

The strategy seems to be working. Behr has seen a major difference in interactions with VMware. Since the beginning of this year, he said, things have improved steadily, with better information flow, invitations to participate in advisory groups, and training equivalent to that given VMware system engineers.

“Rather than recruit a significant number of new partners, we have placed our focus and investments on supporting and enabling our most strategic partners and those we believe will be critical in our efforts to scale our business across all of our solution areas,” added fine, pointing to partner-focused technical resources, partner managers, technical training, new programs and incentives. “Breaking down silos across the organization helped with partner relationships. We have to have the courage to win together and lose together.”