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Impressions from VMware Partner Exchange

This past week we attended VMware Partner Exchange (PEX) in Orlando.  This event has grown dramatically in the past couple of years, attracting 3300 participants this time around from 65 different countries.  We talked with a number of VMware channel partners, both large and small, and were struck by their level of physical and emotional commitment to the VMware marketplace.

Perhaps we shouldn't be that surprised by the partners' strong dedication - after all, VMware is still one of the hottest tech vendors and has made many of its channel providers quite wealthy.  As evidence of that, VMware estimates that each dollar of spending on VMware virtualization drags 15 dollars worth of other infrastructure, applications and services along with it, making this a $45 billion ecosystem (based on VMware's $3B of revenue in 2010).  But in this case, unlike at some other partner-oriented events we have attended over the years, the level of partner competence and interest lived up to the hype.

Virtualization adoption is well past the tipping point - far more servers are now deployed in virtual machines than directly on physical hardware.  Nevertheless, there is still plenty of headroom for growth in virtualization platforms (hypervisors and associated tools).  Based on our research, no more than one-third of all servers have been virtualized, and users plan to virtualize another one-quarter of their servers over the next two years, with the ultimate goal of virtualizing 75+% of all workloads.  This translates into a tremendous growth opportunity for VMware and the other hypervisor vendors.

But to reach these penetration levels, VMware and its rivals must now focus on virtualizing those tier-1 applications - ERP, CRM, messaging systems and the like - that CIOs have largely been unwilling to touch up until now.  With this in mind, VMware has made the virtualization of business-critical workloads a top priority for 2011.  In addition to enhancing vSphere production-level capabilities and performance, VMware is investing in partner programs and incentives to further this objective, such as its newly announced solution competency focused on virtualizing tier-1 applications.  Partners at the event seemed to be receptive to these efforts.

Though the cloud remains the focal point of VMware's technology and marketing vision, the company has thankfully simplified its cloud messaging and vocabulary.  Whereas past years' positioning revolved around running "any workload, on any device, anywhere", the new messaging is anchored to a traditional three-layer stack with something for everyone: infrastructure and management (for IT); application frameworks (for developers); and end-user computing.  Yes, each layer includes the "cloud" descriptor, but this aspect has been toned down.  We believe that the 2011 messaging will resonate with partners in a big way, since it's simpler, grounded in the present ("what can I sell today?"), and better aligned with the buyers and influencers that partners rely on for their success.

All in all, we enjoyed the event and the opportunity to get to know a cross-section of VMware's partner community.  We now look forward to seeing how all this translates to VMware market growth and end-user satisfaction in the year ahead.

  • Premiered: 02/13/11
  • Author: Jeff Byrne
Topic(s): VMWare Virtualization Cloud partners Server Virtualization


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