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Ricky Cooper talks with Channel Futures as he heads toward the third month in his new role.
August 30, 2022
“We’re looking at things differently than we did 10 years ago.” That’s the word this week from new VMware channel head Ricky Cooper, who has been on the job for two months.
And as VMware holds its Explore event in San Francisco – and as the company implements its revamped Partner Connect program – partners will be keen to hear more from Cooper, who replaced Sandy Hogan in June.
As VMware channel head, the U.K.-based Cooper now runs both the commercial and partner groups. Before that, he spent five months at VMware as vice president of global and transformational partners. Prior to March, he held the title of global vice president and general manager for almost two years. And he started at VMware as vice president of EMEA.
Throughout much of that time, Cooper has overseen VMware’s relationship with Dell (recall that Michael Dell owns slightly more than 40% of VMware shares). He further brings to the job more than a decade split among Dell, Microsoft and some data center companies. All of that experience, he said, “gives you a whole wealth of knowledge about how business has progressed, how cloud has progressed.” He intends to take all of that combined knowledge to bat as he adds the indirect channel to his responsibilities.
VMware’s Ricky Cooper
“The next phase is truly exciting for us … and our partners are absolutely central to that,” Cooper said.
The next phase, of course, refers obliquely to a Broadcom-owned VMware. While that $61 billion deal has yet to close, it remains top of mind for VMware Explore attendees and VMware channel partners. It’s also surely at the forefront of VMware employees’ thoughts, but the company is telling reporters executives will not comment on the pending acquisition. (That may change, to some extent, at VMware Explore.) Even so, Cooper appears to be moving full speed ahead.
“Full speed ahead” entails bringing together some different aims. For instance, Cooper plans to use his takeaways from the Dell relationship to bolster VMware channel initiatives.
“How do we take some of the learnings there and impart them on not just large global OEM partners … but how do we also work with some of the more transformational partners?” Cooper said.
Indeed, VMware has spent the past two years working to bring together all types of partners (the “ecosystem” approach) to facilitate more channel-to-channel cooperation. That has happened as VMware itself has emerged from its own transactional legacy business model. The mutual metamorphosis, on the part of both the channel and VMware, continues. Cooper sees that.
“It’s not just a VMware story,” he said of that ongoing transformation. “Partners are bringing partners as their model evolves.”
So how Cooper planning to enable the channel – and not just the big names – so they benefit from VMware’s changes? (If you’re not aware of some of the company’s most recent product updates, check out this wrap-up.)
“We have a number of things happening in the background,” he said.
Automation provides a key example. As readers may recall, Partner Connect soon will feature a lot more self-serve functionality. That means managed service providers, resellers, consultancies and other partners will be able to view information such as accrued and future incentives, and sales pipelines, or which newer, cloud-native services to start selling. (Remember, VMware is moving to an all-subscription business, so partners have to follow the trend.) The enhanced Partner Connect program also gives partners access to more ancillary guidance, such as go-to-market and engineering help.
“We’ve listened to our partners and the customers on how they would like to see doing business with VMware become a lot easier and more simplified,” Cooper said. “And we’re well on the way to demonstrating that.”
Part of that listening appears to be translating into paying more attention to smaller partners.
“I don’t want to just take care of the largest ones we have,” Cooper said.
Keep in mind, however, that VMware’s recent Partner Connect updates do invest more in partners who …
… sell more VMware platforms. Logically, partners with less heft than, say, an Accenture, do not sell as much as their larger counterparts. Thus, in terms of how Cooper and his team might connect with those smaller MSPs, resellers, consultants and others, he said, “we’ve got to ensure we’re reaching out the olive branch.”
“We’re trying to ensure we’ve got something for everybody,” he said. “We’re not just focusing on one or two items, there’s a broad ecosystem play here. … It’s about partner interaction. … [W]hen our partners do invest in VMware … they’re rewarded for doing so and that can increase over time.”
So, might that require VMware channel leaders to develop a separate team that works closely with smaller partners?
“It certainly could,” Cooper said. “That’s something we’re going to have to assess as we move along.”
Still, he added, partners “have got to put skin in the game as well.”
In the meantime, Cooper said, “we’re becoming a better partner for the whole ecosystem.”
The new Partner Connect changes go a long way toward that, he asserted.
“We hadn’t necessarily had the data or the programs to reward our partners as appropriate,” he said. “Now you’re really going to be rewarding those that are doing more with you, investing more with you. … That’s what we’ve been asked for and what we’re starting to deploy.”
Along the way, Cooper is eyeing flexibility as a primary tool for delivering on VMware’s promises. When he said the company is looking at things differently than it did a decade ago, he said that comes down to being able to provide targeted digital solutions.
“Not every customer, not every partner, has the same outcomes, so we’ve got to be flexible,” Cooper said.
Contributing Editor, Channel Futures
Kelly Teal has more than 20 years’ experience as a journalist, editor and analyst, with longtime expertise in the indirect channel. She worked on the Channel Partners magazine staff for 11 years. Kelly now is principal of Kreativ Energy LLC.
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