VMware Partner Connect Gets Major Makeover to Cut Complexity
VMWARE VMWORLD — Admitting that the company’s partner program has grown increasingly more complex and complicated for partners over the past decade, VMware is doing a ground-up revamp of Partner Connect and will roll out a simpler and cleaner program to partners on Feb. 29, 2020. The original announcement of the partner program overhaul was first made in April at the company’s Partner Leadership Summit in Carlsbad, California.
With 90% of revenue flowing through partners, VMware knows it needs a partner program that’s easy to navigate if the company is going to meet CEO Pat Gelsinger’s goal of doubling revenue in the next five years.
Richard Steeves, senior director, worldwide partner programs at VMware, met with Channel Futures at VMworld to discuss the company’s strategy for Partner Connect, and answer some of the many questions that partners will be asking in the weeks and months ahead.
VMware has about 75,000 partners worldwide, about 20,000 that are considered active.
Channel Futures: VMware is cleaning up its Partner Connect program. What’s the problem?
Richard Steeves: For the last decade, we’ve had multiple partner programs that responded to route to market, product or business-unit-focused strategies. I feel guilty having built and launched a few of these in the past. It created a great deal of complexity.
What we’re trying to do is a better job of putting our partners at the center of the equation — much like the SaaS transformation and journey where vendors are no longer pushing products through channels to customers; rather, it’s more about an experience you create with customers at the center of the circle and create an experience over the life cycle of that customer through a relationship. That’s what we’re trying to do with VMware Partner Connect.
CF: How extensive is this revamp?
RS: Beyond the legal and contractual standing of, “here’s the program and here’s the benefits and requirements,” we needed to go way beyond that. The systems and tools of record, of engagement, our partner central and partner portal all need to be reinvented to deliver a better experience for our partners.
If we want to earn the right to, as [CEO] Pat [Gelsinger] said on the main stage, double the business over the next three to five years, and if we want to change the way that revenue today accounts for 7-10% SaaS subscription consumption to be more than 20%, we have to think fundamentally differently about how we engage with our partners, as well as, what the skills and capabilities are that we need to drive growth and innovation with our customers in the future.
For the future, we need to make sure that we have a simplified program that doesn’t ask partners to align or engage with us the way that we’re organized internally and instead focus on their customer, choose the right business model, choose the right investment strategy, choose the right monetization vehicle, or not. If they’re a service-only partner, they’ve not traditionally had a home within our partner programs. If you’re a non-transacting partner, across the customer life-cycle journey there are many partners and partner business models that add value into that equation, and we want to create a home for all those partners through a single program.
You’ll see us modernize solution competencies to be more thoughtful and mindful of the partner business model. You’ll see us be smarter about enabling partner capability specific to services — starting with our foundational requirements and making them …