VMware 2010: Hosted Apps, Desktop Virtualization

By Jessica Davis  |  Print this article Print

VMware Partner Exchange channel partner conference in Las Vegas will set the tone for the virtualization giant's agenda in 2010, and the focus is on hosted applications including the recently acquired e-mail and collaboration platform, Zimbra, as well as desktop virtualization, which experts say will experience a breakout year in 2010.

If you are looking for a clue about VMware’s strategy going forward, take a look at the moves it's making with its channel partners today and for the rest of 2010. Hosted applications and desktop virtualization are front and center for the technology company that derives 85 percent of its revenues from the channel.
For instance, VMware has added a track to its VMware Partner Exchange 2010, held in Las Vegas this week, specifically to address the needs of so-called service provider partners – those who create and offer private "clouds" to customers.

"We’ve seen over 1,700 partners join that program," Ben Matheson, Senior Director of Global Partner Marketing, told Channel Insider. About 100 of those are attending the conference this week that for the first time includes a track especially for them. Topics will include VMware’s recently announced acquisition of Zimbra, a hosted open-source email and collaboration application that experts say will be disruptive to the entrenched Microsoft Exchange base.

"The track will look at how partners can take Zimbra technology and run it within their hosting environment, Matheson said. They will also address how to market and sell Zimbra and other hosted-applications to end customers. For the entire conference VMware will offer a "smattering of different areas where we will address Zimbra," noting that hosted applications are becoming more of a focus for VMware going forward.

VMware also will focus heavily on desktop virtualization during the Partner Exchange, a technology which many industry experts believe will be seeing more widespread adoption in businesses during 2010.

"We see an explosive growth in the desktop segment," Matheson told Channel Insider. But often companies want to see how the technology works in real-world environment rather than read about the specs.

So VMware will announce a rolling U.S. tour called the VMware Express – an 18-wheeler truck "focused on communicating the thin desktop vision." The truck will be equipped with four or five different types of thin clients, plus three different racks of server equipment, and it will tour the United States for the rest of the year.

The focus on the technology and sales is a shift from last year when VMware introduced many channel program investments and changes, while at the same time the 2009 recession hurt IT spending overall. Yet VMware still grew through the downturn, because "our product helps reduce costs," said Matheson.

In 2009, VMware launched new products (vSphere 4, management line of products called vCenter and desktop virtualization software VMware View 4), rolled out a new partner program and refreshed all its systems, he said.

In addition, VMware introduced "Competencies," which Matheson describes as like a merit badge awarded to a company that completes the necessary training across different functional areas.

VMware also introduced Partner University, a new partner training portal.

"We really made a big investment last year in making it easier for partners to do business with VMware," Matheson said. And partners lapped it up. Matheson said VMware saw a 400 percent increase in technical sales training. VMware saw an 85 percent increase in those attaining VMware Certified Professional (VCP) status.

Today, VMware claims 25,000 partners, up from 21,000 in 2008.

"We are still recruiting in emerging markets," Matheson said. And attendance is up at the Partner conferences as well with 2,500 registered attendees – up 50 percent over last year.

"We had to increase the size of the venue twice," Matheson said.

Jessica Davis covers the channel for eWeek and Channel Insider. Her technology journalism career began well before anyone heard of the World Wide Web and has included stints at Infoworld, Electronic News/EDN, and the Philadelphia Business Journal. Her work has also appeared on CNN and Forbes.com. She has covered hardware, software and networking, as well as the business side of technology. She has won several journalism awards, including a national ASBPE award for best staff-written column, and was named Marketing Computers hardest working tech journalist on their inaugural list of top tech journalists. Jessica can be reached at jessica.davis@ziffdavisenterprise.com