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Tech Data has entered the virtualization fray by signing VMware to its portfolio, becoming the vendor’s fifth U.S. distributor.

Tech Data announced today that it will now offer the entire VMware portfolio to its customer base through its Advanced Infrastructure Solutions Division.   

Pete Peterson told Channel Insider the conversation with VMware started in earnest 12 months ago, but the two firms wanted the timing to be right. “We wanted to make sure our AIS division was up and running and fully developing,” he added.

However, the distributor is joining Arrow, Avnet, Ingram Micro and LifeBoat in the vendor’s distribution line up, and Peterson said for the first six months there is a list of around 50 to 60 VARs that are in an exclusion zone from Tech Data. “This was a joint decision, as we intend to bring incremental business to VMware,” Peterson said.   

He added that with the expected growth of VMware, which grew revenues 88 percent year on year for 2007, there should be enough business for all five distributors. “We intend to focus our efforts on the midmarket and also target VARs that have not shown as much growth as they should, given the opportunity in the market,” he said.

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VMware has increasingly looked to move down the chain and target smaller midmarket businesses. The vendor recently revamped its VIP partner program, lowering the barrier to entry for smaller VARs. “There are only so many large enterprise customers out there. Virtualization technology is ideal for midmarket customers because it allows them to run multiple applications on just one physical server. This is where we will bring in new partners, ” Peterson said.

Tech Data has already trained 200 of its sales, field sales representatives, product managers and systems engineers to be certified VMware Sales Professionals (VSPs) or VMware Certified Professionals (VCPs). Peterson said the firm plans to double that number within the next 90 days.