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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

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

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.