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Newly appointed VMware channel chief Brandon Sweeney said the most important thing for him to accomplish is to not screw things up as he takes over for former VMware channel chief Ross Brown.

Brown has been named senior vice president for strategic corporate alliances as part of an effort to encourage VMware partners to develop managed services that are focused on applications running on integrated stacks of software from VMware. Despite competition from open-source rivals, VMware increased its financial guidance for fiscal 2018 to provide a 10 percent increase in revenue, with operating margins in the range of 33 percent.

Sweeney said there are already tens of thousands of additional sales opportunities registered by VMware channel partners. The primary focus now is to close as many of those deals as possible, he added.

VMware rivals have been trying to compete by referring to VMware licensing fees as a tax. The challenge most of them have encountered is that the main rival open-source platform to VMware is based on OpenStack, a complex suite of software that many IT organizations have found challenging to implement.

So far, VMware has successfully fended off OpenStack, but there are new open-source threats on the horizon. Organizations that have embraced containers such as Docker are starting to deploy those containers on orchestration platforms such as Kubernetes. While Kubernetes can be deployed anywhere—including on top of VMware and a public cloud—interest is rising in deploying Kubernetes on bare-metal servers that don’t require any virtualization software.

In the meantime, VMware is counting on partners to expand its footprint into the public cloud. Now that VMware Cloud on AWS is starting to become available, there are a lot of application workloads that need to be migrated from an on-premises environment running VMware to a public cloud running the same stack of software.

That doesn’t mean every VMware application workload is going to migrate to a public cloud. But there is a significant pent up demand for moving many VMware application workloads involving, for example, backup and recovery software, to a public cloud.

But there’s one thing VMware partners will have to get used to: Going forward, VMware plans to manage as many updates to its software as customers will allow, versus letting customers rely on channel partners to do that for them. As that opportunity to generate revenue fades, VMware is clearly hoping that channel partners will concentrate their efforts on managing applications rather than the VMware stack.