Channel Insider content and product recommendations are editorially independent. We may make money when you click on links to our partners. Learn More.

In an effort to spur its solution providers into immediate action, VMware execs urged their partners to differentiate themselves as quickly as possible through enhancing their virtualization skills and experimenting with private and public cloud integration.

At the company’s recent PartnerExchange event in Las Vegas, VMware execs suggested a variety of engagement models to encourage partners to team with each other and begin offering managed cloud services. These include leveraging their existing server virtualization skills to move into desktop and application virtualization services. The event featured a long list of what VMware called generically “infrastructure service providers” – 1,700 in total. We saw a new focus on a services-based solution provider at this conference, versus the company’s traditional hardware integrator/VAR. Those solution providers that joined VMware on stage had already built some significant private and public cloud-based services with a virtualization foundation.

The steps the company laid out for building customer success and cloud-based services practices included the following:

1.    Deploy private clouds in controlled pilots for customers. As with many of their peers, VMware is betting on private cloud implementations to be the next big services investment by CIOs. The company asserts that moving IT organizations past the 30% virtualized infrastructure level will require the customer to see significant cost savings and quick ramp times on core application areas for them to continue to virtualize and move to an IS services-based model.

2.    Virtualize non-mission-critical applications for public cloud utilization.  This next step included outsourcing apps. like email and collaboration to public cloud services. VMware featured a number of solution providers at the event who are offering SaaS hosting services and/or providing managed services around their recently acquired Zimbra messaging platform. 

3. Partner with service providers to resell their cloud infrastructure as a sales agent. VMware has finally gotten a serious “P2P” bug like many of its competitors. They were aggressively pushing an entry into cloud services as adoption of a sales agent or reseller model for other partners hosted public cloud services. Two of their leading solution providers, BlueLock and Apparatus, told a nice story about their early cloud successes in working together in this way.

4. Build your own private cloud infrastructure and resell it to customers as a managed service. This message was aimed at all partners, but will likely take hold in those with a serious infrastructure or managed services model already in place.  BlueLock, for example, has a nationwide 100% virtualized infrastructure in place, able to be sold in either single-serve low capacity models or as a full managed outsource business model.

5. Resell applications on top of a customers (or your) cloud infrastructure. VMware featured a number of SaaS providers who have been using the SpringSource application environment to build cloud-based applications. They encouraged co-selling and a reseller sales model for these services for partners dipping their toe in cloud investments, and pushed VARs to the Springsource and Zimbra booths at the PartnerXchange event.

With 1,700 virtualized infrastructure service providers involved in their VSSP program, VMware is readying itself for a new breed of channel partner. It will be interesting to watch what happens with the company’s existing 25,000 partners and their upcoming July 31 technical competency cut-off date. It is our suspicion that VMware partners will begin to see the company actively encourage P2P collaboration in order to leverage the emerging cloud competencies of partners with complementary skills. The days of being a server/storage reseller of VMware licenses alone are quickly fading. The new breed of solution provider for VMware will either have their own virtualized infrastructure or be in strategic partnership for these skills. VMware hopes to be cloud infrastructure provider of choice for all.

Beth Vanni is the Director, Market Intelligence at Amazon Consulting.