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Even as small and midsize business favorite Microsoft gets set to launch Hyper-V,
its free virtualization offering, virtualization market leader VMware is
preparing for the new competitor by creating a program to attract system
builders.

And the program’s ability to attract those board designers could have a big
effect on who wins the next battle. Market analysis company IDC
estimates that system builders are responsible for a hefty chunk of the x86
server market—20 to 25 percent.

The new program will not only provide system builders with OEM certification on
ESXi, VMware’s lightweight version of a hypervisor, capable of being embedded
on a motherboard; it will also give them time-to-market parity, says Geoff
Waters, director of emerging channels at VMware.

And it gives system builders a way to move into another part of the market,
according to Waters.

"Service providers are telling us as hardware margins continue to get
squeezed that they are looking to get into the software and services side of
the arena," Waters says. "They can preload ESXi for free and then
upsell higher-end products and then offer service and support around that. They
can go from being box builder to being solution provider."

Plans for the new system builders program have been in the works for a year now,
with VMware offering OEM certification on ESXi to system builders. Waters says VMware
will have 50 unique single-, two- and four-socket systems available from OEMs
that are ESXi-certified.

"This enables choices for end users and will give our reseller base more
choices," Waters says.

The new system builder program comes under the umbrella of VMware’s VIP
partner program. In the past, system builders have joined other parts of the
VMware program, Waters says. Now, with the new program designed for their
specific needs, VMware is hoping to recruit some of the 5,000 to 10,000
estimated system builders around the world.

Click
here to read about changes VMware made to its partner program in 2008.

The system builder program includes three components: technical, education, and
marketing and sales. Technical offers presales support, online troubleshooting
courses and access to a knowledge base. Education offers system builder-specific
training online, a system builder community forum within the company’s portal,
and access to best practices and success stories.

The marketing and sales component gives system builders access to the VMware
system builder logo. System builders will also be part of the system builder
locator.