VMware is using its conference this week to reiterate its focus on the channel and unveil solutions that the firm says will help drive partner revenue.

The virtualization vendor used the partner day yesterday to tell the 1,200 partner attendees that 2008 is all about leveraging partners, according to Matt Piercy, Channel director Northern Europe at VMware. Piercy cited the new incentives the vendor launched just weeks ago, alongside the additional training and its online concierge service to help partners, as ways the vendor is investing in its channel. “Last year was about recruitment, and this year it’s about doing something with the VARs we have on board,” he told Channel Insider from VMWorld in Cannes, France.

Click here to read more about VMware’s new incentives for partners.

At the conference, which is open to both end users and partners, VMware announced a series of technology alliances that Piercy said “would fuel business for partners like never before.”

VMware announced that it is embedding its VMware ESX 3i hypervisor into the server lines of Dell, Fujitsu-Siemens, HP and IBM.  Piercy said the software is a low-level partitioning software that would boot up immediately once the servers are switched on. “Customers get a very entry-level piece of single-server software, which will get them hooked. They will then want to upgrade to deploy this across their data center and this is where the VAR comes in,” he said.

Piercy said partners need to go to the hardware vendors now to find out where these servers are being deployed so they can be ready for the upgrades, implementation and added services.

Although there are no channel incentives around this latest announcement as yet, Piercy said it’s likely that the likes of Dell, HP, IBM and Fujitsu would put some channel incentives around their server offerings that include the VMware hypervisor.

VMware also announced at the conference an OEM deal with Sun Microsystems to expand their virtualization offerings. Sun will now offer its x64 servers with the VMware Infrastructure product suite, a move the firms said would benefit partners because the technology would be fully integrated and supported.