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VMware Adds Partner Tools

Under siege by Microsoft and Citrix Systems, virtualization leader VMware Inc. is stepping up its efforts to engage its channel partners to go after greenfield opportunities and gain stronger competencies in specific areas, such as SQL Server and Exchange Server.

The company last week launched its Solution Enablement Toolkits, or SETs. As the name implies, the tools are designed for the VMware Partner Network to offer packaged repeatable suites and selling best practices. It is targeted at the VMware Certified Advanced Professional Level, who have what the company calls VMware Solution Competencies, says Doug Smith, senior director of VMware's global partner strategy and programs. Smith says there are 3,500 such partners today.

"This is where we take our IP and basically packaged it up in a way that partners can build their own solutions offerings to customers," Smith says. "We've done between 80 to 90 percent of the work; the partner basically does that last 10 to 20 percent so they end up with individualized solutions."

The company earlier this year launched the first such SET, called vSphere Upgrade, designed to help partners migrate customers on older iterations to the new 4.1 version released last month. VMware is now offering seven SETs, targeted at the following:

  • vSphere Jumpstart, aimed at greenfield opportunities to shops that are not yet virtualizing their infrastructure
  • Microsoft Exchange on VMware vSphere
  • SAP on VMware
  • SQL Solutions on VMware vSphere
  • Desktop Virtualization Assessment
  • VMware View Pilot
  • VMware vCenter Site Recovery Manager Jumpstart

Smith says he is encouraged by the initial uptake: there have been 7,000 downloads in the first week. "Obviously there are multiple individuals that a partner may be downloading the toolkit, but we're really pleased with the results," he says.

Initiatives like this could be critical to VMware's efforts to fend off challenges from Microsoft and Citrix, which are both seeing growth of their respective Hyper-V and XenServer hypervisors.

"The upstarts might not have all the capabilities of VMware, but they are reliable and decidedly cheaper," writes Jonathan Laing, in Barron's, who questioned the company's ability to sustain its growth and justify its lofty valuation. According to Laing, VMware's stock price topped $89 recently, approaching levels not seen since late 2007, and toted a P/E ratio of 147, "making it vulnerable to even the slightest mishap."

Still, VMware chief marketing officer Rick Jackson tells Barron's in that same article that despite already having 190,000 enterprise customers worldwide and 97 percent of the Fortune 1,000, the "server market is immature and is hitting a 'tipping point' that eventually will lead to a more than doubling of server virtualizations."

If his forecast is even remotely on target, VMware partners could benefit from the new SETs the company is releasing. The question is, will VMware keep pace with the growth of Microsoft and Citrix?

If you've downloaded any of the SETs from VMware drop me line at [email protected] and give me your take.

Posted by Jeffrey Schwartz on September 29, 2010