VMware, Gartner, ‘Born in the Cloud’ Partners Take Center Stage

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CLOUD PARTNERS — The IT sales conversation, fueled by cloud, has changed, in a big way.

That was the message Toni Adams, vice president of partner and alliance marketing for cloud giant VMware, brought to the Fall 2013 Cloud Partners Conference & Expo during a keynote address on Wednesday.

To wit, more CIOs (taken from a sampling of the 500,000 customers with which VMware works) say they want IT-as-a-Service. Partners can help them achieve the goal of moving from a technology focus to one where IT actually helps differentiate a business. For this to happen, IT must be strategic rather than technical, Adams said. He added that the journey starts with virtualization, then moves to cloud, then turns into ITaaS.

Partners must then help customers consider the operating and financial parts of the business, to help ITaaS achieve its full potential. In other words, help end users enable the value of IT.  When all the pieces come together, the ROI speaks for itself. VMware research found that ROI reached 229 percent within organizations relying on ITaaS. In fact, 53 percent of ITaaS customers reported increased revenue attributable to that IT initiative, Adams said.

Meanwhile, VMware wants to keep resellers part of the cloud and is doing so by offering credits for referrals to VMware-powered service providers. This lets resellers participate in a deal, get up-front margin and remain the trusted adviser to the customer, said Adams.

The keynote cloud conversation then took a turn toward the future of IT, with a presentation from Gartner Inc.’s Tiffani Bova. The longtime industry analyst noted that more SMBs are using more cloud because they don’t have existing infrastructure to transition. That means opportunity for channel partners. However, in the mid-market, cloud adoption is slowing because the channel hasn’t embraced it, Bova said. Too many partners fear cannibalization of their existing revenue generators.

“If you think VDI will displace desktop, you won’t sell it," she said. “You’re going to sell what makes you money."

But cloud adoption does not stand at zero, Bova added, which means customers – if they aren’t already – will be asking partners for help. The problem is, without channel engagement, the cloud doesn’t make sense, Bova said. It doesn’t come to fruition unless partners themselves believe cloud can help meet end users’ goals.

“Moving your needle into new markets is difficult," she said.

But partners who don’t transition risk being displaced by those who are willing to sell cloud – such as so-called Born in the Cloud partners. To that point, Bova led a roundtable discussion with three such companies: Twilio, Cloud Sherpas and Burstorm. These firms are focused on their own intellectual property, Bova said, and Twilio’s Chetan Chaudhary agreed. Its intellectual property is the API into the telco networks, plus self-service and pay-as-you-go, he said. For Burstorm, it’s a big data application that crunches data on IaaS suppliers, said Ed Wustenhoff. And for Cloud Sherpas, adding value comes in integration and migration, said Michael Cohn.

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