VMware foresees colossal channel business with SDDC: Sundar Balasubramanian

We ensure that the particular opportunity is created, progressed and approached with our channels, says Sundar Balasubramanian, Senior Director at VMware India.

VMware Jun 26th 2018
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Sundar Balasubramanian, senior director, General Business (Commercial Sales & Partners), VMware India talks on initiatives to strengthen its partner ecosystem in India with new trends of Cloud, End User Computing and SDDC. 

Edited Excerpts.

Highlight salient points on your partner initiates for the channels in India this year. 

I joined around three and a half years back and very much doing that now for 14 quarters in a row right now. When we talk about partners it’s been a good journey for us for the past couple of years. We have also broadened our product portfolio. A decade back, we were heavily gravitating towards the compute part of virtualization. The journey started on the end user computing part five years back and we acquired a company AirWatch. Around 4 years back we were Compute Company getting our hands around end user computing market, while just making inroads into the virtualization of storage and network. We acquired a company called IZEA and developed the product vSAN. So then to now, the product development is very healthy. We have integrated AirWatch to our End User Computing and develop WorkSpace One software for end devices. 

The client or the customer expects the same experience across multiple devices - iPads, laptops, desktops and mobiles. We have seen disproportionate growth for the last couple of years on server virtualization which obviously is VMware’s core bread and butter. We have also done really done well on vSAN and also seen good growth in software defined networking data centers. Our product strategy that’s laid out is that we are delivery adjacent company. We do what we do best which is virtualization across SDDC and its three key pillars - compute, storage and Network. The fourth and fifth pillar are however integrated pillar of the End User Computing portfolio (end point management) and the digital workspace.

We believe there is a wave of digital transformation in the market and the word digital transformation is as prevalent as what cloud was five years back. Digital transformation is where IT drives the business outcome. There is a tremendous push from our clients to modernize the data centers, or I should say software defined data centers. Most of them are on varying journeys on data centers transformation and hence security is a critical focus area for CISO and CIO. The other concern is integrating all the workloads with the public cloud. 

We are actively scouting for channel partners in India from both sides – the existing partners who can extend their competency into areas like SDN as well as new partners who understand the concept of SDN, SDDC better.

Sundar Balasubramanian, Senior Director, General Business (Commercial Sales & Partners), VMware India

Companies are looking at security, integration of cloud workloads and other aspects of IT infra. Will Indian enterprises stay in the Hybrid Cloud in near future? 

Around four years back, at the foray of the public cloud, the analysts and the people watching the industry believed that it’s going to be all public but our overall view was that it will be hybrid world. Any enterprise, any vertical from then to now predominantly has a mix of workload split across the cloud operators like Amazon, Azure. 

We have stated the direction as our product validates the fact that we offer the flexibility to our client to be either stay on premise and they can move the workload seamlessly to a corporate cloud today and one or two year later if they want to come back, it can be done with minimal effort. We have stated our intention to partner with AWS, so it is available to use. VMware already has partnership with salesforce since last year and a half. Also, we have stated our intention to partner with Azure. 

Do you believe 2018 to be the year of SDDC as industry reports suggest approximately ten percent of companies are fully software defined datacenter? What business opportunities exist for VMware channel partners to make money in SDDC space?

I think that ten percent is an underestimated number. Based on my conversations with CIOs and ITDMs across India even compute part with virtualized software layer is integral of SDDC. And there are other critical components of SDDC - compute, storage, and network – underlined with a strong fabric of security. I have rarely seen a CIO or an enterprise who hasn’t embarked on SDDC journey as yet as they realize the intelligence of software layer in computing for SDDC. People who have defined their compute part are now moving to virtualize their network and storage. 

There is lot of interest in terms of security as we layout the fiber or fabric for network fabric, and the software layer for security. We are not a security company but we define the software layer of networking. And that will be important part of their SDDC journey that will matter in 2018 and beyond.

Do you intend to add new channel partners for domains of next gen of digital workspace or security? What will be the key catalyst for niche Tier-2 partners?

The classical partner ecosystem is upgrading the game from providing the virtual infrastructure to providing the management automation through VMware products. Hence we encourage them to build this business and how they help automate the diversified workloads at their customer end not just from strategy stand point but ROI standpoint. The complete part of SDDC is ensuring that we provide those adequate enablement of skills.  

For emerging products like software defined networking, we are actively looking for partners who understand the networking along with the security domain. And security becomes an underlying fabric for a lot of used cases, whether it is micro segmentation or brand optimization. We are actively scouting for channel partners from both sides – the existing partners who can extend their competency into areas like SDN as well as new partners who understand the concept of SDN,SDDC better. The partner strategy also revolves around end point management as India offers the bigger opportunity due to huge number of smartphone users in the country with BYOD catching up. There is an emerging trend with these partners who not only want sell mobile phones but also sell mobile device management software. 

We do believe that we want to support the partner who brought the deal first into our system and help that person to progress irrespective of the quality, quantity or the size of the customer.

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Sundar Balasubramanian, Senior Director, General Business (Commercial Sales & Partners), VMware India

Partner profitability remains a key as many channel organizations in India have moved out from good old-days hardware sales (on premise) to OPEX model. What’s your take on the changing landscape?

There are two kinds of greys in the market – the point product channels focusing on hardware with much lower margins and value players who focus more on the services both pre and post the sale to the customers. These ways the value part of the ecosystem of the emerging partner ecosystem, this was the case four to five years back, we had to handhold for the entire customer journey but now most of them were leading voluntarily to a business model where they basically resell the OEM product as per the operating margins and partner programs. And they often add services layer to add profitability to the deal. The third part is that most partners want us to help them and their customers with the cloud journey. At the end there is some cloud activity for the partners that basically align with the likes of Azure or Amazon as an example.

We will align with the partners who bring the right skills, competence and capabilities to the enterprise customers. Channels who’ll achieve the highest satisfaction for the customers have a good chance of taking their business to new heights.

What about the industry challenge of many partners bidding for the same IT project? How do you create a balance of traditional and new partners as per partner segmentation or geography wise? 

We have a very robust deal registration process, especially for VMware partner or  part of VPN (VMware Partner Network) who can fill the registration, however big or small the partner may be. We execute it with whoever has got the deal registered number of what they seek, we either accept or reject that customer opportunity. We do believe that we want to support the partner who brought the deal first into our system and help that person to progress irrespective of the quality, quantity or the size of the customer. 

Obviously we do look at partners where we could stitch together, enhance business deal, look at the use cases and specific accounts and opportunities where we can work together. VMware works to ensure that the particular opportunity is created, progressed and approached with channels.

Why should Channel partners work with VMware, with the fierce competition from traditional tech giants and the new ones like Nutanix? 

We are the number one for channel partners when it comes to the choice of virtualization and the cloud story. VMware spots the strength story right and much earlier as we defined SDDC for the entire industry. We started mobile management years ago before other people started talking about it. We spotted the SDN first and it has now become a worldwide trend. 

We do best working on not just today’s trends but tomorrow’s as well. For eg. We have a very big investment in IoT which is the next big thing like the cloud. We are already on that journey to co-create with our customers. Apart from programs, our projects are very efforts based and hence more efforts leads to more rewards for partners. We want to maintain the partner ecosystem by making sure our partners have same access to the technology as the internal employees of VMware.