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VMware Cloud Provider Program

A short discussion on VMware’s Army of Service Providers and MSP’s

I’ve had an off and on relationship with the VMware Service Provider offerings over the last few years. I’ve worked for a partner, then on to VMware Perpetual Sales and now with VMware Service Provider division. I came back because I absolutely love the offering.

When I worked for a Service Provider Partner, this program was called the VMware Service Provider Program. Simple enough. Then the name was changed to vCloud Air Network. This was roughly around the time of vCloud Air becoming available. I’m not going to lie, it was pretty confusing for customers. With that confusion and some opinions on vCloud Air as a product, I’m curious if customer automatically assumed vCAN had the same reputation.

Now, vCloud Air has been sold to OVH. Who, funny enough is a VERY large vCloud Air Network Partner. It was a huge win-win in my book and really gave OVH more leverage in the US market. You see, OVH is killing it in Europe. So, when presented with the opportunity to onboard large set of new customers and operationally take on new data centers in one shot, it provided a unique opportunity.

So, this week, VMware announced that the vCloud Air Network program will now be called the VMware Cloud Provider Program. A smart move in my book to distance from the vCloud Air name as well as really driving their purpose in this Hybrid Cloud future VMware is painting. VMware wants to empower these partners and our customers with the tools to provide a great experience, whether its Infrastructure as a Service or Managed Services for those partners that want to go above and beyond. This Service Provider Program is over 4500 strong and growing each quarter.

Now, with last years announcement of VMware Cloud on AWS and it becoming generally available this week you wouldn’t be wrong to think this is another situation where VMware is competing against the service provider community. BUT! I challenge you to take another look with me.

VMware Cloud on AWS is a great offering with the ability to stand up new environments on the fly. It will help companies take advantage of AWS services using an infrastructure model they are intimitaly familier with. The idea as I see it is that companies with an IT workforce, have the engineering know-how to utilize such a service, but companies with minimal IT or who are already running on a service providers offering via MSP model may not know where to even begin.

This is where the MSP model in the future will step in. VMware is working to empower our MSP partners to resell the VMConAWS service, so they can continue to support their customers but offer the same flexibility the larger customers will now begin to enjoy. It’s not a competition when we still want our MSP partners to grow in this model with us.

I’m looking forward to watching these offerings grow, especially in how we offer them to our partners. The VCPP and MSP future is bright.

Technical Compliance and vCloud Air Network

For the last year and a half, I’ve been working as a Systems Engineer for VMware’s Commercial segment. I’ve really enjoyed the time on this team, engaging customers in the field and getting comfortable with VMware’s sales practices. During this time, my boss had recommended me for a potential vCloud Air Network position because of my background working for a vCAN partner. That recommendation didn’t pan out but it did trigger a serious consideration for vCAN as my next move.

As of this month, I am official the Technical Compliance Systems Engineer. Odd title but what it means is that I will be focusing on Usage Meter and helping build a better reporting process for VMware’s Service Provider network.

I will be focusing on Usage Meter and program compliance. Its a pretty neat role in that this is the first one in the company. It will be interesting in that I have a chance to define the role as the program grows. As the vCAN moves forward, I believe there is definite need to make changes to the reporting process and the data that is collected. I have a few ideas already and look forward to diving in. Some of the things I am excited about is creating content for the SP’s and assisting on changes to the program that benefit everyone involved. From what I’ve seen so far, SP’s should be very excited.

Thoughts on the VSPP / vCAN Program

One of the interesting things about my career thus far is working for a Service Provider. Working in Telecom settings has its challenges, even more so whiny throw virtualization into the mix. But one of the things that can help or hurt an SP is licensing. Technology companies trying to work with SP’s will usually offer a usage based plan to work their licensing into the companies Operational Expenses.

Why is this so different? Well, everything that the SP produces from their product line, is typically charged on a usage basis. So this helps to figure into the revenue stream, how much of that revenue pays for the licensing that is necessary to host or create the product. The downside is that over time it starts to really add up. If you want a good example, try to even wrap your head around the SPLA licenses from Microsoft. SP Licensing can get very complicated, but in the end, it can be very helpful.

So let’s take VMware into example. On average when you think about VMware and the licensing, it looks and to your wallet, feels very expensive. The initial up front cost hurts, but is followed up with support costs. As you grow, you buy additional up front licenses to cover the additional servers, followed up then by the additional support costs. But when you are a Service Provider, your licensing is based on usage.

You pay in one way or another, per hour. Yup… thats nuts, but really its cents per hour. I’ll explain in a little more detail in another post, but VSPP / vCAN lowers the cost of entry so that Service Providers can worry about what they do best.

So where don’t I like it? Well, the formula for licensing could be easier. But, what really grinds my gears is that for smaller SP’s, it really lack the resources to help then get up and running or improve upon their infrastructure. What I mean is that there isn’t really a lot of Systems Engineers available to SP’s. The account reps are less responsive and those reps cover the whole of the US. After voicing this at Partner Exchange at VMworld, I met a few people with helpful answers.

Yes, Systems Engineer resources for Service Providers needs to be better, but in the mean time you have things like vmLive and other webinars that can introduce you to people within VMware. Those contacts will be very helpful. vmLive does add value because its free! On top of this, VMware has started to release their Validated Designs that are a top down configuration design of SDDC’s. As more of the VVD’s become available, I would imagine that they will cover some area that coincides with how you could deploy SDDC within your constraints.

Another thing that I don’t care for is that there are no Global Contracts for organizations using smaller than 60,000 point contracts. You could talk with the reps to potentially agree on 30,000, but thats still relatively high. You could fit about 1000 VM’s or more depending on their RAM allocation.

Lastly, but most importantly, the program just isn’t flexible enough. For organizations that use it to build IaaS within their company, if you don’t need vCloud Director but maybe something like vRealize Automation, you can’t swap them. You have to end up paying $5+ a VM per month, or do without (Or make custom built GUI’s over Orchestrator). In some cases, depending on usage, that could double your licensing fees. I think there needs to be some flexibility with vCD and vRA. Especially since there is little faith in a product that is not being fully developed any longer (API’s only… not GUI). Not everyone is large enough to build their own frontend for vCloud Director.

All in all, the program in very interesting, and its value show within the savings, but I feel there is room for growth to handle the varying degrees of service providers and companies just starting to deploy new virtualized infrastructures.