By - Moumita Deb Choudhury
Every organization is bent on generating new opportunities while pushing frontiers for heightened digital proficiency and business growth. Cloud infrastructure and business mobility provider VMware collaborates with its channel partners to offer the solutions to customers who do not have skilled resources to adopt the IT changes due to complexities of IT, and they look for professionals who can help them to optimize and take full advantage of their current investments.
In an exclusive interaction with Channel Times, Sundar Balasubramanian, Senior Director - General Business (Commercial Sales & Partners), VMware India, offers an insight into VMware’s channel ecosystem and also discusses ways through which channel partners and vendors can have a smooth sailing relationship in the ocean of technology driven operations.
Channel Times: How are your channel partners categorized and what are your channel initiatives for India?
Balasubramanian: We have a standardized partner categorization. There are three categories of solution providers which include Premier solution providers, enterprise solution providers, and professional service solution providers and they are the registered partners on VMware Partner Network (VPN). All the rewards are stitched around the classification of partners. Our reward program is clearly aligned to two things, one is the competency of the partner which he or she brings in terms of certification, etc. and the second is the effort put in by the partners. The more effort you put in terms of discovering an opportunity and selling emerging products, the deeper are the reward programs. Our partner program is uniform across the world and that ensures us the desired competency by the partners.
Channel Times: What kind of hand holding do you do for the partners?
Balasubramanian: We do a bunch of things as nowadays there is no single formula to maintain a good partner relationship. For the new product launch, we do webinars which we announce in advance and we rope in subject matter experts for it. All our training programs are scheduled for every six months. Also, we do accreditation, where there is classroom training on labs and there are partner boot camps. We bring techies to give the partners clarity about our products. For the serious ones, we do what we call, score certification which is a proper nine yards of getting the partners trained followed by a certification exam.
Channel Times: Is it the same for tier II and tier III partners? What challenges do you find while working with tier II and tier III partners and are you aware of any challenges which they face?
Balasubramanian: Some ground rules on partner skilling and enablement is that all the courses that partners have, they are the same as that of our internal employees. We don’t differentiate, so absolutely everybody has access to the same set of sales and technical courses. There is nothing that the internal employees know and the partners don’t. If partners seek a particular course module or certification, we are happy to provide them.
Also, basically we look at a reward program in entirety and we don’t differentiate as tier 1, tier 2 or tier 3 partners. Some companies have reward programs based on the reviews that are classified into platinum, gold, and silver, ours’ is not so, we have competency as the major driver for classification of partners. My partner team doesn’t have any flexibility of saying move the enterprise partner to the premier or move the premier partner to the enterprise. We are consistent in terms of classification, we are consistent in terms of rewards. Obviously, the higher the competency you have, the better are the rewards.
Channel Times: What kind of growth do you see coming from the emerging markets?
Balasubramanian: The growth is pretty fast in tier II and III markets and is driven by the partners. For that matter even in tier I, a substantial chunk of the business is driven by the partners. Since our sales force and technical force is not very large in the lower tiers, these markets are completely led by the distributors.
Channel Times: What is that top trait that is sought by both Vendor and Partner in each other?
Balasubramanian: Unless the partner is in the top list for me and I am in the top list for the partner, all the investments and covered funds will not flow right away because it would not be a strategic partnership.
Channel Times: When we talk to channel partners we get the feedback that although they are the ones facing the customers directly, not all the time do they get enough support they want or required from the vendor?
Balasubramanian: Sometimes we are in the rush of the business, in terms of going out and getting the business from customers and among all these, we often forget to take some time to introspect, pause and see if it is relevant or not. So, there are no right or wrong answers. I think a little more directness to each other would do good. Working out a two-way feedback session is extremely helpful, which we often do. Moreover, a good event with a lot of honest conversations is ideal. I think we are at a cusp of a very good technology story in the market and our recent Partner Leadership Summit was a good two days event.