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Learnings from VMware’s Journey from Channel to Partner Ecosystem

VMware shares their experiences of adapting to the transformation of the channel from transaction to ecosystem.

This entry is part 3 of 13 in the series Building Partner Ecosystems

Speaking at the 2022 Ecosystem Business Summit Sandy Hogan of VMware chats with Workspan CEO Amit Sinha and CMO Chip Rodgers about their journey from Channel to Partner Ecosystem.

As Senior VP Worldwide Partner Sales Sandy is building VMware’s ecosystem to deliver multi-cloud solutions through a multitude of partners.

From Transactions to Collaboration

From 3m:20s the session begins by describing the primary transformation being one of moving from transactional to collaborative relationships with partners.

Sandy highlights that this isn’t unique to VMware but rather an industry-wide modernization, driven by changing customer expectations and demands, such as As-a-service models.


At 7m:00s Sandy raises the role of marketplaces as central to this disruption, a force multiplier that will transform the channel and the role of resellers. This has proven a big wake up call for VMware, requiring new specialisms as the transaction becomes the least important part of the customer lifecycle, and even out-dating the concept of channel.

This effect is driving a change of their partners, where VARs are evolving to focus more on advisory and managed services. Over the next couple of years 90% of the partners will have app dev capabilities vs 30% over the last few.

Partner Business Models

From 11m:40s Sandy describes how this has led VMware to focus on a framework of business models for partner enablement, for example they could be a Solution Builder or an Operator, with a keen emphasis on also enabling partner to partner collaboration, rather than VMware always being the centre.

For many years they have had Master Service competencies built around their technologies, which they will continue but now they are doubling down on use case offerings, so that partners can align more around industry and capability solution building.

This is where Workspan play a key role, as the objective is to enable rapid co-innovation of new solutions, which has been accompanied by a modernization of how VMware incentivises and rewards activities that drive their desired results – Not just sales but the component parts of successful customer engagement such as assessments, proof of value, migrations and deployments.

At 17m:00s one of the key challenges of these new models is profitability. This was a simple exercise when deals were only transactional but these new scenarios are more complex, so VMware are equipping partners with new tools to assess and measure profitability in a more granular manner.

The Role of Workspan

From 18m:30s Amit asks Sandy to expand in more detail on the role Workspan has played in enabling this transformation.

Sandy sets the scene by saying that while VMware has been renowned for their technology they weren’t necessarily the easiest to do business with, compared with channel ecosystem leaders like Microsoft for example, because of their transactional nature.

This meant VMware had fragmented internal systems and lacked a mature ecosystem management capability, but needed to unify sales models across a large partner estate and find the fastest path to value, leveraging automation as much as possible. Workspan has proven central to achieving that capability.

Series Navigation<< Partner Ecosystems: Trends, Predictions & 2023 ForecastPRM – Partner Relationship Management: Building Blocks for Partner Ecosystems >>

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