The cloud promises to change the way IT is consumed and managed forever. The pace of change is accelerating and we can safely assume that, in the not-distant future, most or all services will be delivered from the cloud, on a subscription model.
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Customers will, of course, still need supplier organisations to provide and manage those services – as hosting and managed services providers, and as specialist aggregators, administrators and performance managers. This role will naturally fall to the ‘reseller’ – although they will need to transform their businesses quite radically in order to meet the changing needs of customers.
But what lies beyond the cloud for vendors has not been discussed at such length. How will they be impacted by these changes? Will they have to change and adapt as much as their reseller partners?
At VMware, we have always taken the position of being the thought-leader and visionary within our sector of the market. We pioneered virtualisation and when we brought the concept within the reach of every organisation that needed to run multiple servers and optimise use of resources, it opened up a myriad of new opportunities both for resellers and end customers.
The first wave of virtualisation meant we could reduce the size and cost of managing data centres
Now VMware is leading the way again, with technology that will also enable both the network and storage infrastructure to be virtualised and managed with software. But the scenario in the market is entirely different today. The first wave of virtualisation meant we could reduce the size and cost of managing data centres; in this new era, the availability of cloud services makes an almost infinite number of infrastructures and approaches viable. Apps, services, infrastructure, storage, security, the entire network, can be virtualised and situated on-premise or in the cloud and managed remotely.
This is shifting power towards the users. The possibilities are now so vast and open that customers can now effectively design the ideal infrastructure in concept, take it to their trusted provider i.e. reseller (how ‘resellers’ develop their capabilities in this respect is a subject worth considering separately) and ask them to refine and deliver it. They will be expected to advise on and provide the optimum infrastructure for a given application workload, whether that is ‘on-premise’ at the customer, in a managed private cloud or in a public cloud. What’s more, they’ll then need to be able to seamlessly move workloads from one environment to another as requirements change, without the need for complex and expensive migrations.
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This has profound implications for us as a vendor. We have been aware of this far-reaching change taking place for some time, and have effectively re-engineered the way we drive our research and development. We are also changing the way we work with our partners and customers. Their strategies and directions – what can be achieved by the customer with technologies and services, rather than simply what technology can do – is now the starting point for new ideas and developments.
We are also being much more sensitive and adaptable to the individual needs of resellers and integrators. Our partners have the closest regular contact and engagement with end-user customers and in the era of hybrid infrastructures upon which organisations have a very high level of reliance, we expect relationships between the customer and reseller to become much closer and interdependent. This will make partner relationships even more important to VMware too.
we expect relationships between the customer and reseller to become much closer and interdependent
Instead of today’s clearly-defined relationships between us, partners and customers, we envisage a much tighter and complex set of interactions. VMware and its partners will have to become much more aware and responsive to customer needs than we ever have been in the past.
Having already undergone this transformation ourselves, offering our partners and their customers ultimate choice in how they procure and consume our software, we are leading resellers in the same direction. We are building what we believe is a much more harmonised and liquid ecosystem that will allow partners and our own business strategy and direction to be guided by the real needs of our mutual customers.