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VMware Crossing the Chasm

Posted on Wednesday, February 11, 2009 | No Comments

Has VMware crossed the chasm, what about the partner community?

I never go anywhere without a handkerchief or a book, long running habit. If its during the week I also never go anywhere without my own whiteboard pens.

At the moment I am reading "Crossing the Chasm" by Geoffrey Moore. I suspect everyone in IT has already read it, its been around a long time. Great book. My focus on reading it is "Where is VMware at in the market lifecycle?" but just as importantly "What does that mean for a VMware partner? How does a VMware Partner need to adapt?".

Lets just take this paragraph which contrasts the second wave of customers from the first wave who are early adopters.

[...], the early majority want to buy a productivity improvement for existing operations. They are looking to minimize the discontinuity with the old ways. They want evolution, not revolution. They want technology to enhance, not overthrow, the established ways of doing business. And above all, they do not want to debug somebody else's product. By the time they adopt it, they want it to work properly and to integrate appropriately with their existing technology base.
This and the rest of the book really hit a note with me on a number of fronts.
  • Where do VMware think they are at in the technology adoption life cycle and how are they adapting to the different market? I saw a Tweet the other day pleading with VMware to not release vSphere early. All us early adopters want it now, but who cares really. What matters is that its rock solid for the next group of customers who will not be as forgiving as the current customer base.
  • How is VMware doing at minimizing the  discontinutity? We can see good efforts here with function, such as the N1K removing much of the network disruption and in the area of process VI:OPS is helping to address operation gaps. But is this enough? What else needs to be done?
  • What are VMware partners doing to adapt to the changes in the market? This is the important one to me. VMware partners are accustomed and now skilled at selling to the early adopter customers, how do we need to change to sell to this new market?

    How is VMware helping its partners change? The conversations I have with prospective organisations are now much different to a year ago. The messaging, the proposals, the services we offer will need to change to address this new market.

    This month I am attending quite a few meetings with our front line sales people to help them tackle the challenges they now face, because they are selling to a new group. Take what I keep hearing cited as a door closer. "We already have a partner for VMware." They don't know how to answer, because they are only used to selling to green fields, they move to a different subject. What I find this answer means is that the customer purchased some licenses off another partner more than a year ago, but there is little relationship. Our opportunity is to journey them on the maturity model, introduce the broader technologies from VMware and 3rd parties, prepare them for cloud computing. Today's customers are more concerned about operational practices, procedures, integration and interactions between departments. The early adopters did not concern themselves with such road block issues, they were a lot more concerned about the latest experimental feature which they wanted to roll out to every virtual machine from day one. There are dozens of examples of how the selling challenges are changing. VMware you may be changing your products for the new market? Are you training your partners for the new market as well?
This is why I think the work being done by people like Steve Chambers at VI:OPS with the 60-point blueprint is so critical for the next wave. VMware and its ecosystem of vendors and partners need to pull together here meet the needs of the next user base. These initiatives will benefit us all. 

VMware have the Partner Exchange event coming up in April which has been split from VMworld. I really hope they focus on enabling Partners for the new market and not the old one. Being so far away I can't make it to this event and VMworld, but it would be so great to talk to other partners (who are not competitors in my own region ) about these things and encourage them on how to change their sales and technical practice management. 

Would love to hear the views of others on this? How have you seen the market change? Post in the comments.


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