For most customers, the benefits of introducing any new technology must be far greater than risk associated with migration. In the majority of cases, risk stems from lack of prior working knowledge of the technology. An entire industry of systems integrators owes its existence to customers seeking to mitigate risk by engaging experienced professionals who can assure smooth transition. Virtualization is no different. Over the past decade, some customers have acquired necessary skills while others turn to their technology vendors as the source of know-how. We look at how VMware addresses customer need for knowledge and experience.

Consulting, education, training and certification are four parts of the knowledge continuum customers turn to. As technology matures, internal IT departments have certified professionals who are accountable. For VMware, these four activities are part of the Services organisation, which is distinct from the Support business. VMware’s Services are primarily focused at helping customers virtualize and optimize their IT environments. There are two distinct dimensions to the consulting capabilities:

  • product based, which covers all layers of the stack, from datacenter virtualization, virtualization of business critical applications, private cloud design and deployment/cloud based VM provisioning and catalog management and supporting infrastructure – including considerations for storage in a virtual/cloud computing environment.
  • solution based, which addresses needs that arise at different stages of cloud deployment or cloud management maturity.

From a practical perspective, vendors need to be present when customers are considering risk mitigation options. This could be during the pre-sales phase, sales phase or implementation phase. VMware has invested in numerous pre-sales roles, including sales (Account Managers), technical sales (Sales Engineers) and Services Sales (Services Business Managers). All three roles are closely aligned and work with customers to understand project and business needs, challenges they face, and how VMware products/solutions – including services – can be deployed for best outcome. Of particular interest is the Technical Account Manager (TAM) services that customers can purchase. Each TAM engagement includes up to one business day of service per week, delivered by a VMware Technical Account Manager, for a 12 month period.

Engaging at multiple levels with a blended team

We initially explored VMware’s consulting and education services as part of our storage hypervisor study. While storage consulting is not called out separately, it is part of or the entire scope of a consulting assignment, depending on customer requirements. The company works with customer contacts across a broad spectrum, from CIOs to VP of IT and IT infrastructure to Directors, though arguably its consultants most frequently engage with the Datacenter owners or owners of IT infrastructure. VMware is also proud of its 1,600 consulting and technology partners who represent an important part of resources available to customers.

A continuing challenge in any complex infrastructure production environment is the expanding scope of assets that need management. VMware has boosted its arsenal of tools and adjacent technologies through a series of acquisitions, including NeoAccel, maker of SSL VPNs, WaveMaker, open source graphical programming tools for non-developers to create Web apps, SlideRocket, an online presentation service, Shavlik Technologies, its management and security product now renamed as vCenter Protect Essentials Plus,  Socialcast, the collaboration and social networking vendor, Digital Fuel Technologies, publisher of tools to measure infrastructure and apps costs, PacketMotion, maker of database and virtual machine activity monitoring. We expect its consulting and education resources will be busy as existing customers explore relevance of these acquired technology, and customers that came with these acquisitions familiarise themselves with the core VMware portfolio.

Image credit: Oyonnax Revisited by Tampen

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