VMware resellers and systems integrators are getting an opportunity to make up to an additional 15 per cent on software sales.

The Palo Alto, Calif.-based firm this week launched the VMware Authorized Consulting (VAC) Partner program, which enables new and existing VARs to sell certified consulting

services in addition to products.

Under the program, partners can deliver five pre-packaged consulting engagements including:

-VirtualCenter Jumpstart, which helps customers understand and utilize the capabilities of VirtualCenter;

-ESX Server Jumpstart, in which consultants work with customers to install and configure the virtual machine platform;

-Physical to Virtual Migrations, in which partners help customers consolidate servers or migrate legacy applications.

They also have access to online educational resources and forums such as Webinars at VMware Channel Connect. To qualify, partners need to have VMware certified professionals, be trained in ESX, and meet with company consultants to learn how to deliver physical to virtual migrations.

VAC was created to address customer demand for consulting services. John Krystynak, VAC program manager, said the strategy behind the program is to leverage the channel instead of building a large services organization. VMware currently employs 30 full- time professional services employees world wide to deliver education and consulting.

“”We’re focusing on being channel-friendly by opening up our services that (resellers) can deliver and can increase their margin,”” said Krystynak. “”They’re involved with VMware on any deal whether they’re selling software or doing services.””

In a software-only deal, resellers typically make anywhere between 12 to 20 per cent margins, whereas a service engagement ranges from 25 to 35 per cent, according to Krystynak.

“”While most people have been happy to sell VMware, they’ve wanted to deliver services. Almost every deal that we sell that has a dollar value over US $40,000 has some services associated with it.””

Krystynak, who is responsible for recruiting VAC partners, says four have already signed up in, Canada including Gibraltar Solutions Inc. and ThinApse Corp. Currently, 70 per cent are resellers with the remaining group is comprised of independent integrators or consulting organizations. Krystynak plans to recruit another 30 to 40 partners by the end of the year.

Robert Tooth, vice-president of access infrastructure solutions for Mississauga, Ont.-based Gibraltar Solutions, which focuses on professional services, said it was delighted when invited to become a member of the VAC program a month ago.

“”It’s a way for a relatively smaller software organization like VMware with a limited consulting resource to deliver on the promise of virtualization to the customers,”” he said. “”It will be interesting to see how this develops as the technology matures and the market acceptance of the technology matures.””

Steve Holloway, vice-president of business development for Vancouver-based systems integrator ThinApse, which specializes in infrastructure-related technologies and has been a VMware partner for three years, said the VAC program is terrific.

“”We get access to best practices and the experience that the VMware professional services organization has gained. We get to leverage that experience for our customers. There’s also a quality assurance component to ensure that we’re certified, we’re educated, we’re leveraging material that’s been utilized before and then they follow up on our work.””

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