Earlier in the week, I had the opportunity to attend one of VMware's partner events. The event was held in Orlando, a short drive away from my office. Stratus had invited me to present a paper at the event. I really enjoyed speaking with my hosts and learned a great deal about what they're doing today to create environments that are, as they say, "continuously available."
While at the event, I had the opportunity to speak with a good number of representatives of VMware partners. Here's a quick summary of what I heard:
- Sales cycles have lengthened, but individual sales often were larger and included longer term relationships.
- Customers are looking for ways to cut costs at almost any cost. While this means that, at times, customers are doing something to achieve short term savings that will, in all likelihood, mean long term pain, they see this as a matter of survival. Saving money now will mean little if the organization fails in the short term.
- Server consolidation was were some customers began their journey to virtualize their industry standard system-based environments, but after having some level of success there, they often started examining other areas, such as access virtualization, application virtualization, storage virtualization and network virtualization.
- Some thought that desktop virtualization was the next area that would be of interest to their customers. (I would pose that integrating the complete environment and making it secure and manageable might be a nearer term goal.)
- The drive to produce real, measurable cost reduction has also forced organizations to begin to break down the walls between silos. I was told that company politics often cost customers a great deal of money, reduced their ability to be agile and resulted in islands of computing that, in the past, were hard to integrate.
- VMware's partners love virtualization because it allows them to stand out in competitive situations. VMware's software often drags through other products and service offerings. Depending upon the partner I pestered, oops, I mean chatted with, that multiple might have been 10 to 1, 15 to 1 and in one case nearly 20 to 1. What does that mean? The partner may have sold $10 worth of products and services for each $1 of VMware software that they sold.
While at Citrix's event a while ago, I heard similar things from their partners.
When I asked how the partner's customers thought about developing an overall architecture that would encompass a broad array of technologies and then purchasing technology to fit into that architecture, some looked at me strangely. I guess short term thinking is winning out in the mid market. They're too frightened of the economic situation to think too far into an unknowable future.
I'm reminded of something that Alan Lakein said, "Failing to plan is planning to fail."