TORONTO – The much publicized appointment of Eric Gales by VMware last fall was the first step in the company’s acceptance and transition to a full Canadian-engagement model.
Up until Gales accepted the job of country manager of VMware Canada, the organization ran Canada as a segment of the U.S. sales arm. Gales told CDN that this model worked tremendously well and the VMware grew for the most part organically throughout the country.
But to take it to the next level in especially with VMware expanding its portfolio beyond virtualization and into the cloud and software-defined data centres the Canada had to operate on its own with its own mandates and responsibilities.
CDN recently sat down with Gales to talk about this transition, along with his exit from Microsoft Canada and how he is re-vamping the channel strategy to open up more opportunities for the company, its customers and solution providers.
The following is an edited transcript.
CDN Now: Why did you exit Microsoft Canada?
Eric Gales: Essentially it was about timing. They say timing is everything. My family and I made a decision that we were going to stay in Canada. I took the summer off and went to the Olympics in London and shortly after that I started having conversations with VMware and I did not anticipate going to another big, multi-national company. I talked to the executives here and met with the COO Carl Eschenbach and it was too good an opportunity to pass up. It was a chance to build something new in Canada especially with VMware’s cloud and mobility solutions. It was more a function of timing. We were keen on staying in Canada and I am grateful for Microsoft to bring me to Canada.
CDN Now: How do you begin to promote VMware Hypervisor in the marketplace after years saying that Microsoft’s Hyper-V was better?
E.G.: Well, that was my job. Having moved to the other side of the fence I got a chance to spend a lot of time with the company and I now fully understand their strategy. You know a few things happen when you venture out of the Microsoft bubble. Things look differently! VMware has a different culture and the difference is the hypervisor is one component to much bigger story for the data centre. It’s what differentiates us from the other alternatives. Hypervisor is one component to a much bigger story. It’s my job to tell that story. The strategy is evolving and we now have an end user computing story, a mobility story and we are not obsessed with managing the end point all the time.
CDN Now: When you looked at VMware’s channel business what were your first impressions?
E.G.: I felt that it needed to mature in a way. The way VMware operated we were lucky to enjoy a huge amount of growth and it generated a lot of energy, profits, and services revenues for channel partners. As the portfolio evolved, there is a need to mature in the way we engage with partners. I have always been a proponent of clarity and enablement. That’s a big focus for the company right now and we are trying to evolve that with what we want to do with customers. I spent time a lot of time with partners to get to know them, see where they fit, where we play well in, and areas of improvement. I have been working with Frank Rauch (vice president, Americas Partner Organization for VMware) in our North American strategy to see how we can evolve the channel programs and build a resource model that can support the potential with partners in three areas: software defined data centres, hybrid clouds and mobility.
CDN Now: With the exit of Jas Sahota, you are without a Canadian channel chief. What’s the timeline for replacing him?
E.G.: I’m looking at how we evolve the role. I see an opportunity working with Frank Rauch to define the role and what that person has to do in terms of the size of the geography, where we have resources. I am reviewing this with Frank Rauch and I think it will evolve over time. For now what’s top of mind is we are looking to evolve the channel organization and bring more partners with us.
CDN Now: Do you see more channel consolidation in Canada? How will that impact your plans?
E.G.: Yes. It’s inevitable and I see it every day. There is some consolidation for expanding into a new geography. There is some consolidation for acquiring new skills and we have to be alive to that possible and make sure the channel strategy has enough coverage. We have to expect that consolidation will happen over time. We see changes with our largest partners. It’s the nature of the industry. It’s predicated with change and I do not see this necessarily as a negative or a positive. It’s just a reality of the business.
CDN Now: VMware is in transition. How is that playing out in Canada?
E.G.: We have a huge opportunity to leverage the installed base we have. The interesting thing is they have a high standard and generally the customer has a relationship with channel. There are several benefits with the potential in what we are doing with software-defined data centres. It’s going to save them more on capital investments. It will be more flexible for the customer. It’s enormous. Every time I have met with a CIO in the last six months they have expressed interest and it has led to a second conversation. That indicates there is a huge potential for the customer and the channel partner. We are lucky to have a huge installed base and the software-defined data centre is also on the end user compute side. CIOs see the value proposition for data and apps. With Horizon it gives us that value proposition and there is an enormous amount of interested right now and that means huge upside for the partners who understand this value proposition and can tell the story; bring it to life with customers. That’s my job right now. To help them realize that and lineup that story for customer and partners.