VMware uses its right to bear arms!

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Waaw … I hoped I would never have to write this post. Earlier this week I noticed someone tweeting they missed Nutanix as a sponsor at  VMware’s annual Partner Exchange (PEX) in San Francisco, California. Going through the list of partners on the PEX website I found that there were a few of my loved ones missing. So I asked them how that comes as they have been VMware fans and best friends as long as I can remember. I just couldn’t imagine that they would turn their backs on the partner that helped them become who they are today.

As I follow these kind of evolutions closely I started digging left and right at these companies. I just hoped it wasn’t true. But it was. Nutanix and Veeam, two of my very favourite VMware Partners were both asked to withhold their activities at PEX. Apparently someone at CRN got hold of my poking and wrote the story here. I can only say that I was not the source of the article.

TP Bear Arms preview display

Thanks but no thanks!

When Maish Saidel-Keesing wrote “Is VMware starting a Turf War with it’s partners” as a reaction on VMware extending their product features & portfolio I defended VMware’s growth strategy as I believe you just can’t want to own everything and there would always be best-of-breed partners in the ecosystem. I still stand by what I said there but apparently VMware doesn’t agree with me and decided to use their right to bear arms. Let me tell you what is happening here in my words and my own opinion. This time they can seem somewhat emotional, that’s probably because I am!

NUTANIX

No question that Nutanix at this point is the most successful vendor in the converged infrastructure space. Not only do they come in this blog on a regular base, they also have a very big community support and even managed to have at least 5 VCDX’s amongst their ranks. No need to tell you how important VMware is as a partner for these guys. That being said Nuntanix are not hiding the fact that the hypervisor as such is becoming commodity. This video for example shows how easy you can switch from a Hyper-V to ESXi installation (and probably other way around as well). Is this enough to piss off VMware? Is it maybe that customers/partners truly start to believe that you can run a small sized Google/Facebook datacenter without the need of an (EMC) SAN? Or does VMware truly think VSAN is the only best-of-breed going forward with HyperConvergence?

So why Nutanix? Simple: because they are the BEST-OF-BREED in the HyperConverged infrastructure and there is simply no way to compete from VMware’s point. One could use the argument that Nutanix is an appliance based model and VMware VSAN is a software only model. This is not entirely true: VMware VSAN will have a (very) limited Hardware Compatibility List anyhow. Nutanix has the same, only today their Hardware Compatibility List is limited to the models they sell and configure themselves. NOTHING stops Nutanix to sell the software tomorrow and opening the same type HCL based on HP, DELL, Cisco UCS, … At that moment we will have two exactly the same product types of which Nutanix will be by far the better solution.

VMware doesn’t have to fear SimpliVity as they have a hardware offload model with a custom designed PCIe+FPGA card and do not have enough market share to be dangerous (today). Pivot3 is just too young to be a true competitor and Scale Computing have put themselves out of the market by leaving the VMware community entirely.

VEEAM

VMware is pushing their second try at a data protection product (prev. VCB) but it is hardly production ready. The former products were merely “good enough” for lab environments but this one has a different goal: starting a conversation about EMC Datadomain. If you have the time, listen to the VMware community podcast of last november with Jeff Hunter (Technical Marketing VDPa) and question what the end goal of that product is. But is that really necessary to push away one of your biggest partners? Have you forgotten Veeam has been the first company to claim everyone can go 100% virtualized for more than 5 years now?

So why Veeam? Simple: because they are the BEST-OF-BREED in the Virtualization Data Protection and there is simply no way to compete from VMware’s point. Veeam not just has a head-start, they have been ahead of the pack in all aspects of the technology and have gained a tremendous market share (+85.000 customers).

VMware doesn’t fear Symantec as they are still recovering from the last two years of F-ups, everyone in the field is still afraid of touching a Commvault installation and Unitrends/PHDvirtual don’t have the market share to make it hard for VMware. Other incumbents are hardly worth mentioning in the virtualization data protection and definitely no threat to VMware’s business.

Summary

You probably noticed I used twice “there is simply no way to compete from VMware’s point”. And this is exactly the reason why Veeam and Nutanix are not at PEX. VMware has made their investments in VSAN and VDPa and want to see those investments bring in the money. PEX is the place where partner strategies for the coming year are carved in stone. VMware fears that by having these partners onsite there would be less stones to carve for them. Now that Veeam and Nutanix have to limit their activities outside of Moscone they can only have these conversations with existing partners they are able to invite.

To everyone else still on the showfloor next week: you are merely there because VMware tolerates you and thinks you are no threat to their business.

sidenote: this has been done by Microsoft in the past as well

Personal point

I am a VMware vExpert and in general a vFanboy. I listen to the podcasts, go to as many VMUGs as possible, am horribly upset if I can’t make it to VMworld or Partner Exchange in person. But this? I will praise wherever possible but heckle where necessary. I’m sure you didn’t piss off me alone. I’m just someone that calls it out. Did they really think this could happen unseen? I sincerely hope VMware get’s its act together by the time VMworld is around the corner!

Until now I have restrained myself of being the ex-Veeam-evangelist as much as possible in public. And I think I did a fair job at that. This story might have pushed me to do an “honest” implementation series on VDP(a). At least as honest as Mike Laverick’s series on Hyper-V.

May I encourage the community to rise up and share the feeling of disgust? You can do that by commenting below, writing your own blogpost, or if you are at PEX and want to do something funny, take a selfie with a Veeam/Nutanix shirt and your saddest face.

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24 comments

    1. I think this actually is playing reverse-favourite and with that insulting to partners that *are* invited and flattering for partners not attending. So for Veeam and Nutanix, it’s a confirmation of their position, strength and maybe even a threat to VMware.

  1. First, well crafted Hans. I’m sure this took significant effort to overcome a purely emotional reaction! Look for Veeam t-shirt wearing selfies, love the idea! Just wish I had some Nutanix shirts to help spread the love…

    1. It’s still pretty emotional. And it’s still just my thoughts and opinion as far as there is public knowledge. So far VMware remains silent on the true reasons and I’m not sure if and when they will elaborate. The future will tell.

  2. Well written, Hans. When options and choices are limited, customers will start looking elsewhere for answers. I hope that this move reversed in time for VMworld and they return to a more open stance with their partners. I was disappointed when they excluded Citrix and MS a few years ago, and am concerned that they might move to restrict KVM, CloudStack and OpenStack in the future.

    1. Yes, other than the fact that these two vendors have been asked to back down at the biggest VMware ecosystem partner event of the year, everything else is emotional & personal thoughts and opinions. I thought I stated that very clear upfront.

      That being said, the fact that this happened is very important and the whole community has at least the right to ask questions. Let me elaborate with a real life story: when I worked as Solutions lead for a VAR we were making a strategic design for a flexible private cloud architecture. This was completely based on DELL equipment, the choice between Hyper-V or VMware and Veeam for data protection. This was a plan to be marketed together with DELL. Guess what happened the day DELL bought AppAssure? I had to go back to the drawing board as there was no way DELL was going to do long term strategy plans based on the fact that Veeam was in the solution.

      I’ve been approached that “this will all become clear later“, “not all reasons are obvious” and by occasion being accused for “populistic chatter“. At least no one has called me a liar yet. And I am totally OK with that. As long as everyone else is OK that the community has the right to be concerned. It’s our jobs as well! These type of happenings are very serious and historically have shown to have impact on the industry. So I encourage anyone entitled to at Nutanix, Veeam, VMware and probably by extent EMC, to make these rumours go away as soon as possible.

      1. “has at least the right to ask questions.”

        I’m not suggesting you shouldn’t ask questions. But why wouldn’t you ask the relevant parties for comment BEFORE writing the article? Certainly you have marketing/communications contacts at nutanix and VMware and veamm (or can find them)?

        1. Maybe I did? Maybe they said not to comment in public? Maybe that’s the reason I can only share my personal thoughts and opinion and hope that someone understands the importance of an event like this for more professionals rather than the companies involved?

          Furthermore in all openness I first expected the story to be a lot bigger and decided NOT to write anything at all when that was not the case. If you look close at the CRN article you’ll see even more speculation that never should have been written at all. I decided to share my thoughts anyhow because the information is now publically available. I repeat that I had no hand what so ever in that. Everyone that knows me slighy better knows that I will always respect my sources.

              1. I did, because you weren’t clear….you said maybe you did 🙂

                So you asked and were told that they could not comment? Thats interesting information all by itself.

        2. Matt, I’m assuming he’s had PLENTY of communication with both parties (I have). At the same time there is Zero I’ve been given on the record other than “we will not have a presence”. VMware’s too big of a fish for either of them to pick a fight, and ultimately it has to be their customers, and partners to put pressure on them. I’ve heard two rumors. 1. they were told they couldn’t have a booth. 2. They could be a gold partner and have a very small presence.

          Either way, without VMware giving some public admission for why they are doing this, it looks REALLY bad in the channel. Should we be looking to abandon our storage partnerships with [non-emc vendor]. Technically VMware has a security company (RSA). Should we be prepared to dump other authentication vendors? Honestly at this point they’ve thrown a hand grenade into the channel. Sales is asking me who’s next on their target list so we don’t get caught on the wrong side of it, and the technical staff is groaning at having to learn a new (non-best of breed) product. As it stands now, Its VMware’s turn, not Veeam or Nutanix to explain themselves. Microsoft is suddenly looking like the partner friendly company and thats just sad.

      2. Disclosure – EMCer here.
        Hans, while it’s possible, trust me (and you know me) AFAIK, this has zilch to do w EMC. People don’t internalize (but it’s accurate), we have zero (ZERO!) input or sway on this sort of thing – and frankly that’s right. VMware’s autonomy is real. It has been, and it is today.

        On a personal note, I suspect that there are things that are not known here (know how much the ecosystem is built into VMware’s NDA).

        I strongly suspect there’s another side of the story.

        1. Hi Chad,

          Much appreciate you take the time to chime in and give your 2 cents. I know you are supposed to stay away of these kind of conversations. Yes, there are absolutely things that are not known. I have been contacted off-line to assure me that I have it all wrong especially that this would not entirely be a unidirectional play.

          When going through the comments here you’ll notice I had a hard time deciding whether or not to actually write about it. The reasons in the end that I did it are:

          • The story was already out, which I sincerely regret as there are people who used to trust me that probably don’t anymore. The comments I already had were in the nature of “you should have been more careful with your sources”. You know very well that stings for me as the sources were mostly at C-level.
          • More importantly I truly believe that partners at all levels have the right to know what happens here. These events are not just bumps in the road. Something is really off when major partners get refused at a partner event. There is a lot of money to be made and more specifically to be lost not knowing what is going on.

          Sidenote: one can hardly argue that VDPa is NOT an EMC/Avamar product 😛

          1. I would disagree with that statement “VDPa is an EMC product”. VDPa is a VMware product, that VMware chose to use some Avamar and DD IP.

            It’s analogous to an OEM, like vCenter heartbeat. In fact, I would wager there is more VMware-developed code than the vCenter Heartbeat comparison.

            Regardless – my point was that however this happened, and whatever the drivers, which – who knows? – may be different in both examples…. EMC had nothing to do with this decision (so I hope people don’t infer that)

            I was as surprised as anyone. I get the head scratching (I share it a little), but I trust VMware and trust they must have some solid reasons.

  3. I just thought Veeam and Nutanix were refused to be Gold Sponsors? Not refused to be present at PEX?

    Hans, do you have any information on this?

    If this is true, why did Nutanix and Veeam choose not to go?

    I think you nail it pretty good why they don’t want Veeam and Nutanix to steal the attention. VMware will probably try to push vsan and vdp advanced aggresively this year.

    1. Even if the official communication would be “not to steal the attention” that is exactly the same as a rejection. It’s just to make it politically correct and leaving the decision to the partners.

      Bottomline: 2 top partners are not at the second most important conference in this eco-system due to some kind of disagreement. Customers and partners deserve the right to know what is going on here.

  4. Quite disgusting really….

    One of the biggest things I like(d) about VMware was their, atleast apparent, active support of the thriving community.

    I’ve used a plethora of partner tools and VMware in house solutions and it’s the mix of those that is really the power of the platform.

    I’ve used Veeam and Nutanix in production and both are great.

    For shame, VMware, For shame!

    1. I’m kind of known for exaggerating emotion, getting lost in translation or bluntly having a lack of any level of empathy from time to time. In that perspective ‘disgust’ was probably not my best choice of words.

      I’m absolutely positive that there are strategic decisions that justify these events. No matter what they are, I am sure there are a lot of people that will regret them. Veeam for example has today over 90.000 customer with more than 75% being VMware based. For these people and not to forget for the resellers ecosystem in between it is pretty important that the true reasons are clear rather soon than late.

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