February London VMUG and March Rimmary

Time flies when you’re having fun says the old adage….. or in my case, as I’ve not posted since last December, when you’ve been plagued by flu and colds 🙁 Poor excuse for not posting, but by the time I’ve done the horses, walked the dogs, checked email and then started work for my clients, I’m exhausted!

I did have a ‘window’ of not being too poorly to attend the first London VMUG of the year in early February. The agenda was a good one, with a very interesting plenary session by Ed Hoppitt of VMware.

My key takeaway from Ed’s presentation was VMware really is now a single platform to run all things – hence his hashtag #RunAllThings – irrespective of the workload. Prior to Ed was the gold sponsor Nexenta. I’ve known about them for a very long time, but never sat in on one of their presos. Their technical presenter was very good despite English not being his native language – which he apologised for many times and really didn’t need to! Key takeaway was they have a 10 TB community version for homelabbers that can be accessed here.

With the North East VMUG holding their meeting the same day, there was a little Twitter banter going on, starting with the chair’s pic of the Geordie Shore crew:

A justifiable retort 🙂

The next session I attended was Matt Evans’ WorkspaceONE presentation that focused on Windows 10 management. My final session was Igel Technology who presented some great real world use cases and conducted a live demo – kudos! I had to leave so missed Dave Ruddle presenting on blockchain, which is a shame as wanted to learn more about Gospel, his new company. Haven’t seen Dave for a while when one of his previous companies (Nimble) was sponsoring London VMUG.

I also missed the live announcement of the UK VMUG event date, but saw it on Twitter, mark your diaries now folks!

 

February melded into March and here we are starting off the event silly season! Which events are you attending? I’ve got the following in my diary

  • Citrix User Group, March 20, Manchester
  • Cloud Expo, March 12-13, ExCeL London

In contrast, I’m doing some PR work for some industry friends regarding the results of a survey they recently conducted in the high tech industry. Some fascinating results that will be made public soon. Suffice it to say, our industry does not make the most of its most expensive asset – their workforce!

Next up in my community activities is a team call with other board members and consultants of WhatMatrix, there’s been some exciting developments with the platform and new categories planned, so looking forward to catching up with everyone soon!

Finally, I’m getting more engrossed with Liquidware’s corporate and local activities due to their success and expansion. So, am looking forward to March, and, despite having a mini heatwave in the UK in February, the dull start of March is great for not being distracted by going out horse riding but knuckling down and focusing on my clients.

Have a good March everyone!

Exciting new addition to hiviz-marketing client list

I am very excited to announce that iboss has chosen to work with hiviz-marketing to support their EMEA expansion.

iboss is an established cloud based cyber security company in the North American region, that is redefining the way in which cyber security is delivered and managed. Their Secure Cloud Gateway delivers for today’s decentralized world and is the only visionary in Gartner’s 2017 Secure Web Gateway Magic Quadrant.

With over 85% of the current industry using appliance-based web gateways, iboss’ architecture is fundamentally different in that cloud nodes can be deployed anywhere (public or private) providing path to cloud and totally focused on securing the user without the burden of appliance management. They have a powerful IP portfolio with over 100 patents and was founded in 2003 by entrepreneurs Paul and Peter Martini.

They’ve recently recruited a couple of ex-VMware folks, namely Ted Ranft and Craig Talbot to head up global and EMEA sales respectively and have engaged with me to create awareness and ‘air cover’ to assist their GTM in EMEA. To date they’ve had a strong business here in the education sector, but the strategy now will extend to the mid-market and enterprise commercial sector.

Not only do they have very cool technology, they are working with some very large organizations, such as Microsoft, to deliver protection for corporate data through public cloud integration.

So, if you’re looking for an alternative to traditional security that will protect your users wherever they roam, provide them the best experience when accessing the cloud and reduce your management and procurement costs, please take a look at iboss!

Nutanix’s acquisition of Frame

Well, this news lit up my Twitter feed late last night/early this morning. From a technology perspective, I think this is a good move by Nutanix – it will, however, be interesting to see how the Street reacts when it wakes up in a few hours. While the news hit my attention, what grabbed it more was the commentary by a certain exec at VMware.

A few years, after an acquisition that VMware made, an individual that came over in that acquisition started to use Twitter as a platform to convey his rather inflammatory opinion about the competition. I was always surprised that VMware allowed this level of derogatory remarks to other industry players – and indeed people too – but he was just branded a bit of a renegade and maverick. He wasn’t super high up in the food chain and has, subsequently, left but I was always mystified as to how a publicly listed company allowed employees to express such venomous views. He is now a CEO of a small start up and he has certainly ‘toned down’ his tweets!

Certain employees of Nutanix are well known for being bolshy and posting controversial social media messages, but I’ve never witnessed its leader, Dheeraj Pandey being anything other than business like and to the point. Therefore, I was impressed by his composure on Twitter earlier in response to Sanjay Poonen’s tweets…… Why do executives of publicly listed companies lower themselves to ‘tit for tatting’ spat tweets? Why? It’s just not necessary, it’s not professional and it’s not acceptable in my view.

I always advise to take the high ground, don’t stoop to others’ levels of unprofessionalism – don’t be a keyboard warrior, if you wouldn’t say it to their face, don’t put it out on social media. This really is social media 101 and to those that infringe it, you make me cringe every time I read your tweets, so please, please grow up and stop throwing stones in the playground!

 

 

New Year Kicks off! New Projects, New Book, New Awards

January has gone as quickly as it arrived after the Christmas break! I’ve just had an analyst call and wished him a belated Happy New Year and it occurred to me that I only had time  in January to write one post. So this post is a summary of the last 6 weeks since beginning of January.

January saw the first London VMUG of 2017 being held. Many posts have already been written on the success of the day but it was a great event and a pleasure to attend as an attendee instead of committee member 🙂 I attended the Cohesity session and Alex Galbraith and Chris Porter’s AWS community presentation. Alex and Chris’ slidedeck can be found here, highly recommended taking a look. It was also good to catch up with many long time VMUG attendees and supporters; Ricky el Qasem (who’s double session received tremendous feedback), Alex, Chris, Sam MacGeown, Amit Panchal, Gareth Edwards, the committee of Simon Gallagher, Chris Dearden, Dave Simpson and Linda Smith, plus many more! I also had the pleasure of meeting with Stanimir Markov from Runecast for the first time. Runecast has been making quite a name for itself in the VMware community and will be sponsoring the April London VMUG. More about those guys at the end of this post 😉 It was great to see the committee continue with the community awards and it was fab to see Alex, Ricky and all the Opentechcast crew receive recognition of their contribution to London VMUG for 2016.

I’ve also been working with the WhatMatrix team on plans for the future development of the platform from a marketing perspective. I’ve also submitted them for an award in a datacenter innovation category. Once the finalists are announced, and I’m hoping WhatMatrix be one, voting will start, so I shall be canvassing you all for your votes, fingers crossed!

I am also pleased to announce I will be a judge in the newly launched Tech PR Star Awards, launched by my good friend and industry colleague, Rose Ross, of Tech Trailblazers fame.

Another project I’m involved in has been copy-proofing a very exciting new book – obviously not from the technical aspect, it’s already been peer-reviewed before it gets to me! But just ensuring it’s all proper English, like! I’m not mentioning authors or the book at this time as it’s pretty much under wraps but am excited to be involved, even if in a very small way.

I’ve also been asked by TECHunplugged team to help them secure sponsors for their 2017 events, so any vendors reading this, if you want to sponsor this very unique format event, just let me know!

Finally, two awesome things have topped off today for me personally. One, I’ve been awarded vExpert for the 7th year running; you can read the full list here. And two, I am very pleased to announce that I just signed a new client, Runecast! I believe their solution to be a totally relevant “must have” for any VMware vSphere estate and I’m looking forward to working with the team. As Stan is a VCDX and other team members are fellow vExperts, I might also learn something along the way 🙂

 

Whew, I’m exhausted just writing about what I’m currently involved in but am super excited for what the coming months will bring for me and hiviz-marketing and our involvement in these many fab initiatives. Stay tuned!!

GTM via a Channel – Insights for Startups

In a meeting with a startup this week, we discussed the EMEA channel and it got me thinking about what startups should consider when entering a market via the channel and compelled me to write this post.

I’ve always worked for, and with, companies that go to market 100% via a channel. For startups, in particular, a leveraged sales model via a channel (whether single or two tier) is the most effective and expedient way to enter a new market and scale at speed. I’ve always applied the same thinking to channel marketing; leverage your marketing dollars by co-marketing with your engaged channel partners too. However, there are many caveats to that, especially in today’s vendor saturated market. No longer can you just take a product message to either distributors’ target resellers or resellers’ target customers. Solutions that deliver upon customers’ business challenges will garner greater interest versus just a technology message. And, of course, vendor channel programs – margins, rebates, MDF, etc. – need to appeal to resellers as much as the technology before they’ll consider adding you to their portfolio.

Vendors entering a market seriously need to consider whether to implement a single or two tier distribution strategy. The days of true value-add distribution are long gone, mainly due to acquisition and consolidation of distributors. If your product/s is/are run rate and mainstream, then two-tier can make sense. If, however, you’re focused on the enterprise, with a long sales cycle, there are typically far fewer resellers to target. Why, in this scenario, would you engage with a distributor, when you can sign resellers direct and provide a higher margin return for both them and you? One could argue that distribution protects vendors from bad debt risk and provide an operational service. But you can get factoring organisations to conduct this role for less than you have to provide in margin to distribution. Vendors really do need to investigate this alternative in my opinion. However, distribution certainly continues to play a key role for many vendors. The large distributors, at least not in the UK, do not, in my experience, best serve startups that require focus – and that don’t have $100K upfront for a funded head. However, some of these larger distributors do have some exceptional product managers, who are used to bringing new technology to market and continue to have a startup ‘mindset’. These product managers do a sterling job in many instances of grasping how the technology fits into their overall portfolio ‘stack’ and can take the combined message out to the reseller channel. These individuals tend to have their background and heritage in the former VAD that has, ultimately, been acquired. Unfortunately, these are very few and far between.

Most, if not all, the companies I have worked for and with have created demand and sold directly to the customer, with fulfilment via the channel. Depending upon how much ‘skin in the game’ the channel has put, should depend upon their return – blanket discounts just don’t create the right sort of behaviour any longer. Back-end rebates work well to drive the right behaviour by paying for specific KPIs or deliverables. Marketing should always play a part – preferably larger than smaller – of these back-end rebates. For companies that provide a % of revenue for MDF, the control and management of these funds is of paramount importance to the success of implementing these funds. I have seen distributors take the accrued marketing dollars to the bottom line as they’ve ‘expired’ and accounting will not let them utilise the funds due to their financial practices/controls. In an ideal world, channel marketing will work with the vendor channel manager and the distribution/reseller marketing manager to implement a quarterly plan to utilise the funds. The opposite extreme of this is where large vendors expect a plan to be put in place 6 months in advance, which really can only consist of ‘placeholder’ activity that far in advance. The key is to drive utilisation but maintain a level of flexibility – all whilst operating within financial and corporate governance guidelines!

There are still a few VADs out there that continue to help vendors create a market, they’re just harder to find and more selective about whom they add to their portfolio. Remember, for them, investing in you as a start up is a risk – they will invest in your technology with sales and technical support and will spend marketing funds on creating awareness and demand. Then what happens? You get acquired before they’ve had a chance to get a real return on their investment and the acquiring company already has one of the large distributors and so you terminate your VAD, leaving a bad taste in the their mouth.

As with any go to market strategy, you need to identify your key goals and what type of partners will best serve and deliver upon those goals. I am still convinced that a channel GTM strategy will deliver in most cases, it’s just whether your choose single or two tier that will remain a key question for you.