FALL 2017 | CompTIAWorld 59 with the fact that most customers are living in a digital world. They have a digital strategy and much of their company—their processes and their systems—are based on digital infrastructure and digital applications that have to be running. Customers are also becoming more sensitive to the impact of outages due to security breaches. We think of security breaches as just a breach. Well, in fact, it’s a type of outage. Not only is the infrastructure and the applications out, but there’s brand tarnishing that happens when those security violations occur. Q: How much of a conversation is ransomware with your customer and partner base? A: I think it is a big issue. We’re seeing a trend of it becoming more of an issue and not less of an issue. For example, we’re working with a large global financial services firm on not just a backup system, but a tertiary system. They have a production system and a backup system, of course. But, what they recognized is that when there’s a security breach and data is impacted and contaminated, not only was their production site vulnerable, but their backup site was vulnerable. So, they needed a solution that provided tertiary backup that had the data isolated so it wasn’t vulnerable to the same kind of data contamination that their backup site was. When you start getting into not just backup, but tertiary backup, it tells you what threat is out there. Microsoft Partners Look to the Cloud Microsoft’s Gavriella Schuster, general manager of worldwide partner programs, describes how partners are transitioning into Microsoft’s cloud solutions provider (CSP) program and what characteristics the most successful partners possess. Q: How do you see partners evolving to address the cloud services opportunity at this point? A: We’ve seen many partners taking advantage of this opportunity. In fact, 48 percent of our partners have already adapted their business models to offer project services, managed services and IT services in the cloud. And, I’ve heard from many more partners who are in the process of making this transition and who we’re assisting as they make it. Q: How far along in the cloud solution provider program path do you think you are? A: The cloud solution provider option is really a business model that allows our partners to manage the customer from end to end through whatever sales model they choose—whether they’re deciding to manage that relationship directly or indirectly utilizing some other partnerships like a distributor. Our channel has really gravitated to this new license model that is tailor-fit to support the modern business partner. We now have more than 10,000 partners transacting in the cloud solution provider business model, which is certainly higher than we had anticipated in the first mainstream year. Q: Has a profile emerged of the partner who has been the most successful at implementing the programs and services that you have been offering? GS: The core of our most successful partners is always thinking about the customer lifetime value they’re going to deliver. They’re thinking about how they are going to add value to that customer relationship day in and day out. And, they’re moving their own set of services away from an up-front payment or a pay-for-service-as-you-go kind of relationship into more of a subscription model. VMware Explains How Software Unlocks the World VMware’s Ross Brown, vice president of Worldwide Partners and Alliances, offers up his perspective as partners leverage APIs, cloud and virtualization to unlock the full value of technology for customers. Q: We’ve heard the term software eats the world. But you offer up a different viewpoint—saying that software unlocks the world. What does that mean? A: The term software eats the world is a fear-driven and opportunistic statement here in the valley. It’s the notion that industries that have had traditional barriers to entry and traditional asset-based strategies are being disrupted. We, however, see it as an opportunity on the software side. Ever since the beginning in virtualization, we’ve been freeing operating systems and applications up from being bound to a given machine. It’s the philosophy of using software to unlock what was originally designed as a fixed structure asset—meaning it was built for a purpose, like running SAP or your mail system— and freeing it up. Q: How do you see the transformation of partners happening in the next five years? A: What I’m increasingly hearing is more and more partners moving from this notion of configure and install as their primary value. It’s taking that thought and moving it to the software side. Which is more about: How do I leverage the APIs and the cloud services and really build a federated experience across public services? That’s where I see a lot of folks moving. Q: Is that shift in mindset being driven by customer needs? A: To a certain extent it is being driven by customers. But I think customers are having a hard time connecting their desired outcomes with articulation to partners. There aren’t a lot of roadmaps here. Now, what has happened is the tooling has gotten a lot better. If you go back ten years, the number of Web services that had open APIs that were well-documented was rare. Now, services are listed right up there with about-our- product benefits and the next one is integrate with us. I think the learning curve has come way down, the tooling has gone way up and the needed customers has gone through the roof—and that’s the confluence that typically drives any sort of change in the channel.