Virtualisation view

Network Middle East chats to Stéphane Antona, VMware’s regional marketing manager for Southern EMEA about virtualisation adoption in the region

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Virtualisation view VMware’s regional marketing manager for Southern EMEA says there is now no reason not to virtualise.
By  Mark Sutton Published  April 21, 2012

Network Middle East chats to Stéphane Antona, VMware’s regional marketing manager for Southern EMEA about virtualisation adoption in the region.

Network Middle East: VMware has been expanding in the region, what are your plans for the Middle East?
Stéphane Antona: I have been with the company for eight years, you can see the story of how VMware grows in a country repeating in different countries. At the beginning we grow with EMC, because we need to have an infrastructure in place. When the size of the company is critical, we become a legal entity, we are move into our own building, this is the case in a lot of countries in Europe, when we have the critical mass that we have to be our own entity. We are still a subsidiary of EMC of course, we work very closely with them, but at the same time we are independent and work with other software and hardware vendors.

We have been in the Middle East for more than five years, and we are coming to a period where it is an emerging market, with a lot of potential, we can see the IT spending, there is a lot of need from customers, and we are now working in different areas. When we are in a country in the beginning, mainly we see big deals that are managed by OEMs, because OEMs are really strong in the country, without having a strong VMware presence, you have big data centre deals. Then when we come in with resources, and start investing in the country, developing the relationship with local customers, and more importantly we build the network of channels.

Also, from a VMware perspective we are willing to face our customers – we are still 100% indirect sales, but when you know you are becoming one of the key elements of the strategy of the CIO, they want to see you face-to-face. We are investing now in people, who are driving some big accounts, and linking together the needs of the customer, advising them on the technology, and bring the value of deployment and services from the partners.

NME: How far along are VMware customers in their adoption of virtualisation and cloud technologies at present?
SA: As an average with our customers, over 50% of the server workloads are virtualised - half of their servers are now virtualised. If you look at the Middle East, we are close to 30%, and what we can see is customers asking to deploy more and more. There is one really important step in the journey to the cloud, it is business critical applications. If you are going to leverage all the benefits of cloud, services, pooling, management, automation, self-services, you need to make sure that you can move forward, and virtualise your business critical applications.

Today our customers are coming to us and telling us they have medium-critical applications virtualised and in production, and now they need to move to the next step – it could be Exchange, SAP, databases, applications for specific sectors. There is no reason now, due to the power of the virtual machine and the software, not to virtualise.

NME: What is the adoption rate like in the Middle East?
SA: It is coming. When you look at the different workloads, at the beginning of the virtualisation journey, they start virtualising web applications. At the same time, CRM is an application that is virtualised, and the last business critical application to virtualise is the database. Most customers have a dedicated server to execute their DB, if it is going extremely well, they keep it like that. The only issue they are facing is that if they do not think about virtualisation of their business critical applications, you do not get your application ready for the cloud, because you are still sticking to hardware, so you can’t get the benefits.

Today in the Middle East we are seeing a lot of very interesting projects where customers want to go deep into virtualisation. It is no longer something kept at department level, it is becoming a company decision and they are moving forward.

NME: How long before the region will catch up to 50% virtualisation?
SA: When you look at a mature country, the analysis shows that every year, we add 10%, so that means if we follow exactly the same trends in MENA, it will be two years time.

NME: Are advanced skills available here in the region for the more advanced projects?
SA: Since [the market] is far away from the headquarters of the software vendors, I see a lot of partners investing on their own to get the competencies, compared to some countries where you really need to establish the relationship first, here it seems that partners are more proactive in doing that.

NME: Is VMware focused on any specific verticals in the region?
Some markets are early adopters, we saw in Europe that banking and telecom were early adopters, but in fact, it is much more general, we have customers everywhere. Our added value is of benefit independent of verticals.

Within VMware, we are trying to get specific content for some industry sectors, public sector/government is asking for specific solutions, but there is nothing special that we have to do just for the Middle East, it is the same needs. What is interesting is customers here know what they want, and move forward quickly.

NME: What’s next for VMware in the region?
SA: Next for us, and this is really linked to the growth of the company, our growth at the worldwide level is doing well. We have very good partner coverage, what we need to do is deliver the competencies that the partners are expecting. They have the minimum competencies, but now the projects are growing, they need to have specific competencies.

NME: And what next in technology terms?
SA: In the past, we were having huge success in virtualisation, because it was the start of the idea of pooling resources, and you were able to manage them in a totally different way. Virtualisation is really the foundation of the cloud, we want to remain the leader in virtualisation, and in the next step, which is the cloud. In terms of technology, it is quite simple we talk about ‘Your Cloud’. When you think about a specific customer, they have already invested a lot in IT. What they do not want is us to come to them, and tell them, ‘move all of your IT outside your organisation, and we will manage it for you’, that is not how it works.

What works is how we help them with the journey to cloud, using what they have today, and helping me in the transformation of the cloud. We have solutions to help customers to go to the private cloud, and we are able now through our technology alliances, to talk about the hybrid cloud. The hybrid could be the best of public and private cloud, and we have the technology, we have the software, we have the layers, the experience and the ecosystem, to go with our partners, to the customer, and tell them how to benefit from cloud services, but using what they have today.

We are convinced that a project with one customer to build their cloud is not the same as another customer. They use the same technology, but their needs are totally different.

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