During part 1 I laid out what it is I wanted to achieve with this series of blog posts, hopefully some of you have found the contents of Part 1’s Post Project Planning post useful. Don’t forget if there is anything you wish to add or if you have any comments please feel free to let me know. For those of you that missed part 1 it can be found here >> http://bit.ly/6Lk6Ry
Finding a Virtualisation Partner
For many small and some medium businesses the thought of undertaking a complete virtualisation project themselves is out of reach, as such a large majority will be looking to work with a virtualisation partner in some capacity. First of all hands up, I do work for a VMware Enterprise Partner but I intend to make this post as non biased as possible. I am not intending to point you in any particular direction, more give you a few questions you should be asking yourself when making this decision. I must also say that I haven’t covered the area of individual consultants or contractors, this isn’t an area I have much experience in, but a lot of the points below regarding qualifications, references etc will still be valid. If you are a virtualisation contractor or self employed consultant is there anything you would like to see added to this post? If so let me know.
A good place to start looking for a VMware recognised partner is VMware’s partner locator
The description of the different levels of partner are listed below, it is worth noting that the levels of partner status are very much based on the size as well as the ability of the partner. As you go up the different levels within the VMware partner program the partners are required to have a certain number of VCP, VTSP as well as VSP’s there are also financial goals in terms of amount of VMware product sales required at the different levels. A premier partner requires a significant amount of VMware licences to be sold by the partner, this makes it a lot easier for a large software vendor to become a premier partner (possibly with not a huge amount of project experience) and much more difficult for a dedicated solutions provider to gain this level of accreditation.
It is important when deciding on the partner that you are happy with the level of response you get, answers to you questions, face to face meetings etc.
When speaking to perspective partners find out about the qualifications that there staff hold, these include.
VSP – VMware Sales Professional
Any sales professionals you are dealing with should be at least at the VSP level.
VTSP – VMware Technical Sales Professional
This is the minimum level you should expect anyone who is assisting from a technical point of view in the sales process.
VCP – VMware Certified Professional
This is the level you should expect the engineers working on your project to be at.
VCDX – VMware Certified Design Expert
This is a bit of a holy grail for virtualisation professional at the moment, there is a very stringent process to become a VCDX and there are very few of these worldwide. Most if not all will be working on large enterprise projects or working for VMware themselves.
Find out if the engineers that will be working on your project actually work for the partner you are dealing with or whether the work will actually be outsourced to another company. It is important that if this is the case that you are as happy with the company the work will be outsourced to as the partner you will be dealing directly with.
References and Case Studies
Just as if you were employing a new member of staff any good partner will be able to give you a list of reference sites where you can find out about the level of work a specific partner has given in the past. It is important that when looking at case studies and references that they are similar to your requirement, e.g. size of business, number of servers, storage products being used etc. If a partner is unable to give references or case studies similar to your project find out why this is, have they got enough experience in the area you are looking at and have their previous customers been happy with the final delivered solution.
Whilst it maybe difficult for an individual consultant to be able to demonstrate the technologies to you, you should be able to expect most partners to have the ability one way or another to demonstrate the keys areas of the a solution to you in house. This will give you a good opportunities to ask questions and find out more details about your specific environment prior to a design.
Whilst it is highly important that your partner knows VMware’s products inside out it is also important that they know the related technologies, networking, storage and backup etc. Even if you are going to be using the partner for one specific area of your virtualisation project, ensure that they are comfortable with the areas of interaction between the related technologies.
The people and work methods
One of the most important elements is to make sure that you are happy with the people you will be dealing with and ensure they will work in a way that you want. Find out what their process of installation will be? Are they willing for you to work alongside them so you or your staff can gain extra knowledge? What documentation will be made available at the end of the project? What support is available at the end of the project?
There are a lot of vendors out there that will be able to deliver your solution, there will also be a lot that will promise the world and not be able to deliver it. Be happy with your choice, ensure they have demonstrated their skill and knowledge in the relevant areas and are willing to share references and case studies so you can gain confidence. You are in the driving seat when making this decision and it is up to the partner to demonstrate they can deliver what you want. I am aware that is quite a deep subject and there is a lot more that could be said regarding this, if you have any personal experience of choosing a partner or you are a partner and think there is something I missed please let me know.
Also don’t forgot if you have found this or any other of my posts useful consider voting for me on Eric Sieberts Top 25 Bloggers >> http://vsphere-land.com/news/time-to-vote-for-your-favorite-bloggers.html