Kathy Gibson reports from VMworld in Barcelona – The empty leadership position at VMware SA has been filled. Matthew Kibby has joined as the new regional director: sub-Saharan Africa.

The position has been in the news a lot over the last couple of years, with previous incumbent Fred Baumhart having left in February 2015 after less than 10 months at the helm.

He had succeeded Ravi Bhat, who held the job for just seven months. Bhat took up the reins at VMware after a lengthy search following the loss of Chris Norton who was responsible for establishing VMware within the local market.

Mark Reynolds, partner and general business lead: sub-Saharan Africa At VMware, is enthusiastic about working with Kibby, who joins VMware from a 13-year tenure at Oracle.

His prior positions include six years at Bytes and nine years at Delarue System.

Another new appointment at VMware sub-Saharan Africa is Dave Funnel, who is looking after the vCloud Air Network partner ecosystem.

While vCloud Air is VMware’s own public cloud offering, the solution is also being offered as a hosted service through partners as vCloud Air Network. There are more than 40 partners currently offering the service in South Africa.

“It’s quite mature in South Africa,” Reynolds says. “There is still some work to do in Africa, but we are adding partners in Nigeria and Kenya which will give us a footprint in West Africa and East Africa.”

VMware has had consistent success in Africa over the last three years, Reynolds adds – although not always in the same geographies. A couple of years ago Nigerian, Angola and Kenya were the big growth areas, while today there is a lot of business coming from Ethiopia, Uganda, Zambia, Namibia, Botswana and Mozambique, with some interest also seen in Madagascar.

“There is still a lot of opportunity in Africa,” Reynolds says. “These are customers who understand the business and they understand technology. The business is there for companies that are prepared to put in the hard world.”

VMware goes to market throughout the continent via its partner network, and this ecosystem is growing in both numbers and expertise. Reynolds says that the number of enterprise resellers in Africa has doubled over the last year, while there are a couple of premier partners emerging in Uganda and Nigeria as well.

The future for VMware technology is also looking bright, Reynolds adds, with new announcements at VMworld a couple of weeks ago in San Francisco and this week in Barcelona paving the way for the company to offer solutions that address the whole software defined data centre (SDDC) stack.

“Just three years ago vSphere accounted for more than 90% of our business – today that’s down to less than 50%,” Reynolds says. “Our objective is to take our customers on a journey through the SDDC stack.”

While the focus for virtualisation has traditionally been on the compute functions, with the added value of management and automation, these technologies are now moving into virtual storage and networking.

There has been some success in the South African market, with a couple of NFX deals being signed in the last couple of months.

“We see networking virtualisation becoming a big focus in South Africa in the next 12 months,” Reynolds says.

The new technology offerings mean channel partners have the opportunity to move into new market areas, and new resellers are also coming on board. In the last couple of weeks, VMware has signed partnering agreements with XON and Core Africa for its NFX offerings.

Not unexpectedly, Aptronics has already achieved the new NFX certification, continuing its tradition of being one of the most certified partner in the global VMware ecosystem.

Partners and customers are curious about the effects that this week’s announcement that Dell will buy EMC will have on VMware’s go-to-market strategy – but Reynolds is quick to settle any fears.

“For a start, the whole acquisition is going to take nine to 12 months to finalise and it will definitely be business as usual in that time.

“Long-term, VMware is very reliant on its partnering ecosystem and we will have to find ways to work with all our partners in order to be successful.

“Dell is a partner-centric organisation and we have worked with them extensively in South Africa. They also have their own channel, as well as a broad customer reach.”