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Q&8 with VMware

Q&8 is a recurring series on Blackfoot's blog where we interview our expert partners and employees, asking 8 questions to provide unique insights.

8 Questions & Answers with Troy Heine

Q1: Will you introduce yourself and your role?

My name is Troy Heine I am an account executive focused on the Service Provider Partner, route to market for the SD-WAN and SASE, which is Secure Access Service Edge product line. I've been with VMware now just shy of five years.

Q2: Can you provide a general overview of what VMware does?

VMware originally started out as a pioneer in the data center virtualization space. But since then, VMware has evolved into a multi-product organization that not only covers data center but security— both branch office security, as well as data center security—software-defined wide network, as we've described here; end-user compute; mobile device management; and plethora of other Software as a Service products.

Q3: What is the relationship between VMware and Blackfoot?

Blackfoot Communications serves as a channel partner for our SD-WAN product. We brought Blackfoot on, I believe in 2019 or 2020. It was with my predecessor so I'm not sure the exact date. Effectively, Blackfoot takes our SD-WAN product, customizes it, and adds on additional services such as your circuits and network offerings and delivers that as a single package to end-user customers and enterprises.

Q4: What is a common question you hear from your clients and how do you respond?

A common question is why VMware and why should we adopt a software-defined wide area network? I'll start with the first part. Why VMware? We have a leading SD-WAN product in the space according to the Gartner Magic Quadrant for the last three to four consecutive years. Our software-defined wide area network solution has a unique cloud-forward architecture that provides us performance advantages over our competition.

And then, why should channel partners and telecommunications providers such as Blackfoot adopt SD-WAN is because you can take our solution and combine it with your existing offerings, such as MPLS, and create a customized solution. That allows you to hold on to your MPLS revenue that you've historically brought in, but also expand upon that and create a more customized offering that is beneficial to your customers.

And then lastly, you have the ability to manage customers outside of your network footprint. And what I mean by that is you can bring on a customer that has branch offices and data centers in your network footprint, but you can also bring on branch offices that are outside of that, that might be serviced by other telecommunications providers. And then you can basically act as the network manager for that client and eventually, you're expanding your reach into markets that you historically have not been in, which obviously results in more revenue and benefit to you as a channel partner. That was a long-winded explanation, but I hope that was helpful.

Q5: How do you go about assessing the needs of a business?

Well, to assess the needs of a business, I would say is to really understand what their strategies are as it relates to their network. Are they expanding their footprint? Are they adding on new locations? Are they acquiring new companies that would result in more locations added to their network footprint, too? Are they up for a hardware refresh, meaning do they, have existing routers in place on their network that are coming towards their end of serviceable life? That definitely is a trigger to update the network to more modern solutions such as SD-WAN.

What is your cloud migration strategy? Are you moving applications out of data centers and into the public internet aka the cloud? That is a trigger for the need for SD-WAN.

Another is how is your current network architected? Is it all centralized in a data center? Do you have branch offices reaching out to the cloud directly or does that all go through a centralized data center, as well? That's important because if you are moving towards a cloud-type architecture where you're using applications, that type of centralized architecture no longer works because it creates performance issues, bottlenecks, and also security gaps. If branches are reaching out to the internet directly, the network, administrators need to be able to see, manage, and secure that traffic.

So those are the three, to four big triggers to assess if a customer needs an SD-WAN solution in place such as what VMware and Blackfoot offer.

Q6: In your opinion, what is unique to VMware's approach?

VMware's approach, and I'm specifically talking about SD-WAN, is our cloud-first architecture. And what I mean by that is we designed this solution from the ground up with points of presence all over the globe that are on the doorstep or within data centers that host cloud services. What we do is create an optimized route from the customer's branch offices and headquarters to these applications, providing a secure tunnel from each site to those applications and providing the ability to steer traffic across multiple circuits based on the best performance at that point in time. We basically provide assured application performance ease of management through our centralized management portal of the network. It's an optimized performance, but also, securing that internet bound traffic.

Also, what's unique in our approach is through our DMPO technology – that's dynamic, multi-path optimization. We can steer traffic on a per-packet basis. And when you look at other, SD-WAN vendors out there, they do this on what's known as more of a flow-basis where if you have one type of traffic traversing one circuit, and let's say that circuit fails, that whole stream of traffic has to be re-diverted to the other circuit. And that can cause delays in performance and especially causes issues with real-time applications like voice and video. With our packet-based solution, we are basically steering that traffic on a per-packet per-millisecond basis to always find the optimized route to enable that performance. This is a key differentiator in our story, and this also relates to our broader product portfolio with our security offerings that we have included with our SD-WAN package.

Q7: What’s the best part of your job?

The best part of my job is really the product itself. I truly believe in the product. I think it's the best in the space. I think, you know, competitively, there really isn't any other vendor out there that can provide the end-user and customer experience that we can offer.

Second is the company itself, VMware as a whole is a very forward-looking company, a very employee-centric company, and a very well-respected company in the space for over 20 years.

Those are my top two in terms of favorite parts about my job.

Q8: What’s the single most important takeaway from our chat today?

Our single most important takeaway from the chat today is that you know Blackfoot is partnered with a very strong and respected organization and a leader in the SD-WAN technology space; and a company from my own personal opinion that will be around for a long time and will continue to be a leader in the market. And, from a Blackfoot perspective, I would think it is to continue this relationship and grow with us into the future.

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