In today’s ever-evolving market, one thing we can count on is change. Not many could have predicted the unprecedented disruption we are all now experiencing due to COVID-19. Although this has presented many challenges in how we interact and do business, many partners are emerging as pioneers to help businesses adapt to the pressing need for a work-from-home environment.
Richard Steeves sat down (virtually, of course) with Yves Sandfort, President and Founder of comdivision, to get his insights on how comdivision is adapting to meet evolving customer needs and leveraging their partnership with VMware to manage business continuity.
Maintaining a global, remote workforce has been normal procedure at comdivision, positioning the company to quickly and easily respond to this environmental shift. However, with most business in Europe typically conducted face-to-face, many customers have had to rapidly grow their infrastructure.
“This is where we have helped answer questions like ‘how do you get from 50 desktops to 500 desktops?’ or ‘how do you take control of managing all of the devices being used?’” – Yves Sandfort
One issue Yves cites as a large focus with their customers is security—including the desktop services not being up to date. Early detection has been instrumental for quick response and minimal impact, but Yves predicts that we will likely see data breaches more frequently over the next few weeks or even months with the increased need to work from home.
“Although customer demand was low for the first few weeks while customers attempted to manage their own security, the partner community was on high alert. Now, we are seeing a lot more customer interest as customers come to the realization that all of this remote work is actually possible.” – Yves Sandfort
There are some challenges to this new work from home dynamic which demonstrates the need for increased trust in the employee-leadership relationship regarding flexible hours and productivity. But ultimately, we all want and need to make this work, which reveals an opportunity that Yves believes will make 2020 “finally the year of the Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI).”
The partnership between VMware and comdivision was prepared for shifting IT needs from a vision and portfolio perspective. For comdivision, what’s changing is project pace. In the past, priority wasn’t placed on projects like VDI and remote work; there appeared to be too many challenges to accomplish these efforts. But now, because it must work, it does work. Six months ago, the concern was focused on getting 100% solution; now customers want solutions up and running, with 70-80% completion acceptable. Speed is the priority, if the majority works—which Yves believes is far more realistic.
“We can actually walk into every store and replace the complete IT infrastructure because [our customers] don’t need a maintenance window. They don’t need to do this on a Sunday because the store is closed. The time is now, because it’s easier.” – Yves Sandfort
With project pace increasing, customers are more actively pursuing cloud discussions. While comdivision’s customers with on-prem projects are facing delays waiting for hardware, Yves asserts that cloud is the best option because the demand for remote working requires the infrastructure to run somewhere. “Where for some customers it wouldn’t be a problem to go from 100 users to 1,000 or 5,000 users,” says Yves, “many are discovering that the cloud is a better place for them to scale up.”
Regarding this dependency on infrastructure, VMware remains uniquely positioned for either scenario with the flexibility to navigate between both public and private clouds.
Innovation doesn’t have to be complex
comdivision’s prepackaged solutions remain an advantage for its customers, removing non-essential services to help provide smaller scenarios that are easier to consume. One of those prepackaged solutions is their VDI Emergency Deployment, which provides an opportunity for businesses to kickstart running Workspace ONE, Horizon View, and baseline security to quickly ramp up support for a remote workforce.
Yves confirms, “doing this helps ensure the devices used to access [our customer’s] infrastructure is secured, the path of the access is secure, and the authentication is secured because this is where most attacks will occur. Opening the door to uncontrolled devices and unmanaged access methodology is a massive risk factor.”
With the speed that comdivision is able to supply a solution like their VDI Emergency Deployment package, customers can be running their workstations in the cloud in just a few hours.
In another proof of concept, comdivision is helping a customer host Horizon on AWS, moving some of their applications to AWS while maintaining a connection to their data center as the access layer. “We are trying to be creative and working on multiple ways to solve this, but it does not need to be complex,” notes Yves. “It is more important that it works, we get the security in place, and we get the devices managed because many companies have never thought about what is needed for their employees to take their work back home. That came as a surprise for many companies here in Europe and the pace with how quickly things evolved here, at least in Germany and in some other countries, was only a matter of days – there was no time for preparation.”
Connecting people with people
Partnering with VMware has helped to highlight the importance of simplicity when working to meet customer needs. For comdivision, the new Partner Connect Program helps with this fast-paced environment. One of the most important characteristics of Partner Connect is its simplicity and tier structure.
“That constant investment in people who are actually learning new products is something that is far more valued in the new program than it was in the past. The simplicity of the program is one of the key factors for us.” – Yves Sandfort
A give-and-take is important for successful partnership. “Incorporating smaller pieces where people can constantly stay engaged with continuous learning is highly mutually beneficial.” Yves points out that with the current environment over the past several weeks, it is becoming increasingly clear that, “people will need to discover new ways to learn. What are you going to do if your customers don’t engage now? Get your people into training, give them lab equipment, give them the ability to learn.”
From his perspective, the Partner Connect Program is well structured for this. “The Master Services Competency and other solution competencies are there, and the program provides for constant re-evaluation of partner skill levels,” says Yves. “It is important that partners actually learn the product before presenting that solution to the customer.” Any partner who makes these investments in training and building capabilities will be well-positioned when these opportunities are accelerated.
Working to ensure continued connection with their customers, comdivision conducts customer engagement through Zoom sessions as well. Recently, they hosted a Zoom session where two End User Computing (EUC) architects met with a customer to talk about pitfalls and certain scenarios with what could happen.“ I think that’s some of the notion right now – sharing knowledge for free,” Yves shared with us. “There are a lot of customers who are listening and consuming our content, YouTube videos or blog posts or anything like that, who use that as a reason to contact us.”
For some content shared by comdivision generating momentum with their customer base:
- Discussion roundtable on quick fixes for EUC/VDI
- Blog post from Jens Hennig, VCDX-DTM
- Blog post from Reinhard Partmann, EUC
- Blog post from Yves Sandfort, President & Founder
For more information about Business Continuity efforts from VMware:
- Business Continuity Solutions
- A message from Pat Gelsinger about COVID-19
- Partner Connect Portal Business Continuity Information and Offers
Sr. Director, Partner Programs and Experience
Worldwide Partner Organization