By Petr McAllister
After being a VMware Technical Account Manager (TAM) for more than three years in Europe and North America, I’m still being asked almost every day: “What does a TAM do?” By now I have an answer that seems to be short and complete: “My work as a TAM is to make sure the customer is using everything that they purchased from VMware.” “Everything” means (a) products, (b) services, (c) training/ education and—most importantly—(d) vision.
Acronyms occasionally confuse readers. Here is the short explanation:
– PSO stands for Professional Services Organization – A PSO is a customer-facing VMware business unit that includes architects, consultants and TAMs. In other words, professionals with a lot of hands-on experience who are in place to help VMware customers be successful.
– TAM stands for Technical Account Manager – To reiterate, a TAM is a person who on a regular basis (at least weekly) manages the account and customer’s relationship with VMware using technical expertise and guidance to lead the customer toward achieving business goals.
Most customers purchase a number of PSO Credits together with newly signed or renewed Enterprise License Agreements (ELAs). In most cases, a TAM is included in an ELA and starts at the same time as PSO Credits are issued. So one of the first questions I get as a TAM is: “What are PSO Credits and how can our organization use them?”
PSO Credits are pre-paid points that can be used in different ways. PSO Credits have an expiration date of usually one year. If a TAM lets the customer’s PSO Credits expire, it means the TAM is not doing a very good job. The price of PSO Credits to the customer during the purchase varies depending on the volume, but the general idea is one PSO Credit equals $100 USD.
So there are several ways to use PSO Credits that are mostly self-explanatory:
– PSO Credits can be used to purchase PSO Services – (a) consulting services to architect and implement VMware products and solutions (it can be pre-packaged services or crafted to the customer needs) and/or (b) purchase/renew TAM service
– PSO Credits can be used for educational services – (a) different types of training offerings—Classroom, On-Demand, Online—for individuals, or on-site for the customer’s entire team (in this case the program can be crafted to address the customer’s specific goals) and (b) certification exams – PSO Credits are exchanged for vouchers that allow individuals to take VMware exams
– The most exciting way to use PSO Credits is VMworld – Yes, that’s correct – VMware allows customers to exchange PSO Credits for a VMworld Full Access pass. VMworld is one of the biggest events in the industry – and it takes place annually in the U.S. during the last week of August, and in Europe in mid-October. You can learn a lot in one week attending VMworld sessions, from talking to other VMware customers, and VMware staff and product managers.
The only question that is not answered yet is: “Why would your organization choose to go the PSO Credits route instead of getting separate transactions to purchase consulting, TAM, education services or exams, or to go to VMworld?” There are a few reasons:
– Value – PSO Credits that are included in enterprise license agreements are highly discounted because of volume. Additionally, PSO Credits are included to increase the agility of product adoption included in the ELA. There is already a plan to use PSO Credits drafted between lines in ELAs, and this plan is most likely discussed in much more detail between VMware account teams and the customer while preparing to work on the ELA.
– Flexibility – The organization uses PSO Credits as it goes. Priorities can change overnight and implementing one product can be replaced with re-designing another technology. Additionally, the focus or scope of training for the customer’s team can change. With PSO Credits you make this decision when the organization is ready – not when the budget cycle dictates you need to make a decision.
– Decrease administrative effort – Instead of going through multiple purchasing cycles—when paperwork needs to be prepared every time, approvals received, or the finance department needs to process purchase orders—you go to the online portal and assign PSO Credits to the project/task that will help your business move forward.
I’d like to conclude with an example of how one of my customers (let’s call them ABC Enterprises) used their PSO Credits during the last year.
– ABC Enterprises signed an ELA in May 2014 and received PSO Credits to use. After the deal was executed, ABC had an informal session with their TAM (me) where I explained to them what their options were.
– ABC decided to send two of their team members to VMworld – one was the Infrastructure Team Manager and the other was the Technical Lead Architect. The employees, with the help of their TAM, selected appropriate tracks and sessions to attend. Additionally, the TAM was able to organize an Executive Customer Briefing between the Project Management Team and VMworld attendees from ABC. The topic was automation and monitoring of virtual workloads that would help ABC to increase efficiency of their operations through automation, and minimize risks through process standardization.
– After returning from VMworld, ABC decided to train the rest of the infrastructure group on VMware monitoring and automation products. This was organized through their VMware TAM, and a custom class was provided on-premise that answered ABC-specific needs and integration with other systems that ABC uses. It helped everyone on the team understand how VMware technology would benefit ABC.
– One of the outcomes of the training was they were confident they could operate VMware automation and monitoring technologies; however, if they have professional help designing and implementing a solution for them, they’d prefer to take that path. Again, the TAM was requested to assist, and proper PSO resources were engaged; I provided a choice of custom implementation or a pre-defined service package. ABC preferred standard service and used PSO Credits to purchase the consulting work.
– The consulting work was concluded with a high level of success. Knowledge transfer allowed internal resources to operationalize the solution.
– At the end of the year, ABC had a few PSO Credits left and used them to get team members certified to become VMware Certified Professionals (VCP).
If you just received PSO Credits and are asking yourself where to start, talk this list over with your account team and your TAM, if you have one! If you don’t, you can even use your credits to start using the VMware TAM service at your company.
Petr McAllister is a VMware Technical Account Manager based out of Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.