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VMware NSX vExpert program the latest in network virtualization growth

Building on the success of its vExpert loyalty program, VMware has created the NSX vExpert program to stimulate customer interest in its networking and security offering.

VMware founded its vExpert program with the intention of rewarding passionate customers. Though the program offers no monetary reward or payout, it comes with some perks, including software licenses for noncommercial use, access to special vExpert community events at VMware conferences and even vendor swag.

Perhaps the greatest benefit to becoming a vExpert, however, is the authority it grants you. Although it may not carry the same weight as a certification, being a vExpert indicates that you are something of an authority on all things VMware, which can help boost your resume.

VMware reinforced its commitment to NSX by creating a specific vExpert path: NSX vExpert.

The criteria for acceptance into the vExpert loyalty program are flexible. Candidates can show their expertise through blog posts, webcasts, articles or public speaking. Since its creation, the vExpert program has grown, establishing a community of VMware loyalists. These loyalists work directly with VMware engineers. VMware forms a genuine relationship with customers, something that many sales teams fail to do.

The criteria for acceptance into the vExpert loyalty program are flexible. Candidates can show their expertise through blog posts, webcasts, articles or public speaking.

This success did not go unnoticed by VMware's partners and competitors. Since VMware made the  vExpert member registry available to the public, members began to receive offers from competitors. Some vendors, including Microsoft, Cisco, Citrix, Nutanix and Pernix created their own loyalty rewards programs.

These loyalty programs were popular with customers and corporations alike; customers enjoy the rewards, while vendors foster positive relationships with their customer bases. Although there are many factors that affect technology purchases, new technologies are often introduced by an evangelist rather than a vendor.

With partners and competitors alike turning up the heat, VMware launched the NSX vExpert and VSAN vExpert programs. VSAN already has an established user base, but NSX has a smaller following. This is, in large part, due to the cost of NSX and the lack of a demo for NSX. At present, there's only a hands-on lab for NSX. As VMware looks to grow NSX and build an engaged user community, the company has turned to the success of the vExpert program and leveraged to create a community of NSX vExperts.

While there are over 1,200 vExperts, there are just over 120 NSX vExperts. Those who have obtained the recognition -- myself included -- aren't simply engineers or architects deploying NSX. Rather, these are people engaging with NSX and discovering what it can bring to the data center. While many users carry a flag for a specific vendor, NSX is different. It's a product rather than an entire suite. It's a bit unusual to create such a program based on a single offering, but NSX is a unique product; it bridges gaps between infrastructure, virtualization, networking and security, so it's difficult to determine exactly who in the data center owns it.

With NSX, VMware created a product which, at minimum, impacts three different IT siloes -- networking, infrastructure and security. Getting all three of these groups to work together is a challenge for businesses. The new VMware NSX vExpert program helps identify experts to showcase the product's value. Some might say this is just a clever marketing scheme and, to a degree, it is. However, companies tend to place more trust in independent experts rather than sales people looking to make commission.

VMware chose to embrace and encourage those that showed an interest in a technology that is radically shaping the data center. It's a win-win situation -- users gain access to NSX software and licenses as well as exclusive webcasts, and VMware gets a loyal base of customers well-versed in this new technology. VMware customers, from the official VMware user group to the vExpert groups, have shown a level of passion and commitment most vendors only dream of. The product's future success may not be directly tied to the VMware NSX vExpert program, but NSX vExperts will likely lead the charge for NSX in the data center.

Next Steps

The benefits of being a VMware vExpert

NSX security is the way forward

The road to becoming a vExper

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