OCTO Initiative: Nonprofit Connect - Amplifying Impact with VMware's Nonprofit Customers
At VMware, we believe that technology can be a significant force for good by helping address the world’s societal challenges when integrated with existing processes and in partnership with the people working closest to the challenges. As the world relies on 12 million global nonprofits to continue tackling the planet’s most pressing problems, we also recognize many of these nonprofits struggle with realizing the benefits of technology. VMware is committed to supporting nonprofits in their digital transformation by investing in the people, process and technology needed for an organization’s evolution.
Amongst our base of 500,000 customers are hundreds of nonprofit customers whose missions vary – from improving access to clean water to empowering women in South America to providing refuge for people forced to flee.
However, unlike many in our traditional enterprise for-profit customer base, our relatively smaller nonprofit customers generally don’t have a feedback loop between VMware R&D and themselves. Larger customers tend to have dedicated professionals who service, advise, and bring feedback into our organization through multiple communication streams. Nonprofits are not generally represented in this communication loop, which effectively limits how much we know about how they are using our products, and any gaps between what they are trying to accomplish and our solution as it’s implemented.
Nonprofit Connect Program
In the spirit of strengthening Nonprofits through more effective and sustainable technology, members of the Office of the CTO Ambassadors program in partnership with the VMware Foundation created Nonprofit Connect. The goal of this program is to build a feedback loop with VMware’s nonprofit customers, so we can amplify the nonprofit organization’s impact. This year, we conducted multiple interviews and gathered fascinating insights into how nonprofit organizations use VMware products to achieve their missions. We also uncovered people, process, and technology gaps that exist when these customers are implementing VMware solutions. Here are the top five findings from the interviews:
- Many of the interviewed nonprofit customers confirmed they were long-term users of vSphere (10+ years) and had plans to migrate to 6.7 or 7.0 beyond. Interestingly, several customers requested that we shouldn’t “drop the ball” with vSphere while attending to our significantly expanded VMware portfolio. While there is interest in vSphere 7.0 and its native Kubernetes integration, nonprofit organizations are not commonly early adopters (often due to external factors like funding constraints and the nonprofit starvation cycle) and most organizations are only starting their journey to cloud-native applications. There was however a strong interest in VMware Cloud on AWS and Azure VMware Solutions to access cloud-based infrastructure without the need to re-skill.
- Skills and training were indeed a common topic of discussion: nonprofit customers can find themselves without budget or skills to implement a new technology. Many of the contacted customers did not realized that VMware Learning Zone offered free training (and premium access for 6 months free of charge) or did not know of the breadth of labs offered by the complementary VMware Hands-On Labs.
- Cyber-Security was also a significant concern for most of our nonprofit customers: some of them already used VMware Carbon Black and had relevant product feedback that was shared back to the engineering team, while others had plans to deploy NSX-T to provide further micro-segmentation in their PCI environment. Nonprofit customers are indeed acutely aware of the responsibility they have over customers’ and donors’ financial details.
- Given the nature of their individual missions, many of our global nonprofit customers operate in remote locations where communication can be expensive or intermittent. They see our Workspace One product line and our Software-Defined WAN (SD-WAN) product (VMware NSX SD-WAN by VeloCloud) as solutions that help to reduce operational costs while offering a superior level of service for their end-users.
- The current COVID-19 situation also caused significant challenges. These challenges are both technical, as some of the nonprofit customers had to adapt to remote working practices at short notice, and also financial, as nonprofit organizations worldwide have been negatively impacted with staff being furloughed, critical community programs canceled, and fundraising efforts stalled. Most of our nonprofit customers were not aware of several VMware initiatives offered to assist customers during this difficult period, such as the extended free trials of Horizon Universal License, Workspace One or the special VMware Cloud on AWS & NSX Advanced Load Balancing offers described here.
So far, we are pleased to see the progress and value the Nonprofit Connect Program brings to VMware’s nonprofit customers, by connecting them to existing VMware resources and creating a feedback loop for these customers. Together, we strive to strengthen the Nonprofit’s operations and ultimately amplify their positive impact in the world. If you are a VMware nonprofit customer organization and would like to participate in the next round of interviews, please contact us at email@example.com.
Nico Vibert works for VMware as a Lead Solution Engineer for the VMware Cloud on AWS service. Most of his career has been spent in the networking world, from a junior support engineer working for a Cisco partner to a senior network architect working for Cisco itself. Nico finally joined VMware late in 2015 and worked on the network virtualization software NSX before transitioning to the VMware Cloud on AWS team. Nico has a strong technical background, validated with 17 certifications over his career, including the Cisco CCIE certification, recognised as one of the toughest certifications in the IT Industry. To complement his technical certifications and expertise, Nico built solid enterprise architecture skills (based on TOGAF) and have written business cases and devised complex financial ROI models. Nico regularly speaks at events, whether on a large scale such as VMworld, Cisco Live or at smaller forums such as VMUGs or local events.
Michelle Kaiser is a strategic, adaptable, hands-on technology leader with 25 years in global consulting, education, program, project, and technical account management. She is currently a dedicated VMware TAM, acting as strategic advisor, customer advocate, and stakeholder liaison for one of VMware’s largest global partner accounts. She is a proud member of VMware CTO Ambassador’s Program for which she won Ambassador of the Year for her creation and stewardship of the OCTO-initiative Nonprofit Connect, which aims to expand VMware’s nonprofit customers’ IT capacity so that they can be more effective in reaching their own objectives. You can reach her on LinkedIn.