How can corporate IT departments and CIOs more effectivley plan, budget and manage their cloud services spending for 2014? VMware (VMW) thinks its Cloud Credits Purchasing Program can greatly simplify the process -- while empowering vCloud Service Providers along the way.

Launched in early 2013, the program allows customerts to purchase and manage public or hybrid cloud spending in one transaction. CIOs can "take advantage of budgeting and project cycles to pre-purchase cloud services, and then redeem the credits when business demand dictates."

As The VAR Guy's DH Kass reported in March 2013:

"The idea is exceedingly channel-friendly—customers consult with channel partners not only on their current needs but also to outline their future needs—and execute the plan with service providers. Moreover, customers aren’t bound to one service provider to cash in on their cloud credits."

2014 IT and Cloud Services Budgets

Fast forward to December 2013, and VMware is promoting the Cloud Credits Purchasing Program as a way to help CIOs plan their 2014 IT budgets and cloud spend. As part of the effort, VMware is promoting certified vCloud Service Providers to assist VARs and their customers with the cloud planning process.

Some pundits think VMware's own vCloud Hybrid Service will undermine third-party vCloud Service Providers. The VAR Guy begs to differ. The reason: Think about the Microsoft ecosystem, where scores of hosting providers and cloud providers offer hosted Exchange, SharePoint, Lync and virtualized Windows Servers -- even as Microsoft continues to promote Windows Azure and Office 365.

The VAR Guy expects the VMware partner ecosystem to evolve similarly, with scores of vCloud Service Providers continuing to thrive even as VMware's own vCloud Hybrid Service continues to grow. CIOs, in turn, can leverage the cloud credits program to work more closely with their choice of VMware cloud partners.