At VMworld 2012 (Aug. 26-30, San Francisc0), VMware is expected to share an expanded vision -- one that involves virtualization driving private and public cloud initiatives. Amid a CEO transition, VMware (NYSE: VMW) is expected to explain how its software will power converged data centers that are elastic and scalable. But what are the key building blocks for VARs, and what questions should channel partners be asking? Here's a five-point preview from The VAR Guy...

...including:

1. The CEO Transition: New VMware CEO Pat Gelsinger will succeed Paul Maritz in September. But the passing of the crown will occur, at least symbolically, during VMworld. Both Gelsinger and Maritz will be on stage. While Maritz built VMware into a virtualization giant, Gelsinger will march the company forward promoting a range of private and public cloud building blocks. Gelsinger is formerly president and COO, EMC Information Infrastructure Products -- suggesting that he (like Maritz) has a complete view of data center trends.

2. Software-defined Networks: VMware is in the process of  buying Nicira for about $1.2 billion. The move seeks to make VMware the "industry leader in software-defined networking (SDN).” Early Nicira adopters include AT&T, eBay and Rackspace. Nicira is the latest example of virtualization moving beyond servers and extending toward converged data center networks. VMware and Nicira expect to complete the M&A deal in the second half of 2012, so VMware may not be able to say too much about Nicira's technology at VMworld. But listen for VMware to paint with broad strokes, describing how the age of software defined networks will unfold for channel partners.

3. Beyond VDI - Virtual Desktop Infrastructure: When VMware acquired Wanova in May 2012, it triggered new, expanded conversations about virtual desktops. Going forward, VARs have the opportunity to centrally manage customers' images across physical and and virtual desktops. Those images can run in a VDI session, on a client hypervisor or natively on a PC, Wanova indicated. So what's next? Answers at VMworld.

4. VMware Cloud Certifications: VMware certifications are among the most popular within the IT channel. Much like the company's software stack, the certifications are pushing far beyond virtualization to help VARs and service providers build public and private clouds. The list of potential training options is getting pretty long for VARs and cloud consultants. What are the natural first steps. Here again, The VAR Guy will pursue answers at VMworld.

5. From PaaS to SaaS: What's the latest with platform as a service (Cloud Foundary) and SaaS options (like Zimbra email and collaboration)? Last The VAR Guy heard, Cloud Foundry was in beta -- attracting developers that wanted to test the system. But when does Cloud Foundry become more of a business for both VMware and its channel partners? Surely, some new answers will surface at VMworld. Also, listen closely for updates on Zimbra -- the popular open source email platform that many service providers are deploying.

The VAR Guy will attend VMworld. Stay tuned for minute-by-minute news updates and perspectives, shared via The VAR Guy's Private and Public Cloud InfoCenter.