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HP CEO Mark Hurd is on record as saying that HP is committed to including its distribution channel in future cloud services offerings, even if “[t]he historical, old EDS, which is now a part of HP Enterprise Services, has historically been very focused on the biggest customers on the planet” via a direct sales structure.
“But we think with our channel partners, there are many services that we can build that our channel partners can offer from us,” the Hurd said in an interview earlier this year.
What will the mechanics of all this look like? Hurd pointed to data back-up, remote database synchronization and packaging excess data center capacity as potential services that channel partners might be able to sell for HP under the framework of a cloud computing portfolio.
Hurd reprised those comments more recently at the Americas Partner Conference in Las Vegas, telling partners that it was likely that HP "would build cloud capability later in the year" and "very likely put it through the channel."
Hurd’s recent comments on the integration of the former EDS into the traditionally channel-focused sales structure at HP hold promise for partners, particularly around their inclusion in cloud initiatives. “When we go look at our ability to provide services in the cloud -- that's a term I like to be cautious with -- and you break that down into more fundamental services, like backing up a data center, synchronizing databases remotely, etc., etc., etc. -- we think we can build that capability as a service capability from HP,” he said.
“But we can take it to market through our channel. And so I want to make sure I'm clear ... that our services [expansion] does not mean that there isn't an opportunity for our channel partners. I think quite the opposite.”
Expanding enterprise-class service offerings into the HP partner channel, “isn’t something that will happen overnight,” said Charles King, principal analyst at Pund-IT.
“In the short term, I expect that HP will focus most of its attention and energy on enterprises to which it can sell direct. Those are the highest margin customers and the ones it wants to compete for, against IBM and others,” King said.
“The channel offers the most logical and effective means HP has for engaging with mid-market and smaller businesses, so developing channel programs for those customers makes sense over the long term.”
King said that on the automated services front, HP’s “closest comparable competitor would probably be IBM, which is actively expanding its hosted cloud infrastructure offerings.”
“If the industry truly is headed toward cloud-based hosted service offerings, this is a critical transition for HP. Off hand, I expect that EDS assets comprise a sizable portion of the infrastructure being upgraded -- mainly because HP completed a sizable upgrade of its own data centers fairly recently,” he said.
“If that’s correct, it suggests that HP has largely completed the organizational part of the EDS integration and is now beginning the operational integration process.”