Hewlett-Packard Vice President and General Manager of Worldwide Technology Services and Support Scott Weller said a new firmware support policy for ProLiant servers that goes into effect Wednesday is aimed at providing high-quality and consistent customer service from authorized HP partners.
"For our partners, this helps them differentiate from unauthorized providers in the market who are not investing in the skills and access to our IP [intellectual property] to deliver a consistent, higher-quality customer experience," said Weller in an interview with CRN. "This is about getting that consistent and really high-quality experience. That is what the market wants and expects when they buy HP gear. That is our high standard."
A host of unauthorized service providers with access to the firmware were, in fact, delivering a "substandard" service to HP ProLiant customers, said Weller.
"What we found is customers were really not getting the kind of service experience that we and our delivery certified channel partners expected and wanted to give to customers," he said. "What would happen is an unauthorized partner could represent to the customer an equivalent experience on the basis of having access to these firmware udpates and then come back and deliver a substandard experience."
Under the new policy, which was implemented on high-end storage systems and business-critical servers such as HP Superdome last year, HP will provide ProLiant firmware updates and Service Pack for ProLiant through the "HP Support Center only to customers with a valid warranty, Care Pack Service or support agreement." Safety and security firmware updates will continue to be available at no charge, according to HP, Palo Alto, Calif.
The new firmware policy affects ProLiant servers outside the manufacturer warranty, which runs up to three years on certain ProLiant servers. The Care Pack Service agreements to ensure continued firmware support generally run about several hundred dollars per server, per year.
Rick Malady, vice president of All Lines Technology , a fast-growing HP Platinum partner based in Pittsburgh, Pa., said he couldn't be happier about the ProLiant firmware policy change. "This is great news," he said. "We are an HP exclusive provider that has invested millions of dollars in our own demo center with $2.5 million in HP equipment and field engineers. It's a huge investment. All this does is reinforce the value we bring to the table and allows us to invest more in the partnership with HP."
Malady estimated that 80 percent of All Lines Technology's customers already are covered by existing ProLiant Care Pack or warranty support. The other 20 percent are receiving support from about a dozen nonauthorized HP partners, he said.
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