For more than a year, Hewlett Packard has been researching ways to guide its channel partners into the Wild West frontier known as cloud computing. It's an ongoing journey, and partners still have plenty of uncertainty about where it will lead, but HP says it's making real progress in getting its channel ready for the rigors of cloud computing.
HP in late January launched a private cloud infrastructure-as-a-service that's delivered from its data centers. But more strategic from HP's perspective is its new Cloud Enablement Program, which gives partners financial incentives to build their own cloud service delivery platforms using HP's Converged Infrastructure portfolio.
For partners that are new to the cloud, the Cloud Enablement Program helps with planning, identifying business objectives, calculating ROI, and other challenging aspects of cloud-magnitude projects, according to Frank Rauch, vice president, channel sales, for HP's Enterprise Storage Server Networking (ESSN) group.
"Our strategy is to give partners a path to be able to sell the private cloud and demonstrate the private cloud," Rauch said in an interview. "We're making significant contributions in MDF to build out partner projects, and helping partners that are willing to co-invest and build out their own cloud infrastructure."
Capital expenditure is usually the biggest bugbear for cloud-curious solution providers: Most can see the glittering jewel of recurring cloud revenue but not all can afford to pony up the bucks for the infrastructure they need to become cloud service providers.
SHI, a Piscataway N.J.-based solution provider is one of the few that has made the jump, but the company generated $3 billion in revenue last year and plans to open a $20 million cloud services data center in Somerset, N.J. next July. It's a gamble that's well worth making in light of the returns that are waiting down the road, said Henry Fastert, chief technologist and managing partner for SHI.
"There aren't that many cloud service providers, but there will be lots of companies looking to deploy private cloud," Fastert said. "HP is not known as a service provider today, but the private cloud is an enormous opportunity."
HP's remedy to for channel capex challenges is Cloud Centers of Excellence, a program that includes training and financial support for partners to build their own on-site cloud demonstration centers. What's important about this initiative is that it's available to partners of all sizes, Rauch said.
"Not all of these partners are large partners," he said, adding that HP is also using partner-to-partner networking to link cloud beginner partners to others that have the capital and expertise to carry out cloud projects.
HP is also holding a series of one-and two-day Cloud Discovery workshops in which HP professionals teach partners about cloud business models, security implications and services delivery best practices. "We want to help our partners to become as skilled as our own cloud people," Rauch said.
Next: More Encouraging Cloud News