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Top HP solution providers said HP's bid to increase its networking influence is paying off in spades.
Marc Sarazin, executive vice president of sales and marketing for AdvizeX Technologies, an Independence, Ohio-based solution provider and top HP partner, said AdvizeX's HP Networking sales grew 500 percent from 2010 to 2011 following a strategic decision in November 2009 to build a networking practice specific to HP.
AdvizeX had been an HP VAR focused on storage and servers long before that time, but according to Sarazin, adding HP Networking effectively doubled AdvizeX's market opportunity, and HP Networking is now the highest-margin product set in AdvizeX's portfolio.
"Our average deal size is now $100,000," said Sarazin. "We have more than 250 opportunities in the pipeline."
John Convery, executive vice president of vendor relations and marketing at Denali Advanced Integration, a top HP partner based in Redmond, Wash., said HP's converged infrastructure conversation is resonating with customers, and HP's commitment to the networking channel has manifested in significant investment behind partners looking to grow their HP Networking practices.
Unlike AdvizeX, Denali is also a Cisco VAR. But HP's partner rewards are richer and Denali leads with HP Networking for most of its customer engagements, Convery said.
"There's no company on the planet that builds as much customer value but also generates great profits for partners," Convery said. "We lead with HP if it's not a brand call."
Convery and Sarazin acknowledged that certain customers prefer Cisco simply because they've dealt with Cisco technologies and equipment for years and are predisposed toward it.
But neutral customers are prime targets for HP gains, they said.
"Customers are buying off on the converged infrastructure design and implementing it based on what their needs are," Sarazin said. "If it's an unbiased evaluation taking place, it's HP that's winning most often."
Banic and Ahmad acknowledged that 2012 is a crucial time for cementing HP's gains in networking, not only for its competitive position against Cisco but also because of the challenge partners have had in dealing with HP's very public morale collapse and executive suite overhaul this year.
Banic said HP would strive to highlight what HP offers versus Cisco, particularly the idea that HP-certified partners can combine front-end and back-end incentives and wind up with in some cases double the discount their Cisco-selling peers are used to.