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HP Partners Frustrated With Slow Pace Of Autonomy Rollout

Kevin McLaughlin

As the one-year anniversary of Hewlett-Packard's Autonomy acquisition nears, HP has yet to begin selling Autonomy products through its channel partners, fueling frustration among the company's partner ranks.

HP partners are especially interested in Autonomy's Intelligent Data Operating Layer, a search and data processing technology that is built into many Autonomy products. IDOL, which also is available as a stand-alone server, analyzes streams of so-called unstructured data -- i.e., emails, voice, video and social media -- to identify patterns of meaning.

IDOL is considered the most strategic asset HP, Palo Alto, Calif., gained from its $10.3 billion acquisition of Autonomy last August. Yet as of today, not all HP partners are authorized to sell IDOL and other Autonomy products.

"The short answer is no: At this time, not every HP partner is authorized to sell Autonomy," Stephen Reny, senior vice president of market development for Autonomy, told CRN last week.

According to Reny, HP authorizes and enables partners to sell Autonomy based on their areas of technology expertise and focus. This measured approach, he said, ensures that customers receive a top-notch support experience and helps HP match the right partners with the appropriate Autonomy products.

"We absolutely plan to expand our partner base but we need to do this sensibly -- by evaluating which partners are right for which solutions," Reny told CRN.

[Related: HP Shuffles Autonomy Leadership, Departed Execs Cite Stifling Bureaucracy ]

Still, even partners that have obtained authorization to sell Autonomy say HP has not provided the necessary sales, support and implementation training to get them up to speed. And without this sort of enablement, partners say they're stuck in a holding pattern with Autonomy, fielding customer inquiries but unable to turn these into sales.

"We are authorized to sell Autonomy and are committed to getting enabled, but we are looking for some direction on the enablement piece," said Brandon Harris, vice president of HP Solutions at Farmington Hills, Mich.-based Logicalis, one of HP's largest North American enterprise partners, in an interview last week.

One HP partner with a burgeoning big data practice told CRN he isn't being granted full access to Autonomy's portfolio, which he finds puzzling since HP executives spent the first few months of the year touting IDOL as a game-changer in the space.

"We want to represent the solutions that Autonomy brings, but HP is not allowing partners to sign business development agreements featuring all of the Autonomy solution sets," said the solution provider, who is one of HP's top Enterprise Servers, Storage and Networking (ESSN) partners. "I thought we would be able to sell Autonomy by now."

NEXT: HP Going Back To Drawing Board With Autonomy?


There are signs that HP is still trying to figure out how to sell Autonomy through the channel. In a town hall meeting with partners last month, Randy Seidl, senior vice president and general manager of HP's U.S. Enterprise Group, said HP had identified a number of "stovepipe" businesses in the Autonomy product portfolio, which includes security and compliance, backup and recovery, content management and online advertising offerings.

The message, according to one partner who attended the event, was that HP is not going to be offering the entire Autonomy portfolio to the channel and will instead focus on a smaller subset of products.

"It sounded to me like [HP is] going back to the drawing board on Autonomy," said the solution provider, who is also a large ESSN partner. "It seems as though Autonomy was basically a consulting organization that would go in and write code, but it wasn't really a repeatable product."

One possible explanation for the slow rollout is that until recently Autonomy did not have a dedicated channel chief. Reny, who took on this role about six weeks ago, is putting together a worldwide channel program for Autonomy. HP also plans to align Autonomy with its PartnerOne and AllianceOne programs.

"Autonomy will have access to the HP go-to-market machine," Reny told CRN. "This is part of the strategic plan and we are having discussions about it."

In a January interview with CRN, HP CEO Meg Whitman said HP would open up its distribution system to Autonomy products this year. However, Reny declined to comment on whether HP is still on track to meet this goal.

Autonomy's roots are primarily in direct sales, but since the HP acquisition there has been a marked shift toward a more channel-centric culture, according to one longtime partner of both vendors.

That shift coincided with the departure of Autonomy co-founder and CEO Mike Lynch and most of his executive team, said the partner, who requested anonymity.

"The Autonomy management that was in place wanted to keep running Autonomy with a direct sales model. Now, in short order, Autonomy is embracing the channel," the partner told CRN.

When HP revealed its acquisition of Autonomy last August, HP said the technology would give it "the ability to reinvent the $55 billion business analytics software and services space". So far, HP's most notable move with Autonomy has been to integrate IDOL with its Data Protection 7 backup and recovery software.

If HP is going to achieve its goals for Autonomy, and see a return from its investment, getting IDOL server and other products into the channel would seem a logical next step.

PUBLISHED JULY 9, 2012

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