HP's Whitman: 'Either You Are Being Disruptive, Or You Are Being Disrupted'

Meg Whitman

Hewlett-Packard and its channel partners have accomplished much over the past couple years, and will accomplish even more after HP splits into two companies later this year, said the company's top executives at this week's HP Global Partner Conference.

Meg Whitman, chairman, president, and CEO of HP, along with Dominic Orr, president and CEO of Aruba Networks, which is being acquired by HP, made the case on stage that HP must change, and is changing, in response to massive shifts in how customers deploy and use IT.

HP executives laid out their vision of where HP is heading and why it needs the support of channel partners to reach its goals.

[Related: HP's Whitman: Channel Key As HP Splits To Speed Customer Transformation]

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About 70 percent of all HP revenue currently goes through indirect sales partners, Whitman said. "We couldn't [succeed] without you," she said. "And, quite frankly, we wouldn't want to do this without you."

The split of HP into two companies is slated to be complete Nov. 1, which is the first day of HP's fiscal year.

On that day, the enterprise infrastructure part of HP, including its Helion cloud business, will be known as Hewlett-Packard Enterprise. The rest of HP, centered primarily around its printing and PC business, will be known as HP Inc.

Lynn Anderson, senior vice president of demand generation and channel marketing at HP, said the company's channel program also will be divided into two, with the Hewlett-Packard Enterprise program to be known as PartnerReady and the HP Inc. program to get the PartnerFirst moniker.

The benefits to partners of the two programs will remain the same, Anderson said during her Tuesday presentation at the HP Global Partner Conference. "They will be simple," she said. "They will be predictable. They will be profitable."

The two will be tied together, however, under a program called the Partner One Alliance that will allow solution provider partners to benefit from selling solutions including products and services from both companies, Anderson said.

Rich Baldwin, CIO and chief strategy officer at Nth Generation Computing, a San Diego-based solution provider and HP channel partner, told CRN Nth Generation is excited about the HP split as well as the Partner One Alliance program.

Nth Generation has had an enterprise focus but for the past few years has also sold managed print services and is now looking at 3-D printing, Baldwin said. "The [Partner One] Alliance is a great way to tie the two HPs together," he said. "We know if we do business with one, we will not be neglected by the other."

Splitting HP into two parts will help the company and its partners be better prepared to accelerate growth in the face of massive changes in the industry, Whitman said.

HP Inc. will help provide customers with the means to be creative with its PC, mobile device, workstation, and printing solutions and services, Whitman said. Hewlett Packard Enterprise, on the other hand, will help customers deploy and run IT faster, leaner, and at a lower cost than ever before. "We will empower customers to take their IT to where it leads them," she said.

The split also will make it easier for HP and its partners to help customers take advantage of what HP terms the "new style of IT."

The new style of IT includes four major transformations that customers are facing, Whitman said. These include on-demand infrastructure, which requires modernizing workloads to and building infrastructure to support them; protecting digital assets using new big data technologies to increase security; empowering a data-driven enterprise that can find new value from data; and enabling productive workspaces, she said.

This is similar to what other vendors term "modern IT," which includes cloud, security, big data and mobility.

"The new style of IT is about the success or failure of our joint customers in the marketplace," Whitman said. "They need solutions to embrace change [and] manage risk."

Embracing the new style of IT is a key way to embrace change and avoid being disrupted, Whitman said. As an example, she cited the 65 percent drop in taxi cab use in San Francisco over a two-year period due to the rise of Uber. While the taxi cab companies had ample time to respond with their own disruptive technology, they did not respond quickly enough, she said.

"The rule today is, either you are being disruptive, or you are being disrupted," Whitman said.

That rule stood out as one of the key points of how HP is approaching the new style of IT, said Nth Generation CTO Dan Molina.

"This affects everyone -- the manufacturers, the ecosystem, the channel partners and the customers," said Molina. "Customers are struggling to stay relevant. They need help, or the CIOs will be out of a job. They need transformation tied to their needed business outcomes."

When Aruba's Orr joined Whitman on stage, he said his company will help HP's clients with their transformation.

The networking industry is moving away from the old style of IT characterized by a centralized define-and-deploy process that includes no end-user input to the new style of IT where the user states his or her needs and the networking team fills them, Orr said.

With the old style of IT, the deployment and security of networks are broken, Orr said. "We give you the opportunity to put Humpty Dumpty back together again," he said.

About 95 percent of Aruba's revenue comes from channel partners, and the "airheads," as Aruba personnel are known, are looking for ways to use HP and its channel to build new solutions and bring those solutions to wider global markets, Orr said.

The combination of HP and Aruba will be an opportunity to compete with archrival Cisco, Whitman said without actually citing that company by name. "Our mutual objective is to be a better competitor against a five-letter competitor," she said.

Nth Generation's Baldwin said he is looking forward to the finalization of HP's acquisition of Aruba, and is already getting set up as an Aruba partner.

"Dominic is a high-energy guy," he said. "He was very inspirational."