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Recruiting Blitz: HPE Rolls Out Red Carpet For Anxious Dell-EMC Partners

Steven Burke

Hewlett Packard Enterprise is using its Discover Conference in Las Vegas this week to not only showcase its biggest technology breakthroughs, but also to bring anxious Dell-EMC partners into the HPE fold.

As part of the Discover Conference, which runs from June 7-9 at the Venetian Palazzo, HPE has invited several hundred Dell-EMC partners to private meetings, product demonstrations and dinners -- all aimed at getting those partners to sell the HPE product portfolio.

The HPE program, which internally is called Smart Choice, includes special accommodations so partners can move into the HPE channel program at the same level they are at with Dell-EMC.

"We have a very good program at Discover where we are welcoming all those [Dell-EMC] partners and we'll tell them the benefits of partnering with us," said HPE CEO Meg Whitman in an interview with CRN. "Those EMC partners are worried about how much R&D EMC is going to get in the future. And EMC has grown through acquisitions. Trust me, there is not going to be any capital available for acquisitions for a while."

[Related: HPE CEO Meg Whitman On The CSC Deal, Beating Cisco, Recruiting Dell-EMC Partners And Why VMware Becomes 'Almost Irrelevant']

Whitman's comments come on the heels of Dell's offering of $20 billion in bonds last month -- above the $16 billion initially planned -- to finance the $67 billion acquisition of EMC and VMware, the largest merger in IT history. Dell has plans to take on as much as $49.5 billion in debt to finance the acquisition.

Whitman has drawn a sharp contrast between HPE's move to drive more innovation as a smaller and more nimble company while Dell is moving to get bigger and take on debt.

"They have got a lot of sorting out to do and a lot of cost takeout," said Whitman of Dell-EMC. "You have to think of them, I think, in many ways as being owned by private equity so it is a cost takeout play. That actually may be good from a financial perspective. We'll see how good it is for partners."

Several EMC partners, who did not want to be identified, said they are anxious to get closer to HPE because of the potential disruption both with Dell-EMC product portfolio integration and with the potential for channel conflict and confusion in the field once Dell moves to integrate EMC and VMware.

"All the EMC shops are open for discussions," said an EMC partner, who did not want to be identified. "HPE is definitely more focused and stable. There have been a lot of changes at EMC. We don't even know who our EMC channel rep is. They change so much that we can't keep up with it. From a solution provider perspective, there is a lot of confusion around Dell, EMC, VMware. You have to make it easy for your clients to make buying decisions and you can't do that with the craziness and confusion around the Dell-EMC merger."

Another top executive for an EMC enterprise partner, who did not want to be identified, said there is a lot of channel "fear, uncertainty and doubt" around the Dell-EMC union. "We are worried about turnover in the field and how this deal is going to affect our Cisco sales," said the executive.

The top executive said it is critical to have a strong relationship with HPE to drive sales growth in a market where Dell-EMC is likely to be dealing with channel conflict issues in the wake of the merger. "Dell-EMC needs to make sure that customers don't use Dell-EMC direct sales reps as a battering ram to drive down prices," said the executive.


EMC and Dell would not comment on HPE's recruiting efforts.

A big part of the HPE recruitment strategy is centered on the success HPE is having with its partners in the all-flash storage market where partners are finding a faster and more robust all-flash solution in the form of HPE 3Par StoreServ.

"The question is: Does a Dell-EMC reseller want to be sitting back and missing the all-flash hyper-converged transformation opportunities right now while they are waiting to figure out which platform should I lead with? What is my partner program going to be? Who is my sales rep?" said Brad Parks, director of Go To Market and Enablement for HPE Storage.

HPE is five years into its all-flash storage modernization offensive, while Dell-EMC is at the starting gate, asserted Parks. "They are day one into that rationalization and modernization journey as Dell-EMC," he said. "We are five years into it as HPE and we have one solid bet on the all-flash front from low to high with 3Par. We're outpacing market growth by 2X and we're the only major vendor to gain [storage] share in the last two years. We are clearly ahead of the curve on the all-flash front and the software-defined front."

Vish Mulchand, senior director of product management and marketing for HPE Storage, said he sees Dell-EMC partners as ripe for the picking with the all-flash storage transformation coinciding with the Dell-EMC merger. "It's a godsend," he said. "Not only are customers looking to refresh their [storage] environments, they are also looking to refresh their vendor. High-performance, high-end customers are very nervous about this merger. They are concerned with whether they are going to continue to see the same enterprise focus."

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