HPE Channel Leader: Hybrid, IoT, World-Class Services Will Drive Partner Success

HPE's three-pronged strategy to drive partner growth involves promoting hybrid IT, building out its Internet of Things portfolio, and then offering world-class services that lean on and enable partners, Terry Richardson, vice president for HPE's North America Channels & Alliances, told partners Monday.

The Palo Alto, Calif.-based tech behemoth is first off looking to facilitate both private and public infrastructure, Richardson said at a breakout session of The Channel Company's 2017 Best of Breed Conference in Atlanta.

"We're focused on hybrid IT. We believe the world will be hybrid. That's the bet we're making," Richardson told attendees. He added, "AWS has a different view of the world."

[Related: Best of Breed 2017 Conference]

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The "IoT revolution" is creating new opportunities for HPE and many of its business partners "at the intelligent edge," he said. "We expect to have just at much spend outside the datacenter as there is today in the data center."

However, it is "world class" services that will make those two prior strategic goals translate to a successful business, he added.

"It's not to compete with partners," Richardson told a room of solution providers here, most of them already aligned with HPE.

Instead, the company recognizes partners cannot "invest in everything and have to make their own bets." The vendor is cultivating a "stable of experts" to help drive their success, he said.

HPE CEO Meg Whitman, who spoke at the BoB Conference just hours earlier, "has turned around the financial architecture of our company," Richardson said. That includes major investments in research and development.

Moreover, under Whitman's leadership, there's been a significant focus on expanding partnerships, he said.

The company is now simplifying its go-to-market operations through HPE NEXT, an initiative that's sharpening focus on the core strategy. A key component is to "really make sure that we become easier doing business with you from an operations standpoint," Richardson told partners.

The NEXT initiative represents one of the last hurdles "to making us become the kind of company we really strive to be," he said.

Many solution providers came into the HPE ecosystem through a number of acquisitions executed in recent years, which delivered not just leading technologies, but sales and technical talent. Those acquisitions also represent some of the largest partner opportunities with the vendor.

Hyper-converged infrastructure is one of the most significant opportunities in the market, which HPE is driving through its SimpliVity acquisition, he said.

HPE SimpliVity offers an excellent way for partners to deliver savings to customers without taking them to the public cloud, Richardson said, adding the hyper-converged appliances can achieve half the cost of comparable AWS solutions.

"Despite what you may have heard from AWS, you do not have to go to the public cloud to dramatically change the economics of the data center," he said.

While HPE's hyper-converged offerings involve a strong relationship with VMware, the company is "also looking to the future," he said. There's clearly a lot of value in the hyper-converged space around containers, and HPE is also working closely with Docker.

HPE's storage suite pulls the best from its 3PAR and Nimble acquisitions, creating another strong partner opportunity. And Aruba's wireless networking capabilities also deliver assets that can drive partner practices.

On the server side, the recently unveiled Gen 10 servers are changing the playing field.

HPE ships about five servers a minute, complementing and refreshing an installed base of 40 million units.

However, Gen 10 servers are not just about introducing the latest-and-greatest processors, he said. "It's really addressing a critical need in the industry, and it's around security," Richardson told partners, describing those servers as the world's most secure, with defense-measures implemented at the silicon level.

The extensive portfolio is complemented by Synergy, he said, "the ultimate hybrid IT platform" for defining infrastructure.

VeriStor Systems first partnered with HPE about five years ago, after the 3PAR deal, said Ashby Lincoln, the solution provider's founder and CEO.

The Duluth, Ga.-headquartered company's first 10 years saw no HP relationship, and VeriStor leaders weren't pleased when it looked like that would change due to their 3PAR relationship.

"We were very pessimistic about that. Because we had competed against HP for a long time as a bunch of ex-EMCers," Lincoln told his colleagues during the session.

But the experience as an HPE partner has changed that attitude, and much of the change of heart is due to the "integrity of the partner program," Lincoln said.

"If you are in an account with them and they say that you're good to go, then you're good to go," he said. HPE partners do not waste time thinking their vendor is trying to take their deals direct, he said.

Meg Whitman is clear, "at least to everyone who knows her, on what her position is on the channel," Lincoln said. That means partners can focus entirely on building relationships with prospects and helping them select architectures and technologies.

That is the reason that VeriStor's HPE business has gone from roughly $13 million five years ago, to $70 million today. At the same time, the Dell business has fallen to about $3 million, "and it has everything to do with partner etiquette."

The solution provider, which initially focused on storage but has since expanded to compute and networking, is going to keep investing in its HPE practice, with sights set on the $100 million mark, he said.

In today's IT landscape, these vendor relationships matter more than ever.

"It is a very complicated time. We have to all be dependent on good partnerships because that is the core of how we can all be successful," Lincoln said.