HPE CEO Neri: We Want To Drive More Business 'With And Through' Partners

Hewlett Packard Enterprise CEO Antonio Neri Monday told several thousand attendees at the company's Global Partner Summit 2018 kickoff session that he is committed to doing more business "with and through" partners in the future.

"This has been a company that has been built with our partners," said Neri in a question and answer session with HPE Worldwide Channel Chief Paul Hunter at the general session at the Sands Expo convention center. "It is a partner led company. We continue to be that way. We are not changing that strategy. If anything we want to do more with you, through you. I always say I consider you as part of my sales force."

[Related: HPE Discover 2018 Coverage ]

In his first appearance at Global Partner Summit since becoming CEO on Feb. 1, Neri said he is commited to giving partners the same sales training as HPE's direct sales force. "Whatever I do to train my sales people – whether you are an account manager, pre-sales or solution architect- I am treating you the exact same way," he told partners. At the recent HPE Aspire technical conference 30 percent of the attendees were partners.

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That commitment to making partners an extension of the sales force was on full display at the Global Partner Summit with HPE unveiling HPE GreenLake Flex Capacity – a channel model breakthrough that opens the door for partners to sell on premises HPE infrastructure in a pay per use model. The public cloud busting compensation backed by HPE Pointnext provides partners with a whopping five times the rebate incentive that they would get in a traditional Capex deal.

Neri said GreenLake Flex Capacity is a great example of HPE innovating not just on the technology front, but with business models. "Today it is not just about the technology," he told partners. "It is about the economic value that we will bring with you."

Neri said he is also committed to making it simpler for partners to engage with HPE. "We know today we still have a lot of friction in the system," he said. "That is why we are making a significant investment to simplify our company."

That simplification means improving "the processes and systems" with regard to how partners do business with HPE. "Over the next nine quarters, you are going to see a tremendous amount of change in the way we engage with you and the way we drive the business," Neri told partners.

HPE Chief Sales Officer Phil Davis, who outlined the company's high growth, high margin sales strategy, told partners that he would like to drive HPE's total sales through partners from 70 percent to 80 percent. "My aspiration- my goal- is to get us to more than 80 percent through the channel everywhere in the world," said Davis to loud applause from partners.

The 80 percent drive comes off a first half of the fiscal year in which HPE sales through partners were up 27 percent adding $277 million in sales to the company, said Hunter.

Overall HPE grew in the first six months of its fiscal year at more than $1 billion (from $13.71 billion to $15.1 billion), said Hunter. "That's more than NetApp, more than Nutanix, more than Pure (Storage), more than Cisco, more than the four of them combined," said Hunter.

In fact, Hunter displayed a rolling list of partners throughout the world that grew by more than $1 million – doubling their business in the first half of the year. "It's a long list," he said. "I'd like to thank you all….Together we are changing the world."

Partners, for their part, said they see HPE out-innovating and delivering flat out better economics than competitors.

"There is no one that is innovating more or partnering better than HPE," said Rich Baldwin, chief strategy officer at Nth Generation Computing, one of HPE's top enterprise partners headquartered in San Diego, Calif. "They have the best product portfolio they have ever had. They are head and shoulders above everyone else."

Baldwin said Nth Generation is particularly pumped up about the ability to drive the on premises pay per use infrastructure with HPE GreenLake Flex Capacity. "We see GreenLake as having huge growth potential for us," he said. "We can now make great money and have control of the account. Basically we are getting paid everything up front as if we just made a massive hardware sales."

Nth Generation, in fact, recently closed a $1.2 million, three year GreenLake Flex Capacity deal with a hospital at a 20 percent plus margin, said Baldwin. That GreenLake deal involved the company's CEO and board of directors, said Baldwin.

"This deal is giving that customer the ability to adapt their infrastructure in real time," he said. "It’s the right thing for the
customer. It's easy for the customer to fund this as an ongoing operating expense as opposed to having to get a capital investment approved. This is a massive opportunity. This is better for both customers and partners."

Ron Nemecek, business alliance manager for OnX, a CBTS company, a top HPE enterprise partner, called GreenLake Flex Capacity an "innovative game changer" for customers and partners. "We are not talking about what is the next intelligent edge device or what is the next processor," he said. "We are talking about true business outcomes with customers. These are things that really matter to them: how they get compensated and deliver services to their customers, how they innovate in their organizations. This is what customers need from us. They don't need another widget. They need something that is going to help them change their business in a way they have never been able to change before."

The GreenLake model, in fact, is opening the door for customers to utilize resources and capital to drive competitive advantage rather than on IT systems, said Nemecek.

Pat O'Connor, senior director of business alliances for OnX, said GreenLake Flex Capacity strikes at the heart of what customers are demanding in a pay per use world. "This is what customers are asking for," he said. "This is what customers are telling us will produce better business outcomes for them."