Partners: HPE Tech Pro Community Is Driving Big Sales Gains


Hewlett Packard Enterprise partners say the company's big investment in building out an army of tens of thousands of elite solution architects focused on selling business outcomes rather than speeds and feeds is driving robust sales gains.

That focus on sharing knowledge and insight on business outcomes with the Tech Pro Community initiative – which is being rolled out globally to all of HPE's partners this week- has broken the traditional speed and feed product logjam that has hindered the channel for many years, said HPE partners.

"Being a member of Tech Pro Community has lifted us out of speeds and feeds into solutions selling," said Matthew Winder, an HPE business partner solutions architect for Datacom, the HPE Platinum partner headquartered in New Zealand. "It's an awesome community of presales architects sharing knowledge and ideas with programs and training that have given us more confidence in selling HPE solutions."

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That "confidence" has raised the technology solutions bar at Datacom, helping drive a 35 percent increase in HPE solutions over the last year, said Winder, who was one of 200 technologists at the recent HPE Technology and Solutions summit in Bangkok.

"It's definitely translating into sales growth," he said. "It gives us the power to go out and sell at a higher level. No longer is our role focused on speeds and feeds. It's more about how can we help a business achieve an outcome and how we can provide a solution that makes a business better."

In fact, the Tech Pro training has helped drive a robust GreenLake pay per use pipeline and a GreenLake win last November, said Winder. "The ability for us to provide a solution to a business problem with GreenLake and then allow the business to consume it as a service is changing the game," he said.

The recent Datacom GreenLake win was for a three-year deal that is more attractive to the customer because of the monthly pay-per-use model. It's also more profitable for Datacom with a hefty up front rebate and recurring revenue over the life of the contract. "The profitability is huge," said Winder. "We have gone from a margin dump at the beginning of a capex deal into earning margin through the three years of the deal."

Under the stepped-up Tech Pro Community initiative, solution provider presales architects are treated as an extension of the HPE technology community with technical and solutions exchanges in a vibrant community forum, said partners. That community forum provides quick and easy answers on business and technology issues in a collaborative environment."It make us feel like we are part of the HPE family," said Winder. "We get access to everything the HPE guys do.The engagement with HPE has improved 100 fold with the Tech Pro Community. It's amazing!"

In one case, Datacom presales associates were working an SAP HANA project evaluating various options. "We wanted to know if what the customer was asking for was achievable," said Winder. "After asking a few questions, we figured out it was, but we had to change the platform we were offering to Superdome Flex rather than the DL580 converged platform."

HPE Global Channel Chief Paul Hunter, who introduced the Tech Pro Community at HPE's Technology Solutions Summit in Paris, said HPE's channel DNA has given the company the muscle to build a single technical community for HPE and partner solution architects.

"Because it has been core to our DNA and the company for a long period of time it is not difficult to encourage that," said Hunter. "If it is not in your DNA it is quite difficult to really extend the degree of transparency and trust to partners."

Hunter complimented HPE Vice President of Worldwide Presales and Presales Operations Michael Pilbeam for leading the Tech Pro Community partner solution architect charge. "To me that speaks volumes," he said. "Because it is one thing for the partner sales organization wanting to do that it is another thing when essentially the leader of our entire presales organization treats our partner's presales teams as an extension on his own."

Brian Beneda, senior manager, global technical enablement for HPE, said HPE is focused on moving its 60,000 best of the best partner solution architects into the Tech Pro community.

"These are the deep technology experts that translate customer business requirements into technical solutions to achieve customer business outcomes," said Beneda. "They not only have technology skills, but they have got a set of business skills too. They translate back and forth between the business and technology worlds and they have deep intimacy across servers, storage and networking so they can do an end to end solution for customer."

Paul O'Dell, a director at CPP Associates Inc., Clinton, New Jersey, one of HPE's top enterprise Platinum partners, said being part of the Tech Pro Community has helped CPP shine the spotlight on its breakthrough Infrastructure Anywhere Assessments.

Those Infrastructure Anywhere Assessments – which are aimed at determining where workloads should reside either on premise or off premise- helped drive 80 percent growth for CPP on the HPE value portfolio in 2018 and 100 percent growth on that value HPE portfolio in the first fiscal quarter, said O'Dell.

"We've done 27 of these Infrastructure Anywhere assessments and almost every single one has turned out to be the same: on premise done correctly is always less expensive than off premise done correct," O'Dell said. "It's a runaway landslide if off premise is done incorrectly. The savings of 50-75 percent are very realistic What we tell our customers is; 'We believe in company first, but not cloud first. I can assure you that is in their best interest to have us do one of these studies.'"

The Infrastructure Anywhere assessment – which is based on a several week drill down analysis of a customer's IT systems and environment- includes data collection for target workloads with comparisons between public cloud infrastructure costs and on premise HPE costs. "We are not talking about products with the Infrastructure Anywhere assessments, we are talking about strategy," said O'Dell. "Seventy five percent of those assessments have led to sales within six months. One hundred percent of them have led to budgeted initiatives for 2019."

One of the Infrastructure Anywhere Assessments that has been highlighted as part of the Tech Pro Academy initiative is a Post University virtual desktop solution. The SimpliVity solution that Post University adopted resulted in a 50 percent savings versus a public cloud solution, said O'Dell.

"Tech Pro Academy as a venue to share and highlight success stories is very, very powerful," said ODell. "We see it becoming just this unbelievable forum for people to share success stories, best practices and real world TCO's (total cost of ownership). I think HPE is going to catch lightning in a bottle with this and hopefully the 80 percent growth we had last year is double that this year."

A big part of the problem in the public cloud versus private cloud debate is that public cloud providers are not taking into account the financial benefits of an HPE software defined solution powered by HPE OneView and InfoSight predictive analytics, said O'Dell. "When you compare AWS versus an HPE software defined infrastructure that is where you get the 65-70 percent savings," he said.

Another breakthrough solution highlighted as part of the Tech Pro Academy community is an innovative Synergy composable infrastructure/HPE OneView solution for Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady Health System (FMOL). That solution- the first Synergy composable infrastructure put into a production environment in North America – was pulled together by Mainline Information Systems,an HPE Platinum partner headquartered in Tallahassee, Fla, in close collaboration with some of HPE's top Synergy technical talent.

That FMOL Synergy solution- the result of 15 Mainline engineers visiting HPE Labs well before the product was launched- has cut hypervisor patch times for FMOL from 65 hours to two hours and reduced new implementation times from 40 hours to three hours.

"I've been working with HPE products for 30 years and their technology vision and what they drive to the partner community has been better than any other company," said Thomas Gardner, an HPE strategic technologist for Mainline Information Systems.

As part of Tech Pro Academy, Mainline recently put together five storage sales teasers for its YouTube channel highlighting the solutions muscle of Mainline and HPE.

HPE has been out in front of all of the major technology paradigm shifts, said Gardner, with the HPE continuing to raise the innovation bar with acquisitions like Plexxi- a composable mesh network fabric that is now available on SimpliVity. "That is visionary," said Gardner."When you look at leveraging the Plexxi technology into the well established, top of the line HPE product landscape it is just perfect."

Another HPE "home run" is InfoSight software which is driving predictive analytics and AI across the HPE portfolio. That has eliminated a raft of level one and level two support costs, said Gardner. "It's a massive opex savings for customers," he said. "That gets customers looking at how they can be productive in other places."

HPE's strategy to make InfoSight pervasive in the data center sets the company apart from competitors, said Gardner. "You have to ask yourself: who else is doing something like this and brings a tool like this to customers with all of its different facets?" asked Gardner."There is really nobody else. There are a conglomeration of bolted-on solutions."

Gardner credited HPE CEO Antonio Neri as a "visionary" who has combined HPE's product portfolio with outstanding acquisitions to deliver a cohesive software defined framework. "It's been great to see HPE move above the hardware infrastructure conversation with tools like OneView, OneSphere, InfoSight and Plexxi moving to a composable cloud solution," he said. "We continue to invest time, money and resources into HPE. That is driven by a continued demonstration by HPE fulfilling what our enterprise customers are demanding. That touches on technology, affordability, performance, consistency, stability, all the key pillars of creating an IT environment that gives customers confidence and helps us sustain our growth model."