Solution Providers: HP Is Upping The Server Ante Against IBM, Cisco

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Hewlett-Packard is taking a more aggressive stance against the server business of rivals IBM and Cisco Systems.

HP solution provider partners told CRN that the vendor, which had been walking away from some competitive opportunities for its industry-standard server (ISS) business by pulling back on aggressive pricing, is again willing and ready to help partners win deals they had been forced to leave.

That includes asking partners to bring HP all competitive ISS opportunities for possible action, and providing a 10 percent up-front target incentive for competitive install base accounts, said Rich Baldwin, CIO and chief strategy officer at Nth Generation Computing, a San Diego-based solution provider and longtime HP channel partner.

[Related: Gartner Q4 Server Shipment Data: HP Beats Dell Again]

Baldwin said he is not sure this is actually a formal program, but it is in step with other moves HP is making to build its server and storage business.

Cisco with its UCS server line has become HP's biggest enemy and is a fierce competitor willing to provide customers with a free UCS chassis to get started, Baldwin said.

"At last month's VMware Partner Exchange, VMware talked about its federated partners, including EMC and Cisco," he said. "From that point of view, HP has to keep an eye on Cisco, which is building more and more parts of the data center."

Meanwhile, much of IBM's x86 server business is in transition to be sold to Lenovo, making it easy for HP to talk to IBM customers about their server requirements, Baldwin said.

An extra 10 percent in margin to go after such server business is a pretty big incentive on top of the other margin opportunities, including a 5 percent new business bonus, Baldwin said.

Changes in Cisco's relationship with its large technology partners such as EMC and VCE provide opportunities for HP's server business, said Bob Venero, CEO of Future Tech, a Holbrook, N.Y.-based solution provider and HP partner.

Among those are the Project Mystic collaboration between EMC and VMware to build a converged appliance, a move which calls Cisco's relationship with EMC and VMware in the VCE joint venture into question, Venero said.

"VMware creates Mystic with EMC, and where's Cisco?" he said. "If I'm Cisco, I'm thinking, 'What's going on?' "

NEXT: New Server Opportunities


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