HP, Microsoft Roll Out Partner Program To Capture Windows Server 2003 End-Of-Life Upgrade Opportunity

With one year until Microsoft pulls the plug on Windows Server 2003 support, Hewlett-Packard is mounting a massive partner-led offensive with the software giant to upgrade a big chunk of the 11.7 million servers still running the 11-year-old operating system.

HP said it is putting its solution provider partners on the front lines of the $10 billion opportunity with what it is calling the HP Microsoft Windows Server 2003 Migration Program.

The program is kicking off exactly one year to the day ahead of when Microsoft formally ends Windows Server 2003 support on July 14, 2015. HP and Microsoft formally rolled out the initiative Monday at Microsoft's Worldwide Partner Conference in Washington D.C.

[Related: Microsoft Reminds Customers It's Ending Some Windows 7 Support Next January]

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HP said the upgrade program is aimed at preventing potentially disastrous security and support issues facing enterprises and even small businesses still using old servers.

The new program provides partners with robust new financial incentives backed up with a comprehensive portfolio of assessment services, tools, training and financing all designed to make sure customers are not caught flat-footed when Windows 2003 support is terminated.

"This program is going to allow channel partners to migrate customers simpler, faster and more profitably than they could with any other vendor," said Doug Oathout, HP's vice president of global marketing, SMB and Alliances For HP.

The security risk posed by the end of life for Windows Server 2003 is considerable, said Oathout. "It could be a disaster of mammoth proportions" given the mission-critical data being stored on Windows Server 2003 systems, he said.

HP estimates that a whopping 60 percent of the customers still running Windows Server 2003 do not have a full migration plan. With that in mind, HP is offering to pay partners for each migration assessment on all qualified deals that are registered in HP's Salesforce.com Unison-based PartnerOne platform. Oathout said the average partner payout will be $3,000 to $5,000 per migration assessment, though some might get as much as $10,000 depending on partner level and opportunity size.

HP's Technology Services team has already put together a toolkit that will enable partners to do the assessments. There will also be new financial incentives and rebates with upsell and cross sell opportunities for all registered Windows Server 2003 upgrades.

The assessments are critical given that many large enterprise customers are not aware of just how many Windows Server 2003 servers and applications they are still running. "Right now IT departments don't have the time or resources to get this done on their own," Oathout said.

NEXT: HP Financial Services Offers Make Upgrades Affordable

HP's standing as the largest OEM for Microsoft assures best-in-class support, services and incentives for partners, said Jim Ganthier, vice president of global initiatives and HP Servers. "We are putting the best and brightest of our teams together so channel partners can take advantage of this huge opportunity," he said.

HP is not only targeting large enterprises with the program, but is also offering HP SMB FlexBundles for specific offerings like Microsoft Exchange, SQL Server and Lync with Microsoft Azure as a cloud backup solution, HP said

HP is also providing partners with new HP Financial Services offers that could be critical as customers grapple with the cost of migrating to new hardware and software platforms.

Leveraging the HP Financial Services offers, a $3 million opportunity to upgrade 600 servers at $4,500 each for a total of $2.7 million with $300,000 in consulting services could be capitalized with a monthly payment of $65,000 or 2.2 percent of the total server and services, said Alan Bowen, director of business development for HP Financial Services.

Another option, Bowen said, is an HP Pre-provisioning Solution that could allow customers to pay only first 20 percent of the servers after 90 days with the rest being paid for as needed over the next 12 months.

Mike Strohl, CEO of Entisys Solutions, a Concord, Calif.-based HP Platinum partner, No. 253 on the 2014 Solution Provider 500, said he sees the HP Microsoft program as a game changer. "The payoff is huge for partners with HP and Microsoft working together with us on this opportunity," he said, noting that all his customers still have Windows Server 2003 systems. "They already have good programs. This just adds to it. I like the way have brought a full program to the table with enablement and financial services. They are way ahead of this from an enablement standpoint."

Security issues surrounding the end of life support for Windows Server 2003 are the basis for a "very relevant foundation" for an upgrade discussion, said Strohl. "When customers realize they are going to be facing serious risk, they are going to start the three to six month upgrade planning cycle," he predicted.

Strohl estimated that 60 percent of his customers will make the move over the next year with the upgrade cycle accelerating in the second and third quarters next year.

Strohl said he sees the Windows Server 2003 effort as much more aggressive than the Windows XP end of life planning. "HP and Microsoft are stepping as partners together on this creating incentives, programs and support that will enable partners and customers to plan properly so that they don't go through a nightmare with this process," he said.