Partners: New HPE Storage Exec Appointment Could Boost Enterprise Account Engagement

Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) has named Nimble's former sales chief, Keegan Riley, as the vice president and general manager of the North America storage business. That opens the door for tighter storage alignment with partners in enterprise accounts.

Partners see the appointment as a sign of HPE's channel commitment given the recent 100 percent pledge to run all of newly acquired Nimble and SimpliVity's sales through partners. They are hoping the 100 percent channel commitment will trickle up into enterprise accounts.

[Related: Partners: HPE's 100 Percent SimpliVity-Nimble Partner Pledge Is A Game Changer]

Before taking the top Americas storage job, Riley spent five years as vice president of sales for Nimble and four years as a district manager for enterprise accounts for the HPE storage division.

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John Kolimago, executive vice president and general manager of cloud solutions for Anexinet of Blue Bell, Pa., No. 209 on the 2017 CRN Solution Provider 500, said the Riley appointment could definitely increase partner engagement in enterprise accounts. He said Riley's appointment should "energize" the enterprise storage sales charge.

"It's no secret that this guy had 100 percent channel strategy at Nimble and now HPE is embracing that," said Kolimago. "This is a leadership move that could trickle into enterprise accounts which would benefit all partners … There will absolutely be a benefit. If you are convincing customers that it is 100 percent channel for Nimble and SimpliVity, Synergy, 3Par and other products are going to ride along with that. This is going to benefit partners across the whole portfolio."

The 100 percent Nimble and SimpliVity pledge sends a no-holds-barred message to the field that HPE reps must engage with partners, said Kolimago. "For an HPE rep that is used to equivocating and making exceptions they have to learn the talk track to say to their customers: 'This is 100 percent channel," he said. "That rep has to learn the language of 'I respect your desire as a customer, but partners are going to give you the best support and deal.'"

Kolimago said Riley's leadership will be critical to getting the "rank and file" to fall in behind the 100 percent channel commitment.

The Nimble acquisition has opened up the small and midsized business storage market to partners, said Kolimago. "Bringing Nimble technology into HPE completes the missing link in the HPE storage portfolio," he said. "SMB is the growth engine for all of IT right now. So many partners get caught up in maintaining their top three customers. The partners that are going to win are going to be the ones that get new logos. Nimble is a foot in the door offering that is priced right and far better performing than the competition."

Steve Hilts, a managing partner at Snowcap Technologies, one of HPE's top Platinum partners, hopes the 100 percent pledge will lead to tighter alignment between HP direct sales reps and partners in enterprise accounts. That alignment would result in a dramatic increase next generation software defined infrastructure sales for HPE and its partners, said Hilts.

"If [HPE CEO] Meg [Whitman] can focus on that 100 percent pledge in enterprise accounts, it could result in a huge increase in sales for HPE and its partners," said Hilts. "We are competing with Dell EMC and we need a 100 percent focus with the channel."

Chris Case, CEO of Sequel Data Systems, an Austin, Texas-based solution provider and HPE channel partner, said he is also hopeful the recent 100 percent Nimble and SimpliVity channel commitment will result in stronger HPE enterprise field account engagement. "We would love to see that 100 percent pledge trickle into enterprise accounts," said Chase. "That would be beneficial to both HPE and us."