HPE Aims To Grab Server Share With ‘Inner Circle’ ProLiant Server Sales Blitz

HPE gathers top partners and distributors for a high-level strategy session aimed at driving ProLiant sales gains.


Hewlett Packard Enterprise has its sights set on server market-share gains with an aggressive North American ProLiant sales blitz.

This week, the server kingpin’s North America team gathered 41 of its top partners and distributors at the Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn & Spa for a high-level “Inner Circle” ProLiant strategy session aimed at driving ProLiant sales gains from the SMB to the midmarket to the enterprise.

The strong partner showing at the HPE ProLiant Partner Inner Circle Summit came even as Dell EMC held its Dell EMC Technology World conference in Las Vegas at the same time.

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[RELATED: HPE ProLiant Pricing Slashed In SMB Server Share Grab]

“We are very much leaning in and making the right investments to result in share gains and displacements of other vendors,” said HPE Vice President North America Hybrid IT Compute Leslie Maher, who called for partners at the summit to “seize” the ProLiant opportunity. “We have seen that pay off in the first half. We have won some new customers as a result of our more aggressive posture.”

The HPE Inner Circle ProLiant Summit comes just four weeks after HPE slashed its Smart Buy Express ProLiant server pricing —its biggest price cut on the ready-to-ship ProLiant offerings in years. HPE also recently relaunched new aggressively priced versions of the SMB workhorse ProLiant DL160 and the build-to-order DL180 servers as part of an SMB market- share grab.

“We’re really being much more competitive than we were last year,” said Maher, the driving force behind the ProLiant partner Inner Circle Summit.

The ProLiant sales charge includes a commitment to lean in and compete aggressively for new logos and competitive displacements, said Maher. That means a more aggressive HPE stance on special-bid pricing decisions. “We’re looking at any opportunity that requires an investment, and we make a decision on the spot,” she said.

Maher encouraged partners to bring those new logo and competitive displacement deals to the table. “We want to take a look at every opportunity and make a strategic decision,” she said.

HPE North America Channel Chief Terry Richardson, for his part, told partners the aim is quite simply to take the No. 1 share position in any and all market segments including SMB.

“Where we are not No. 1, we aspire to be No. 1,” said Richardson. “You should see a different HPE moving forward—one that is very aggressive in pursuit of new on-prem and hybrid infrastructure business. That is one of the messages we want you to leave here with today. We are in the business to fight and win.”

The 41 partners who were singled out for participation in the Summit are those “most capable” of helping HPE move the market-share needle in compute, said Richardson. That needle goes beyond the “‘value” segment into the transactional business, said Richardson “Make no mistake,” he said. “We are in the infrastructure business.”

HPE partners at the event predicted double-digit sales growth powered by ProLiant innovations, including the robust security features on the servers led by HPE’s “silicon root of trust.” That silicon root of trust provides malware detection and firmware recovery built into the ProLiant silicon.

Partners also singled out HPE’s InfoSight artificial intelligence software on ProLiant—which is being adopted by customers at a breakneck pace—as a huge ProLiant game-changer along with GreenLake pay-per-use and new partnerships, including ones with Nutanix and Google Cloud.

Al Chien, president of Dasher Technologies, one of Silicon Valley's top systems integrators, No. 161 on the 2018 CRN Solution Provider 500, said his goal is to grow the ProLiant business by 20 percent in the wake of the more aggressive HPE compute sales charge. “There’s a lot of market opportunity with ProLiant,” he said. “We are just scratching the surface. We are going back into every customer that we collectively lost a year ago and trying to win that business back.”

Key to that stepped-up sales charge is HPE’s breakthrough “silicon root of trust” functionality, said Chien. “That should be resonating with customers at both the SMB and enterprise levels,” he said. “We just have to get out and tell the story more and do it more effectively—telling that story on why silicon root of trust is important to the end users to protect their IT environments.”

As part of the Dasher ProLiant sales charge, Chien said he is going to set up a sales training session on HPE’s silicon root of trust and the “power” of InfoSight on ProLiant. What’s more, he said, Dasher is looking to tap into new market development funds (MDF) to drive ProLiant sales campaigns.

Chien credited Maher, Richardson and HPE Vice President of Hybrid Cloud Paula Doebel for leading the ProLiant sales renaissance. “They value the relationships with channel partners,” he said. “This Summit speaks volumes about HPE’s commitment to the channel.”

Felise Katz, CEO of PKA Technologies., an HPE Platinum partner, said HPE’s focus on ProLiant security addresses the No. 1 issue facing customers: securing their infrastructure. “HPE is the only company that has security from the BIOS level all the way up the stack to protect customers against any kind of breach,” she said. “It is phenomenal. I love that HPE is finally getting this message out. We need to drive this [security story] to all our customers.”

John Iacone, founder and CEO of International Integrated Solutions, Plainview N.Y., No. 105 on the 2018 CRN Solution Provider 500, said he aims to drive ProLiant sales growth by 20 percent with a focus on the security advantages of the portfolio. “I don’t think in the field we are driving the advantage that ProLiant has in the security space,” he said. “HPE made that point very clear. I am going to drive our teams to really understand that differentiation.”

Far too often, server decisions in the sales trenches come down to price rather than security capabilities, said Iacone. “Why wouldn’t a customer pay a few hundred bucks more for a product that provides much better protection?” he asked. “It’s not about money at that point. We have to learn how to sell that.”

Joe Vaught, the owner of PCPC Direct, Houston, one of HPE’s top ProLiant partners, said he expects to grow his ProLiant business by 30 percent this year, powered by the HPE renewed ProLiant sales charge.

Vaught said he sees the GreenLake pay-per-use platform as a ProLiant game-changer. “GreenLake is a killer opportunity for partners,” he said. “It’s fantastic for customers and partners. My biggest competitor right now is the public cloud. Customers go to the cloud because they can order 30 machines and get them set up in a couple of hours. With GreenLake, the additional capacity is already there all you have to do is flip it on. If you have to do a change order, you turn it on. That is faster than the cloud. It is easier than the cloud, it is on-premise and it is [ProLiant] Gen10 servers. It’s a no-brainer.”

HPE’s ProLiant security capabilities and partner commitment are unmatched, said Vaught. “For a salesperson, the ProLiant security story is everything,” he said. “The hackers are coming at you every way possible. What we have to do is sell the security capabilities.”

Vaught also credited Maher and Richardson for driving the no-holds-barred ProLiant sales offensive. “There is no competition for HPE when it comes to partner commitment,” he said. “HPE’s investment in GreenLake is a big deal.”

Steven Jow, executive vice president of Synnex, one of HPE’s top distributors, said the increased awareness that HPE is driving around security is going to help drive more ProLiant sales. “What I heard from partners here is they didn’t know about that,” he said. “This is going to help me sell more ProLiant to those partners. I love the HPE message of selling the value of volume [servers]. Security is a hot topic for all of us. For HPE to focus on security with relevant cases and how the [security architecture] is more than a bolt-on is excellent.”

Richardson, for his part, said the big security investments HPE has made have firmly established HPE as the leader in providing the “world’s most secure” servers. “We are maniacal about offering the most secure infrastructure that we possibly can to customers,” he said. “That matters.”

Richardson also urged partners to focus squarely on the trust HPE has built up with partners as a “partner-first, channel-centric” company. “As you think about how to pivot your business and meet your own transformation needs and the transformation needs of your customers, we are a company that you can bet on,” he said. “I want you to trust HPE even more than you do today. It is a terrific time to lean in with HPE.”