Networking News

HP Steps Up Networking Offensive To Win Over Cisco Partners

Steven Burke
Frank Rauch

Hewlett-Packard has launched an all-out offensive to recruit long-time Cisco Systems partners to carry the full, newly minted HP networking product portfolio.

HP, Palo Alto, Calif., is targeting everyone from the top 10 VARs, top 10 systems integrators and top 10 carriers in the country to the growing regional superpower VARs and fast-growing SMB networking solution providers.

The HP networking partner recruitment offensive was on full display at Everything Channel's VAR500-CIO50 Conference in New York on Tuesday where the company was courting VAR500 powers with big Cisco practices such as Dimension Data, Worldwide Technology, Presidio and CompuCom. Everything Channel is the parent company of CRN.

HP Enterprise Storage Server Networking Vice President Channel Sales Frank Rauch declined to comment on which specific VARs he was meeting with at the VAR500 conference, but he acknowledged that HP is pressing partners to carry the full HP networking product line.

Rauch said HP is aiming to get a bevy of partners certified on networking products at the HP TechForum 2010 in Las Vegas June 21 - 24. The forum marks the first time that HP will be providing certification on its newly acquired end-to-end networking product portfolio.

Fueled by its $2.7 billion acquisition in April of networking vendor 3Com, HP is aiming to entice partners with what it is calling a more profitable networking product sale for them. That means going after what it calls Cisco's 80 percent margins with what it claims is an HP networking portfolio that features 50 percent better performance at a 30 to 50 percent lower cost than the Cisco networking products.

San Jose, Calif.-based Cisco, for its part, has recently downplayed the Cisco-HP rivalry. Executives at its Cisco Partner Summit in April said the company is focused on "market transitions," not other companies.

As part of HP's stepped up partner offensive, the company has named Armughan Ahmad, who helped build out the 3Com enterprise networking channel, as vice president, Americas Channel Sales, HP Networking. Ahmad, who reports to Rauch, is leading the recruitment effort attempting to bring more partners on board to carry the core HP networking router/switches line (Advanced Series, Essential Series, Value Series and the Security Product line).

Ahmad, who started in his new job June 1, said his message to partners is that HP has "twice the performance, 50 percent less energy usage, [is] 35 to 50 percent less expensive and [is] easier to manage" than the Cisco networking portfolio. "We have the full gamut of networking products," said Ahmad. "My message is 'let's go win some deals together.'" HP is also touting its own Cisco-free network, which is the central nervous system for the $123 billion company.

NEXT: HP Takes Shots At Cisco's Supply Chain Woes

Ahmad said HP aims to help generate partner momentum with significant enterprise networking wins against Cisco.

If that isn't enough, HP is also emphasizing what it calls supply chain advantages with a networking product line based on "merchant silicon" technology rather than ASIC-based technology. "It is standards-based technology versus closed technology that obviously is hard to find," he said.

HP's claims of supply chain superiority comes as Cisco is grappling with the effects of supply chain issues that partners say has hammered the Cisco channel for much of the last year.

HP claims that standards-based merchant silicon is powering a networking product line that has 70 percent energy efficiency at 50 percent less cost with a "single operating system across our entire product line from edge to data center," said Ahmad.

HP is not sharing how many partners are currently certified on its full networking product line or even how many it hopes to add to its ranks by the end of the year.

Rauch, for his part, would only say that HP is not taking a scatter-shot approach to partner recruitment. "We want it to be extremely profitable and extremely predictable for the partners that are willing to step up," he said. "By the way, we are not going to dictate it [the number of partners]. We are going to put the bar high and those that are able to reach that bar will benefit."

Rauch said HP is poised to announce a number of networking customer and partner wins over the next several months.

One top VAR500 solution provider executive, who did not want to be identified, said he is anxious to hear more about the HP networking opportunity given the strong channel push by HP.

"We're more committed to HP than any other vendor," the executive said. "They have changed how they work with us. We used to fight each other on the hardware side of the business. Now we go in hand in hand. We have a deep relationship and they care."

That said, the CEO said he hopes that HP and Cisco do not force partners to choose one or the other. "This is still a customer-driven business," he said. "If they ask us to choose we all lose."

Check out the online home of CRN's 2010 VAR500 special report for more information on the companies that made this year's list.

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