HP Keeps Eye On Storage, Dell

Industry Editor Craig Zarley spoke recently with Adrian Jones, Hewlett-Packard's vice president and general manager, Americas Solutions Partners Organization, about issues facing HP and its partners. Here are excerpts:

CRN: What are you doing organizationally or programmatically to combat Dell's renewed channel push?

Jones: Dell has to do what it needs to do to win in their marketplace. We are going to continue to do what we need to do with our channel business. For us, we see Dell in the channel a little bit. But we have a very robust channel model and program. It is something that wasn't built in five minutes; it has taken us many years to build the right program and vehicles that we use. Do they keep me awake at night? No, not yet. But I am not complacent. I know that Dell is a large company, and they have been very successful at what they do in the past. We are watching Dell and what they do with their channel programs and their people.

CRN: What was your thinking behind your Fast-Start program, designed to quickly get ProLiant server solution providers to sell EVA enterprise storage?

Jones: The Fast-Start program is simple. When we look at our business and how we can grow incremental storage outside of our existing partner base, we looked at the top 100 ProLiant server guys that were selling everything from EMC storage to NetApp storage to HDS storage to IBM storage, and we said 'How can we get you interested in selling HP storage and drive incremental revenue?'

Sponsored post

We went to top ProLiant partners who were selling blades, selling servers and doing well in that, and we wanted to marry the two together and sell storage and servers. The whole premise of this is we want to grow incremental storage revenue. We have a big push in storage. And we believe this was an opportunity where we would not get channel conflict by going after server resellers and that's what we've done.

CRN: But why should your enterprise storage partners invest hundreds of thousands of dollars in technical training and certifications when someone new to the program can just watch a video and then get certified in six months?

Jones: If you look at how EMC or NetApp go out and recruit partners everyday, they say, 'If you are HP-certified, you can go out and sell our product tomorrow.' And the reason we went down this path—we particularly chose the low end of our EVA storage product, the 4000 [to] 4100 range of products—we wanted to create more emphasis on the low end. We decided that was a good space to go after, and we believed it wouldn't be detrimental to our existing partners. The question about certifications is that we are only giving these guys a six-month program. After that six-month process, if they feel they have a need from their customer base to sell HP storage, they have to go through the same process that every other partner does. We are really hooking partners with this today, but they will have to go through the exact same certification process after the six-month pilot process we are putting out there.

CRN: HP Chairman and CEO Mark Hurd seems to want to work with fewer but more-loyal channel partners. Is there any plan by HP to reduce the number of channel partners that you work with?

Jones: I don't think there is any proactive move to reduce the number of channel partners. Channel partners change by nature of attrition. Some partners may drop out because of a credit reason or they got out of [the] business. There are 25,000 partners in the Americas and 140,000 worldwide. You are going to get attrition no matter what you do. As far as far as making our HP-exclusive partners more loyal to HP, we've done a lot of things in the PartnerOne program to deliver additional benefits for selling more HP products. If you're selling more HP and you're exclusively focused on all three business units—IPG [Imaging and Printing Group], PSG [Personal Systems Group] and TSG [Technology Solutions Group]—you are definitely going to see the benefits by selling the whole range of products.