HP In Massive Storage Hiring Spree Despite Planned Workforce Cuts Of 34,000

HP 3PAR StoreServ 7450 all-flash array

Hewlett-Packard is beefing up its storage sales and support teams even as the IT giant is in the midst of a massive restructuring of its workforce, CRN has learned.

A source close to HP said the company has well over 100 open requisitions for its storage team in North America, including account reps and support people related to direct and indirect sales. HP's website, however, lists over 200 storage job openings in the U.S. alone.

This comes despite recent reports that HP plans to reduce its headcount by about 34,000 people, based on a late December SEC filing.

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The growth of HP's storage team comes at a time of growth for the company's storage business, particularly its 3PAR storage line. 3PAR sales grew 64 percent year-over-year in HP's fourth fiscal quarter, the company said in November.

It's a very important move for HP and the channel, said Rich Baldwin, CIO and chief strategy officer at Nth Generation Computing, a San Diego-based solution provider and long-term HP channel partner.

"We're looking at doing more account planning and focusing on new accounts," Baldwin said. "HP can open doors I can't. And if I partner with HP people, it's to our advantage. Having more HP people can help us open those doors."

In 2013, Nth's 3PAR storage sales grew about 45 percent over the previous year thanks to the introduction of the midrange 7000 series of 3PAR arrays, and Baldwin said he expects at least that much growth again this year, which highlights the importance of increased support from HP.

"We're seeing an uptick in our HP cloud and storage business, and HP's server business has bounced back," Baldwin said. "This will be a very good year for us."

In an email response to questions about HP's hiring plans, Dave Butler, president of Enterprise Computing Solutions, a Mission Viejo, Calif.-based solution provider and long-term HP channel partner, said he had not heard any specifics regarding the number of people HP is hiring to beef up its storage business but was made aware of the company's focus.

"I can share that I am aware that HP is investing in marketing, call center, storage reps, and specialist with a focus on growing the storage business. They are very focused on the StoreOnce products, which is a very competitive product line. The message is also focused more on competing going forward," Butler wrote.

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Enterprise Computing Solutions' Butler also wrote that the move seems to be in line with HP CEO Meg Whitman’s master plan and matches her focus on execution.

"All in all we see this as very good for our business and we are planning additional headcount on our side to support our growth goals for FY2014. Exciting times for us after we watched our storage and overall business grow significantly in 2013," he wrote.

An HP spokesperson responded via email to a request for more information that he is looking to confirm the actual number of people HP is seeking to hire.

"That said, even during times of restructuring, we still look to invest in and hire for the skill sets that support our growth plans and the New Style of IT," the spokesperson wrote.

A couple of HP storage managers confirmed under condition they remain unnamed that HP is moving to significantly beef up its storage team, but they declined to confirm the actual number of planned hires.

One of those executives said HP's current reorganization and workforce reduction stemmed in part from redundancies related to several acquired companies, and that an increase in storage personnel is related to the fact that storage is a real growth area for the company.

"There's a big emphasis on storage in general, and especially related to 3PAR and HP StoreOnce," one of the executives said. "There's growth in customer-facing people, and it could be channel reps, SAs [solutions architects], and sales. But the clear direction is to leverage the channel."

A second HP storage executive said that HP is seeing strong growth in storage, particularly with 3PAR and HP StoreOnce dedupe technology, and does not have the "feet in the street" needed to keep that growth going.

"So we're going through partners," the executive said. "I can say a lot of energy and money is being invested in storage. It's a growth product for us. Partners win with solutions, not just with products."