How HPE Is Out-Innovating Competitors With New Alletra Storage MP By ‘Going to Where The Puck Is Going:’ Paul Hunter

Hewlett Packard Enterprise North America Managing Director Paul Hunter says the new HPE GreenLake hybrid cloud storage offerings the company is bringing to market led by Alletra Storage MP provides ‘innovation that is differentiated that our competition doesn’t have.’

The Best-Ever HPE Storage Portfolio

Hewlett Packard Enterprise North America Managing Director Paul Hunter says the new HPE GreenLake hybrid cloud storage family with Alletra Storage MP is the flat-out “best storage portfolio” in the company’s history.

“This is the best storage portfolio we have ever had,” said Hunter in an interview with CRN. “One of the attributes I love about it is we are going to where the puck is going. We are not competing on feature function benefit—my stuff is faster than your stuff. We are differentiating by helping our partners help our customers with operational and agility aspects of managing data and drawing insights from it.”

The new Alletra Storage MP systems along with a new HPE GreenLake File Storage Service for AI-based data-intensive applications, an expanded HPE GreenLake Block Storage offering and new HPE GreenLake Disaster Recovery and Backup and Recovery cloud services provide innovation that is differentiated from competitors, said Hunter.

“The three innovations we are adding bring a bigger market into sight for our partners,” said Hunter. “They are compelling to our customers so it makes it easier to sell with some innovation that is differentiated that our competition doesn’t have.”

The new HPE storage innovation comes with HPE in the midst of all-out bid to grab cloud storage services market share with a new North America data services and storage team backed up by a new partner incentive that nearly triples the commission for HPE GreenLake storage as a service from 6 percent to 17 percent.

The push for data-first modernization and market-share growth in 2023 was put in place for the start of the HPE fiscal year, Nov. 1, by HPE North America Managing Director Paul Hunter.

Among the changes was a move to put all of HPE North America’s storage and presales specialists under Adnan Bhutta as the new vice president and general manager of North America storage and data services sales. Previously, Bhutta was overseeing North America commercial sales.

Hunter’s final call of action to partners: “Make use of the investments and tools we are making available. We are making it easier to win, easier to create new opportunities, and the proposition is incredibly compelling to customers if we are able to tell it in a way that they can convert into business terms.”

How big is the HPE GreenLake Alletra Storage MP opportunity?

It has never been either more compelling or easier to sell our storage portfolio. That is the feedback that we are getting from our partners.

We are offering HPE GreenLake File Storage Services. That automatically means another 30 [percent] to 40 percent of the storage market is targetable by our partners with us. So it brings a much bigger market into view for us collectively.

Secondly, we are introducing HPE Alletra Storage MP. The value of Alletra MP is customers can buy storage from us without knowing exactly what their storage requirements will be in terms of a mixture between file and block.

For a lot of customers, that is hugely valuable because they don’t know how their data requirements are going to grow. So we are providing them the ability to adjust and repurpose and reprovision storage depending on how their data needs grow. That is a really compelling value proposition for customers.

For partners that is something new they can talk to customers about that our competition is not able to offer. So there is a lot of value there.

The third component is the addition of backup and recovery and disaster recovery services for the GreenLake platform.

When we announced HPE GreenLake Block Storage as a Service, the data that is stored is automatically protected. It is included in the service to the customer. So the customer is able to give the criteria on the level of protection they are looking for, the level of availability and the service they are looking to get. We together with our partners are responsible for providing that.

The three innovations we are adding bring a bigger market into sight for our partners. They are compelling to our customers so it makes it easier to sell with some innovation that is differentiated that our competition doesn’t have.

The other aspect of this which is really exciting is we are going to where the puck is going. Our customers want to free up resources to innovate. They are under huge pressure to continue to add new services, to move quickly and to innovate. At the same time, they are under pressure to run their own environment more economically.

Through the GreenLake platform and the addition of these integrated services like Backup and Recovery, Disaster Recovery, File and Block, our partners and HPE are able to really help our customers with operational management in a cloud-modern manner. That poses big opportunity for our partners.

It enables partners building a managed services business to continue to scale their managed services offerings to their customers.

The second big opportunity we see is for service providers like Alpha 3 Cloud Services, which is providing a service to small innovative companies. Through the use of the [GreenLake] platform they are able to do that in a more cost-efficient and cost-effective manner. So it improves the profitability of the service provider.

The announcements in short mean that we are making it easier for partners to sell the storage proposition, we are making it more compelling to their customers, they are making more money and they are able to build out businesses.

Interestingly, we are also seeing the emergence of new service provider partners as well like Alpha 3 and others as well. It is also actually enabling a bit of new partner creation.

What kind of investments are you making for partners to drive HPE GreenLake Alletra Storage MP sales?

The innovation we are bringing in our Alletra portfolio is compelling, but there are also the investments we are making to help create opportunities for our partners.

We are doing a few things that I am really excited about. We are scaling the marketing activity. We are doing micro events. We are enabling our partners to order from us in a menu-driven fashion co-marketing events that will be themed around data, that will be local and that will be at scale.

CPP, one of our partners, recently ran one in the New York region. Typically, the partner will get 30 to 50 attendees and they create leads from that event.

We are looking to do that at scale. In the next four to eight weeks, we are looking to do over 100 of these events. It means partners can scale the demand generation themselves. They are not having to do all of the legwork themselves. There are significant investments going into that to the tune of millions of dollars.

What is the call to action on micro events for Storage Alletra MP?

There is a huge opportunity. We have 100 to 150 micro events ready to be utilized geographically spread across the U.S. and Canada.

This is outside of MDF. This is not necessitated on MDF spend. This is incremental marketing dollars that we are looking to target pipeline generation for our storage portfolio with our partners.

Another not wholly understood piece of innovation we are bringing to market is the Software Defined Opportunity Engine [SDOE], which is automated proposal generation.

How important is SDOE as a tool to drive sales growth for partners?

What it is is automated proposal generation and it is automated based on the attributes of the storage that is being managed. So you can imagine if a partner has sold some [HPE] 3Par [storage] two or three years ago, there is opportunity for more capacity, more performance and potentially a greater degree of protection.

SDOE essentially provides the data on usage and performance, which is then fed into a proposal that is automatically generated for the partner to send to the customer.

First of all, it is insight-driven based on the customer’s actual utilization. It’s not generic. It is customized. It is based on the customer’s data and it takes the legwork [out of the proposal] for the partner. It goes into a format with the customer’s data with a proposal on what the upgrade path would look like and what the return on investment looks like. It does all that work. It enables partners to create opportunities faster and close them because we are automating it, it is personalized to the customer, and it takes into account how the customer is actually [using] their storage environment.

We have created 2,000 leads for partners, which we are collaborating on closing with our partners. That is a function of the awesome innovation that has been going on inside the storage unit. They are very much at the forefront of this automated, insight-driven proposal generation for our partners. The emphasis being on ‘for our partners.’ This is all partner-centric.

We envision that we will extend it to encompass other parts of our portfolio to include compute and other domains. At the moment we are concentrating on getting scale and expertise on storage with SDOE.

We have been in market with SDOE for about 12 months, but it is only in the last six months where we have really refined it and are now collaborating with our teams to do this at scale. It takes partners some time to adopt it and apply it.

What do partners need to do if they want to participate with SDOE?

Any partner can participate and use it. The best thing to do for them is to speak to their PBM [partner business manager] or their storage specialist.

In terms of using it, we have seen 2,000 opportunities created through SDOE. The more usage, the more scale there is.

What we have done with not just the introduction of Alletra Storage MP and the Alletra 5000—which was introduced three months ago—is brought a new lower price point, which has made it more accessible for customers. It has hybrid disk media and it means we are able to offer Alletra at a lower price point.

It really appeals to local government customers and it appeals to some of our smaller customers. You have got Alletra 5000 at the entry level and you have got Alletra Storage MP. The huge opportunity for Alletra MP is some of the 3Par installed base, which has higher data availability demands. That is why the 100 percent data availability guarantee is huge. The target addressable market has expanded hugely with these introductions and then we have made it easier to convert that at scale.

How big a market opportunity is there to refresh the 3Par installed base?

The opportunity to refresh the 3Par installed base is hundreds of millions of dollars. It is very significant.

SDOE adoption—in terms of the number of partners using it—is probably about 5 percent. It is relatively small.

The opportunity those partners that are using SDOE are deriving is completely outsized. So there is a big opportunity for adoption on automated proposals with SDOE. It is not just automating it. It is insight-driven proposal generation. Anyone can automate a proposal, but this is based on the customer’s data. It makes it much more compelling and it improves close rates.

Besides SDOE what kind of AI are you using in the storage business?

We are applying AI to the majority of our tools. AI is completely driving the operational management of our storage environment.

The InfoSight portfolio—which is AI-led operations—is intrinsic to our storage platform. That reduces the cost to run and support that environment and remediate [problems]. So it improves both the service quality and the economics of supporting that environment on behalf of our customers.

How much air cover and marketing support is HPE providing with the storage business?

Our aspiration this year is to really show up at scale with impact. We have addressed every aspect of the partner incentive, the partner opportunity and the propensity and the proposition for our partners to sell.

From the identification of the opportunity to the creation of the opportunity right through to the closing of it and the money and profit and business that a partner is able to create, we have invested at every stage of the sales cycle and we have done it consistently now.

For the past six to nine months, we have turned up at scale. We’ve increased the number of storage specialists on our sales team. We have got dedicated storage sellers for our partners. It’s a 360-degree approach to identifying, proposing and closing storage opportunities with our partners.

With Storage Alletra MP, HPE has upped the GreenLake storage opportunity. How big a breakthrough is this for GreenLake?

The GreenLake opportunity continues to be one that our customers want to hear about. The proposition is we are helping our customers with applications and data that they want to cloudify. They want to have the service available at speed and they have struggled to do that with the historical approach they have had.

We are seeing customers respond really encouragingly. The NPS [Net Promoter Score] on GreenLake is very high. We are seeing very high retention and growth rates for our GreenLake environment. Once customers start using it, they really like it. They add more workloads to it.

The storage business unit is right at the forefront of investing in GreenLake as a data services platform. So it’s bringing backup and recovery and disaster recovery with the inclusion of Zerto. We have added File Services and already have Block as a Service incorporated into it. You can expect more services to get added.

Those services are available on a point-and-click basis. They are available in a very modern, UI [user interface]-enabled, point-and-click, consumer-grade customer experience. That is what business customers expect to experience now. Customers have the benefit of being able to take advantage of that.

What are you hearing from customers with regard to economic headwinds and how that might affect GreenLake?

Data-led projects that serve the business in a meaningful, disruptive manner continue to be an absolute priority. We are seeing the use and adoption of data for new services, particularly the application of machine learning. We are continuing to see that explode.

AI is in the public domain and a much-talked-about subject now. It seems to be the subject of every podcast I listen to now.

Customers and businesses are absolutely applying and using machine learning models and applying them to their businesses. And where they have got proven machine learning models, they are looking to scale, they are not waiting. They are urgently putting those into production. So we’re continuing to see increased demand for data-dependent business services and there is an urgency to it.

The other dimension we are seeing is customers that have got other projects to add capacity to modernize are continuing to do that, but they are in some instances taking a second and third look at whether this is the priority at this moment in time.

How is that impacting how they look at HPE with the data-first insight GreenLake platform?

Customers are constantly and consistently looking at where they run their workloads and where do they run them that is the best fit in terms of economics and control and ownership of their data and the attributes of their workload. That means looking at the attributes of the workload and does it go into large peaks and troughs or is it relatively consistent and the demand is relatively constant?

Those attributes dictate some of the choices and, of course, the industry dictates where they are putting their workloads and how they are managing them.

But what they are all looking for is speed of service, the integrity of their data. They want to have some control and ownership of their data and they have an economic consideration. But that economic consideration isn’t always the most important factor in how they determine what runs where.

What continues unabated is the critical nature of data in running a business. We say with every month and every year that goes by, that becomes more and more important. That is great news for partners because it means they continue to be more and more and more relevant. Customers need advice. It is a very complicated market and world. Our customers are getting more informed. They are becoming more expert. Lines of business are becoming technology experts. Therefore, IT functions need help managing to carve out the right path through a complicated, changeable, fast- moving world.

How do you feel about the HPE Storage portfolio now with the Alletra Storage MP?

It’s the best it has ever been. This is the best storage portfolio we have ever had. One of the attributes I love about it is we are going to where the puck is going. We are not competing on feature function benefit—my stuff is faster than your stuff. We are differentiating by helping our partners help our customers with operational and agility aspects of managing data and drawing insights from it.

I have been at the company for a long time, as you know. This is the best storage and data portfolio we have ever had.

What is the final call to action to partners?

The final call to action to partners is make use of the investments and tools we are making available. We are making it easier to win, easier to create new opportunities and the proposition is incredibly compelling to customers if we are able to tell it in a way they can convert into business terms.