12 Telling Signs Of Where HP's Business Is Headed

HP Americas Partner Conference: Everybody On

You can learn a lot about a company and its strategy by paying attention to its marketing signage. This was especially true at APC 2011, where some 2000 HP partners gathered in Las Vegas to hear about how its cloud strategy and WebOS are going to rock their worlds.

HP's 'Everybody On' global marketing campaign, launched in February and supported by an integrated marketing campaign featuring print, broadcast, online and social media, highlights the transformational impact that smartphones, tablets, PCs and cloud services are exerting on human society. Oh, and also how HP technology is right there at the forefront of the revolution.

Believe In The Power

In just over a year at the helm of Hewlett-Packard’s Solution Partners Organization, Stephen DiFranco, SPO vice president and general manager, has managed to simplify and streamline what had become a confounding thicket of different HP channel programs. So when the company talks about "One HP," it's referring to an HP that's much easier to do business with than it has been in the past.

HP has also been drilling home the message that partners who sell the whole HP portfolio are doing better financially than those who don't. This was a prominent theme at APC, where HP unveiled new incentives for partners that sell its Enterprise Storage Server Networking (ESSN) products.

WebOS TouchPad Tablet Steals Show

HP spent lots of time at APC talking to partners about WebOS development, and on the show floor, HPs' WebOS TouchPad tablet -- slated for launch this summer -- was the star of the show. Starting this summer, HP partners will be able to sell WebOS solutions and tap into new HP PartnerONE program benefits including market development funds, volume programs, big deal registration and practice development.

In November, HP plans to introduce an Elite mobility program offering that will provide more substantial benefits for partners that meet higher level HP mobility partner requirements.

"We are going to help our partners develop mobility practices that include services like app development, mobility virtualization and mobility management," DiFranco told CRN. "Partners are going to be very, very important here helping customers find mobility apps that are core to their business."

HP's WebOS: Devices For All Sizes

All eyes at APC were on HP's WebOS Touchpad, but the company also offered attendees a look at the Palm Pre2, a medium-sized mobile device, and the Veer, a tiny smartphone that fits easily into the palm on one's hand. Actually, Shaquille O'Neal could probably fit four or five Veers in his hand.

HP plans to eventually use WebOS to power a multitude of devices, but for now the company's lineup fits neatly into the small/medium/large classification.

HP's Veer: Small Is The New Big

HP says the launch of its Veer WebOS smartphone is "just around the corner," and the company is touting it as a device with features and functionality that belies its tiny size. "Small is the new big," HP says in its description of the Veer. "Never before has a smartphone done so much and felt so small."

Believe In Numbers

This was the official theme of APC 2011 and a slogan meant to convey, in the statistical terms that HP's DiFranco favors, the financial advantages VARs can reap from partnering with the world's largest IT company. It's also meant to convey the reliance that HP places on its army of worldwide partners and the immensity of the business they collectively generate.

For example, more than 50 percent of HP's revenue in the Americas comes from channel partners, and partners grew revenue incrementally by $1 billion last fiscal year, Dave Donatelli, executive vice president and general manager for ESSN, told APC attendees. HP's ESSN business unit does $20 billion in product revenue on its own and has grown 26 percent in the past year, and 22 percent during HP's most recent quarter, Donatelli said.

HP's Designjet T2300: The World's Most Collaborative Printer

HP was extolling the value of its Designjet T2300 at APC, which makes it possible to access and print on the go, scan content to the Web and share content between different teams, among other capabilities. It also comes loaded with ePrint & Share software, which allows user to preview, create PDFs, print, access and share files. Starting at $8,450, this is a printer that's capable of shaking things up in the printing and imaging market.

HP's Vantagepoint Touchscreen Monster Display

What's six feet tall and indicative of HP's plans to build video platforms for business? It's HP Vantagepoint, a touch screen display solution that's headed to market in the coming weeks. No word on pricing yet, but Vantagepoint is an example of how HP will look to tackle the digital signage market with touch screen technology that pushes the user experience into realms previously undreamed of.

Behold The Power Of CloudSystem

HP has been assembling its cloud portfolio over the last 18 months and is now offering partners a program they can use today to make money.

At the heart of the portfolio is CloudSystem, a set of technologies for delivering and managing cloud services, from internal cloud services in the customer’s data center to HP-hosted clouds or external sources such as Amazon EC2. It includes BladeSystem Matrix, which HP has renamed CloudSystem Matrix, as well as Cloud Service Automation software. Cloud Maps, pre-configured templates, workflows and deployment scripts for cloud services, is also included.

CloudSystem runs on HP's Converged Infrastructure and its Cloud Service Automation (CSA) software, and it's a big part of HP's public, private and hybrid could strategy.

HP Says 3PAR Fits Well Into Storage Portfolio

HP last month completed the integration of 3PAR Utility storage technology into its HP Converged Infrastructure offerings, making 3PAR its go-to technology for cloud storage. At APC, Donatelli said 3PAR brings HP a "cutting edge storage portfolio" that's equipped for multi-tenancy and mixed workloads while also maintaining SLAs, which makes it ideal for cloud computing.

Taking The Fight To Competitors

HP is urging partners to displace competitors' servers in x86 enterprise environments, and it's looking to achieve this with its 4-and 8-socket Intel Xeon-powered ProLiant DL980 servers, which blend HP's mission critical servers and industry standard servers. In addition to fueling HP's Converged Infrastructure vision, the DL980 is part of HP's push to eliminate competing infrastructure in partner accounts wherever possible.

"Any server that's three years old or older doesn't make financial sense," Donatelli said at APC. "Partners should continue to trade those in -- it just makes financial sense."

HP Placing Big Bets On ePrint

HP's ePrint platform, unveiled last June, allows on-demand printing from anywhere to anywhere without the need for specific printer drivers.

HP’s ePrint enables businesses and consumers to print documents or photos from any device capable of sending e-mails to any ePrint-capable printer. ePrint printers can directly access and print files over the compute cloud from Google Docs, Google Photos, and Google Calendar without a local proxy PC or Web appliance.

This week, Google and HP announced that Google Cloud Print users can print directly to any HP ePrint-enabled printer from any Google Cloud Print supported app on any computer or smartphone.

Believe In Partnership

HP's global channel now encompasses 180,400 partners, or enough to fill the Dallas Cowboys' new monstrosity of a stadium nearly twice. That's more than half of HP's employee base, and it's a number that HP expects to keep growing once it established momentum behind WebOS and cloud computing.

But while mobility and cloud are exciting opportunities for the channel, they also require partners to make major investments in technical and sales training. HP is helping partners get started, but ultimately it'll be up to partners to impress upon their customers why it makes sense to go with HP over competitors.