5 Questions For HP Enterprise Channels VP Stephen DiFranco

Q&A With HP Enterprise Channels VP Stephen DiFranco

Stephen DiFranco, vice president of Hewlett-Packard's Enterprise Group Channel Organizations in the Americas, spoke about the battle with Dell, the company's drive to get more HP partners to sell the full HP product portfolio and the appointment of 24-year HP veteran Mike Parrottino to the newly created position of vice president of enterprise group channels volume sales. Here are five questions for the 20-year plus channel veteran.

What is the message to Dell, which is gaining share in servers?

I would really encourage you to go look into that number and find out where that server gain came from. The server business is broken into a lot of pieces. One of those pieces is hyperscale [servers for cloud service providers]. There are going to be some big deals, and depending on who wants to finance those deals through pricing, you can start to move share around. That is just where our industry is right now.

I don't think that's a reflection on whether or not you are the company that people go to for their IT requirements across a much broader set of companies and a much broader set of partners. Okay, so they got a big win. They got one big win. It is going to reflect on their numbers for a while. Let's look at the entire canvas and not one particular transaction.

Can you talk about HP's server commitment?

Take a look at who's building the smartest servers and putting the most amount of R&D into servers. Let's take a look at who's bringing out servers that are going everywhere from desktops all the way up to hyperscale. Who is really doing the capital investment in what is going to be the next generation of compute technologies?

You have got to decide what kind of company you want to be. We are going to be the company that stretches both boundaries -- the next version of compute on one side and building a transactional business model that is fast, agile, quick and meaningful to the customers who wake up on Monday and need a server on Tuesday. We have got to be that company too. That is a big mission. That is what we are executing to. That is why Mike [Parrottino] is coming over [to the enterprise group].

What is the priority when you look at the product set in terms of making changes?

The issue isn't the products. It is getting the pricing, the positioning and the promotions all set across that HP brand. Our problem has never been not having great products. I think our problem is we haven't been as focused on those other Ps, [pricing, programs, processes,] if you will. If you take a look at that, I think we do that incredibly well on the PC side. Whether that is our desktops or workstations. And we need to start to do it on our enterprise side whether it is servers, networking or storage.

Are we going to see more aggressive promotions and processes around making sure partners are selling the full portfolio?

Part of what Mike [Parrottino] (pictured) has the responsibility and authority to do is now take both our distributor/financial benefit programs and our PartnerOne [channel] programs and start to gear them to bring benefit when you go back into being a franchise reseller. For a lot of reasons, we may have lost focus on that. We are going to bring that back. I am going to leave it to Mike to decide how he wants to do that. We have not rewarded sufficiently or provided enough incentives to encourage VARs to buy across the portfolio. And, we should do that because it is the right thing to do.

What kind of resources will Mike have to make program and pricing changes to make sure partners are rewarded for selling the full portfolio?

He [Mike Parrottino] has everything he needs. We have aligned members of each of the business units to work with Mike. We have taken our planning team with James Mundle [director, business management, Enterprise Channels,] that reports directly to Mike.

What James is doing is looking at everything from inventory levels and program plans, and his job is to have those knobs. What Mike will now be able to do is work with James to decide how to turn those knobs. There are two things I tell my team: We have got to make sure that we understand where those knobs are and we are turning them thoughtfully because we impact a lot of people in this industry. Second is that we turn them enough to make a difference. Turn big knobs, turn them enough and make sure you know why you are turning them.