CRN Exclusive: HPE Stepping Up Its Partner Services Offensive

Looking To The Channel For Data Center Services Growth

Hewlett Packard Enterprise's Pointnext services business on Tuesday expanded the number of services it offers clients via its Datacenter Care Services who have either HPE or non-HPE equipment as a way to help modernize their operations. HPE's channel partners have access to these services, but on a one-off type of sale.

That is changing. Starting in January, HPE will bring to market Datacenter Care Services Starter Pack, a version of those services packaged as a single SKU designed specifically to make it easy for partners to easily attach the services to the sale of HPE servers and storage, or easily bring those services to existing data center environments even if there are no HPE products there.

Gerry Nolan, worldwide senior director for operational services in HPE Pointnext, told CRN that the new Datacenter Care Services SKU will be HPE's primary tool for aggressively expanding its services business, giving partners with either extensive or little experience in services the chance to be a part of the business. Turn the page for details.

What's new this week with HPE Datacenter Care services?

[We're] refreshing our HPE Datacenter Care services to help customers modernize their IT operations and increase their IT management efficiency. About six-and-a-half years ago, we launched a service called HPE Datacenter Care. We'd been doing mission-critical support longer than I've been here, which is about 30 years. So for about 40 years we've been doing mission-critical support. And six-and-a-half years ago, we launched HPE Datacenter Care experience as a way of putting a warm blanked of support around the customer's IT. All of their IT: on-premises, HPE, non-HPE, so the whole thing. And you get a single team, a single phone number, a flexible set of deliverables, special processes should something bad happen. ... And over the last six-and-a-half years, we've [seen] about 4,500 of our largest customers across all geos and segments are now under this experience.

What is included with this new launch?

We're launching a bunch of new capabilities in areas like backup and recovery, security, helping even more with SAP HANA--we're one of the number-one SAP HANA vendors. Leveraging all of our skills that we've built up, we're enhancing that part of Datacenter Care. We're ramping up our Microsoft Azure hybrid cloud capabilities. We're one of the cloud service providers for Microsoft, and we also have a Microsoft Azure Stack solution. And we've built up a team of experts which we can bring to bear for customers trying to deploy hybrid cloud, either on- or off-premises with Azure. IT performance, another area where we see customers struggle.

What else?

Automation. Using the plethora of tools out there from Chef, Puppet, Docker, SoftStack, Ansible, taking all those tools and making sense of them for our customers and helping them to save more money, become more compliant, automate the more mundane manual work. And deploying EnterpriseDB Postgres--We see that 77 percent of new apps are being deployed on Postgres. With all of our experience in helping customers manage their database environments, we have signed up with EnterpriseDB and built out our EnterpriseDB skills in our database center of excellence. And we're bringing that to bear through Datacenter Care, so if a customer wants to get access to the software, get it all deployed, help migrate from a legacy database to EDB, manage and operate that on an on-going basis, we can do all that now with Datacenter Care.

How about for the channel?

In early 2019, we're going to be launching a single SKU for HPE Datacenter Care. Up until this point, it's been a statement of work experience. But starting in early 2019, especially for the channel, we're launching an up-front attach motion for this experience. So that as channel partners put together deals where they're selling, for examples, servers with storage, they can now insert a Datacenter Care SKU to provide this experience for those types of opportunities. We know that the channel will be excited about this because it was the channel that was asking for this for quite some time, and we've been working on it. So we're getting ready here to pull the trigger on that in early 2019.

How many channel partners would you say are using HPE Datacenter Care services?

I won't say the exact number, but we sell probably hundreds of millions of dollars of Datacenter Care through the channel. It's about 20 to 25 percent of the total, and it's grown dramatically over the last year. And with the launch of the Datacenter Care Starter Pack in January, that's all about fueling the growth in that space. We want to make it a much more significant route to market. And we'd really like to expose a lot more through channel partners. Making it a lot more transactional is really going to help in that regard. We've had limited transactional capabilities up until now because of the nature of the experience, and building it for each customer.

What do you mean about making Datacenter Care "transactional?"

Allowing [partners] to include it at point-of-sale with a SKU.

How many channel partners are offering Datacenter Care now?

I don't actually know, but it's a lot. It's hundreds, but I couldn't give you a specific number. I know that the orders are significant. Hundreds and hundreds of millions of dollars go through the channel, and it's growing dramatically. I'm sorry, I just don't have the actual number for you. But it's available to all channel partners. All channel partners can sell Datacenter Care today. Not all of them have engaged. And a number of them have wanted this transactional SKU approach before they would jump in. I think that's probably why it's not bigger than it is, if that makes sense.

As you look to engage the channel even more with Datacenter Care services next year, what are you doing to make this attractive to partners who have their own high-margin services offerings?

This is very flexible. Imagine you've got this menu of capabilities. And if you're strong in a particular space as a partner, maybe you're strong in SAP HANA, but there may be areas where we could augment your skills. So we built a joint framework where we can partner up with a particular company, and the partner owns the customer. [The partners] can buddy up with HPE and Datacenter Care, and pick and choose the components or the menu items that they're perhaps not as strong in and deliver that to their customers. So it's one plus one equals three.

How will partners be paid for selling Datacenter Care packs?

There are attractive rebates for selling Datacenter Care. So financially, we make it very attractive for partners to promote this experience.

Do you have any specific sales targets the partner part of the Datacenter Care business?

We are hoping to double the channel. That's our goal. We really don't know the impact that the Datacenter Care Starter Pack will have, but we believe it will be significant. We've just got to wait and see if our assumptions play out. But there's been a lot of excitement in our channel organization. They are chomping at the bit to get this launched so they can expose it up to many more companies, those companies who have been sitting on the wings and saying we really need a SKU. There's an understanding not only about the new value I've been talking about--that's exciting for the current partners--but this upfront SKU will just open it up [partners] with new value and a new way to sell it. There's a double benefit in there.

What is the Datacenter Care Starter Pack?

The Starter Pack is the name for the single SKU we're launching in early 2019. That's the name we gave it. There were lots of names bantered about, but people seemed to like "Starter Pack" because it is a package of deliverables you get, [with] a bunch of deliverables and planning sessions and so on.


In widening your reach to the partner community, are you focused on bringing Datacenter Care Services only attached as part of a larger HPE sale, or will they be available just for the sake of bringing services to clients?

This particular service would be primarily associated with existing HPE or non-HPE environments, but it's more likely to be positioned with the sale of new HPE products into an existing environment. But there's no reason why you couldn't go to an existing customer and say, 'You're having challenges with skills,' or 'You're having challenges with outages,' or 'There's some operational efficiency challenges.' There's no reason you couldn't sell Datacenter Care that perhaps may not be buying new hardware at this moment. The starter pack SKU can be sold into that environment. It doesn't require an attach motion, so it doesn't require you to be selling hardware. It's just that that's typically the normal way it is being sold. ... There's many instances where customers are mostly challenged with their legacy hardware. [This service] helps you get control of your legacy environments, helps you modernize, deploy the new.

What product sales would this primarily be attached to?

Servers and storage would be the primary. If I did a scan of the database, the majority of the products are servers and storage across multiple vendors. Mostly HPE, but there's also hundreds of millions of dollars of non-HPE Datacenter Care in there as well. We're growing very quickly in the multi-vendor space just because a customer really likes having a single phone number and a single accountable team. ... For a customer who says it wants to get rid of all this mundane work, it has better things to do with its time, we can include in Datacenter Care getting behind the keyboard and doing the work for the customer. So backing up their EMC array or their NetApp array, backup or install or operate their Dell servers. It's really a quite extensive suite of capabilities.

Any new certification or training expected to be required for Datacenter Care Service starter packs?

No, not really, other than going through the necessary sales training. There's no other heavy lift in terms of on-boarding. … It's a very straight-forward concept: Any partner that can sell our standard support SKUs can sell this one.