Server SVP: 10 Reasons HP's IBM-Lenovo x86 Server Attack Is Paying Off

Already Seeing Results

Antonio Neri, senior vice president and general manager for HP Servers and HP Networking, spoke with CRN about the next step in an aggressive HP campaign in which it is calling out IBM's "uncertain" x86 server future and offering a free half-day consulting session to qualified IBM customers. Since HP rolled out its Smart Choice campaign aimed at capitalizing on the turmoil sparked by IBM's forthcoming sale of its x86 server business to Lenovo, Neri said the server sales pipeline for HP has steadily grown. Here are 10 reasons he says HP's IBM/Lenovo campaign is working.

Uncertainty Surrounding IBM's Sale Of Its x86 Server Business To Lenovo

When we put in place the [HP] Smart Choice program [immediately after IBM in January revealed the proposed sale of its x86 server business to Lenovo], we sized the opportunity as a $4 billion-plus opportunity over a period of time. That [HP sales] pipeline has been steady. The good news is our win rate has improved.

I cannot share specific numbers, but I will tell you the pipeline win rate has improved over the last several weeks. Obviously, as more time goes by and the uncertainty continues to be there customers have to make a choice on which partner they are going to select going forward. I would say we are getting more than our fair share at this point in time.

The Breadth And Depth Of The HP Product Portfolio

Look at the breadth of our portfolio. There is more than a one-to-one match if you look at the product segmentation and look at what those IBM customers are running. We have the best solution for them to transition.

Our overlap with IBM products positions us very well because we cover from the low end of a server rack including tower systems all the way to mission-critical products including [IBM] Power. We don't look at this an opportunity against the x86 but also the opportunity against [IBM] Power because of our strength with our portfolio.

Free Half Day Consulting Sessions For IBM Customers

We are doing hundreds of these consulting sessions, whether it is one-on-one or one-to-many. They are all focused on business outcomes. They are focused on the key problems: cloud, big data, security and mobility. They all focus on how to solution-architect the capability you need to address those problems based on what business outcomes you are trying to achieve. There is a consistent methodology for all the practices and, obviously, we customize it based on customer needs.

A 50 Percent Hit Rate On Consulting Sessions

It is about a 50 percent [sales success rate on the consulting sessions we've already completed]. The question is, what are the size of the deals? They start small and then grow. You can start with a $50,000 engagement and then at the end you walk away selling a $10 million solution. This is why I call it 'the tip of the sphere.' Customers are demanding this type of engagement and advisory from companies like HP. That is where we bring in our expertise and our point of view. Customers are demanding point of view from vendors.

Services And Support For Both IBM And HP Systems

Service and support is super critical. The fact that HP can provide heterogeneous support of IBM and HP gear is super critical. Customers need peace of mind when they make that critical choice on not only what they are buying today but also to support their installed base, and HP has that capability. Definitely peace of mind on support and maintenance is super, super important to customers.

HP Innovation Vs. IBM's x86 Exit

A key differentiator is the innovation we bring to the market in a space that IBM has decided to vacate. It is not just x86. HP ProLiant has been the recognized No. 1 brand for 18 years in a row in traditional x86. But if you think about our Unix solution against [IBM] Power, our mission-critical x86, our high-performance computing with launch of Apollo at Discover, it is giving them peace of mind that we are here to invest for the long run.

IBM x86 Customer Account Management In Limbo

Obviously, account management [for IBM x86 customers] is in limbo. So if you are a sales rep at IBM the only thing you can tell customers is: 'Don't worry about it, the deal will go through and Lenovo will continue to invest.' That is not a strong message. Definitely there is disruption and dislocation in the field. There is a tremendous amount of uncertainty at the account level.

Lenovo's Server R&D Challenge

Ultimately, Lenovo has not innovated in the [data center] infrastructure space even though they have tried to introduce their own products. Part of this is how culturally you are going to bring that R&D capability and know-how into the Lenovo culture. Customers are stepping back and asking, 'Who will continue to innovate at the pace of my needs and then ultimately be there to help me in the journey to the cloud?' That goes beyond just infrastructure. It is services plus software. Who is that partner? The choice could not be clearer. It is HP.

An Aggressive Campaign To Recruit IBM Partners

We are targeting not only the hybrid [multivendor] partners but also the pure [IBM] blue partners. The success has been very consistent so far. But it is a longer journey. It is not going to happen overnight. The good news is that we have a constant dialogue with those partners either directly or through our distributors.

We have talked to the top 10 [IBM] partners and we are making decent progress as we speak. Some of them have actually approached us directly to understand the program, the incentives, the benefits. We have a series of dedicated PBMs [Partner Business Managers] and incentives we provide to them to come to HP.

A Partner Centric Model To Beat IBM-Lenovo

HP was built on partners. We are very partner-centric in everything we do. Ultimately, everything we do, whether it is this program or other programs, is with and through our partners. This is not just about saying, 'IBM customers, here is HP.' It is, 'Here is HP and our partners together who can deliver the business outcomes you are looking for.' Our success will not be measured only on how many customers we bring in but also how many partners we make successful in this journey.