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HP drives toward”Global 500,000″ focuses on blades, includes some services

Hewlett-Packard Co. launched an assault on the mid-market yesterday, targeting what it calls the “global 500,000” – companies with between 100 and 999 employees.

Like similar marketing campaigns from Dell, IBM, Microsoft, Cisco, Oracle and SAP, among others, HP’s stated goal is to provide high-end functions in relatively affordable systems that are easy to install, customize and administer.

HP actually does quite well in SMB and the mid-market, though no one with the possible exception of Microsoft is really happy with their position,” according to Jonathan Eunice, principal analyst for Illuminata, in Nashua, NH.

The campaign centers around product packages that include the rack-based HP BladeSystem c3000 “Shorty” blade system, which hold up to eight Opteron or Itanium blades. Also included is the StorageWorks All-in-One Sb600c Storage Blade, which is designed to provide backup, archiving and disaster-recovery without requiring any special technical skills of either customer or solutions provider.

“The HP product pitch is a particular spin to position the product toward the right customers and away from competitors,” Eunice said. “Shorty is exceedingly powerful by the standards of most SMBs. And blades, while democratizing beyond the largest of the large datacenters, aren’t yet a workaday reality for smaller shops.”

Key to the channel’s participation in this push is the inclusion of a set of solution blueprints called HP Solution Blocks that offer a range of configurations and product packages among which solution providers can pick and choose to meet a customer’s specific needs.

“The big difference [with this campaign] is how we bring services to the customer,” said Urs Urs Renggli, director, HP’s worldwide small and midmarket business unit. “We deliver solutions to mid-sized businesses through our channel partners, and we give our partners lots of tools enabling them to do business that we did not do in the past.”

Among those tools are HP Care Pack services – fixed-price service packages that include a variety of network and hardware configuration, installation and startup, a swell as training and post-sales service.

Special financing rates of 1.9% for the first 12 months on transactions between $25,000 and $150,000 are designed to help customers with sophisticate needs and modest budgets afford the HP packages.

“There are a tremendous number of mid-sized customers out there with infrastructure that’s five or six years old,” Renggli said. “A lot of them need to move to newer storage and servers and financing is a critical to helping to make that move.”

Real success among the “global 500,000,” however, not only requires a vendor to help its channel push tons of product, but also an understanding and adaptation to the specific needs of mid-market companies rather than large enterprises, Eunice said.

“That is what will really do the trick,” Eunice said. “Not this or that product.”

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