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HP offers expert service contracts VARs can resell for ProLiant blade servers

HP offers VARs the ability to sell expert service contracts to help customers overcome security, power, cooling and other ProLiant blade server implementation problems.

Hewlett-Packard Corp. today introduced a new program that offers high-level expertise to customers having trouble with power and cooling, server virtualization, security and other difficulties that they experience as they deploy HP's ProLiant blade servers.

The HP Proactive BladeSystem Service program allows customers to sign a one-year contract that will give them access to an HP expert trained in planning, deployment, tuning and optimization of blade server implementations.

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HP noticed that many of its customers were having difficulty with its blade servers and had to move quickly to develop a program that would address the problems, according to Brian Brouillette, vice president of HP's mission critical services group.

"There were a couple of customer trends that we were seeing. People were surprised that power and cooling was an issue, and they had no frame of reference or expertise to deal with it," Brouillette said. "The time to successfully get a new set of hardware into a production environment was taking longer, and then taking advantage of virtualization software was harder than it first appeared."

At a cost of $33,000 the service is aimed at customers deploying 50 blades or more, specifically with HP's ProLiant blade servers. The program will be available worldwide starting today through all channels, but executives particularly stressed that during the 10 months of the program's development HP had its channel partners in mind.

Partners can either resell the basic service or sell it as part of a package of hardware, software and services to customers, according to Dan Socci, vice president of sales and marketing, for HP's technology services. While the executives refrained from saying how much margin a partner can expect, they did say channel partners can make a good profit margin from selling the service.

"This service fits our partner choice model so we enable our partners to resell almost the entire support services portfolio from HP, and we do have most of that in a packaged form," Socci said.

"One of the key pieces of feedback we heard from the channel when we were designing this is they really wanted to see HP offer a one-year as opposed to a three-year contract because it gave the channel an opportunity to go back in, year in and year out and have a relationship with the customer," Brouillette said.

"The service is a support to VARs, enabling them to offer a more complete service to their customers," said Brandon Harris, director of HP solutions at Bloomfield Hills, Mich.-based value-added reseller (VAR) Logicalis US.

"Logicalis sees this as a very positive announcement from HP. It validates what we've been seeing ourselves, that HP blade systems are becoming more mission critical for our customers," Harris said.

Dan Molina, chief technology officer at HP partner Nth Generation Computing Inc., echoed Harris' reaction and said the service was a good one for VARs. Molina also said his customers have not had significant troubles with the deployment of ProLiant blade servers, because Nth Generation had certified consultants and engineers to provide best practices. Still, certification is difficult, Molina said.

"The learning curve is significant, and that's why we've had to provide ample transfer of knowledge to explain these hot new technologies in addition to the needed planning and preparation tasks required prior to starting any BladeSystem deployments," Molina said.

Once the systems are sized, installed and configured properly, the benefits far outweigh the initial learning-curve challenges and this keeps our clients highly satisfied, which in turn results in continued business," Molina added.

IDC analyst Matt Healey said the offering allows customer to deploy a large bladed environment, get the proactive services that they need and have the installation costs covered under an agreement.

"When customers need to expand the environment by deploying more blades they are not caught in a situation where they have to continue to buy additional support services for each new blade that's deployed," Healey said.

Gartner analyst Ron Silliman said HP should be commended for including its channel partners at the outset.

"HP has done a good job of thinking through the basic issues and in particular of creating an opportunity for the channel in this process, rather than creating the service and somebody figuring out 12 weeks later that they should think about the channel, too," Silliman said.

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