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HP sweetens deal for data center, storage VARs

HP extends its rebate program for data center products and federal government resellers, opening certifications and increasing margins.

Hewlett-Packard Co. (HP) announced this week that it has sweetened the pot for partners selling its enterprise-class servers and storage.

The company has expanded its nine-month-old Growth Accelerator program, which sets annual sales targets for specific partners and increases rebates if they exceed the targets. Rather than covering only products from HP's imaging and printing group and enterprise servers and storage division, the program now covers both storage and services independent of servers.

HP's data center servers and storage sales figures are higher now than they were a couple of years ago, but the company still has to work overtime to make sales outside its existing customer base, according to Greg Schulz, analyst at The StorageIO Group.

"They do a good job selling into their base, but they need to turn the tables and sell into EMC accounts, sell storage into a customer with a Sun system," he said. "They also have to increase their attach rates so they sell HP storage when they sell HP servers, rather than let the storage go to HDS or IBM or whatever. They need to catch more of that across all price bands."

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The new version of PartnerOne increases a partner's margin every time that partner exceeds one of a series of sales goals or receives additional technical certifications covering HP servers and storage.

HP is also easing requirements within its program for partners selling to the federal government to allow them to qualify for Storage Elite and Blade Elite status -- which bring additional discounts and benefits.

In addition, HP is making it easier for server and storage partners to get paid by cutting out some of the red tape in its Attach Plus Update program, through which partners receive rebates on sales of HP products. The new version rewards partners for every dollar's worth of HP gear they sell; the older version used a payment structure that increased only as partners passed specific sales goals.

Taken as a whole, the changes only indicate that HP is increasing its commitment to indirect sales and working to keep partners on its team, according to Janet Waxman, a channel business analyst at IDC.

"Overall, [HP] is doing fine," she said. "They're just securing their borders."

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