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HP partner program splits into HP Partner First, HPE Partner Ready

Following Hewlett-Packard's company split, the HP partner program will break into two distinct programs: Partner First and Partner Ready.

With the official November 1 date of the Hewlett-Packard (HP) split looming, the company set the stage today at the Canalys Channels Forum in Barcelona for the two new HP partner programs that will go into effect next month.

Attempting to minimize anxiety for its worldwide base of partners, the vendor outlined details about HP Inc.'s Partner First program and Hewlett Packard Enterprise's (HPE) Partner Ready program, both built on the HP PartnerOne program foundation.

According to Vincent Brissot, vice president of worldwide channel marketing with printing and personal systems, and Patrick Eitenbichler, director of marketing for PartnerOne strategy, the company's goal is to preserve partner investments in trainings, certifications and partner-level status while making sure the new programs help partners transform, grow and prosper with the new companies.

HP Partner First Program

HP Inc.'s Partner First program is going to make it easier for partners to advance up the program tiers, an action taken in response to partner complaints about an overemphasis on HP revenue thresholds, according to Brissot.

Partner First will have three tracks: volume, solution and integration.

The Volume Track is designed to drive volume in three product categories: PCs, print and supplies. While partners will still have to meet revenue thresholds for the various program tiers, HP will allow partners to advance by attaining the revenue threshold in one of the three product categories.

"The criteria will be adapted to the business that the partner is driving," Brissot said.

We want to increase our partner's profitability … drive more demand generation and leads, and … enable [partners] to help their customers move to the new style of business.
Patrick EitenbichlerDirector of Marketing for PartnerOne strategy, HP

The second track, the Solution Track, is evolving from a focus on product specialization to solution specializations that align with HP Inc.'s strategic objectives in mobility and vertical technologies, managed print services, and support services.

"We're positioning the specializations so that partners can get closer to the customer with solutions rather than product," Brissot explained.

The Integration Track targets systems integrators and partners who lead with services. This track was designed to create a space for a new breed of partner that not only sells product but also develops solutions and services around a product, according to the vendor.

Partner certifications will be simplified in both the number and duration in 2016, but partners who are current on their certifications don't have to do anything until the certification expires. Certifications typically have a two-year life cycle.

Based on a figure of 200,000 partners worldwide in the printing and personal systems side of HP's business, Brissot expects that about 65% will move to the Volume Track, 20% to 25% to the Solution Track, and about 10% to the Integration Track.

HP Inc. will launch HP Sales Central, a portal for partner sales reps that will provide both content and tools. Content will include a presentation builder, campaign selectors, and industries solutions; information about new opportunities; information about competencies; and performance data.

Sales Central will be rolled out incrementally with content uniquely tailored to partners, according to the company. Likewise, the Partner First program goes into effect on November 1 and partners can expect to see updates throughout 2016.

HPE Partner Ready Program

From the get-go, Eitenbichler wants partners to know that all the investments they made to achieve Silver, Gold or Platinum HP partner program status on the Hewlett-Packard Enterprise side in 2015 will bring them rewards in 2016. For example, if a partner reached Platinum converged infrastructure status in 2015, they will get Platinum converged infrastructure benefits, rebates and rewards in 2016.

"Given that the company split creates a level of uncertainty for partners … we don't want to add to that," he said.

Still, partners will see program changes, or enhancements, as they move forward with the Partner Ready program. For starters, Partner Ready was framed across three pillars: profitability, demand and enablement.

"We want to increase our partner's profitability, we want to drive more demand generation and leads, and we want to enable them to help their customers move to the new style of business in order for them to succeed," Eitenbichler said.

Some strategies for how the vendor intends to do that include the following:

Profitability: HPE has created an additional option for partners to achieve Platinum status. In the past, to achieve Gold status partners needed to carry four specializations: servers, storage, networking and services. Going forward, that will change slightly. Partners will still need four specializations to achieve Gold status, but the requirement includes three core specializations -- servers, storage and services -- and a fourth specialization that partners can pick from the following: networking, Cloud Builder or IT operations on HP software side.

"The main reason we're doing that is because hybrid IT is a key initiative for HPE going forward and we want our partners to invest in becoming a Cloud Builder and building private clouds for their customers and be able to automate their environment," Eitenbichler said.

Another update is around the company's acquisition of Aruba Networks. HPE's goal is to bring Aruba partners into the HPE fold and get HP partners onboard with Aruba products. There are new incentives in place to do that. Also, expect to see the currently separate partner programs merge in November 2016. HPE will also recognize each company's certifications.

Additionally, the new Partner Ready International Program will offer streamlined export authorization, global pricing and simplified program requirements to partners serving multinational customers.

Demand: Partners will see a new Partner Locator that is mobile-enabled, making it easier for customers to find HPE partners in their geographic area.

Partners will also get an HPE Partner Ready insignia that shows their specializations.

Finally, the HP Helion Partner Marketplace (U.S. only), launched in June, will feature additional cloud services focused on Microsoft Office 365, backup as a service, and virus protection to help partners sell and provision cloud services.

Enablement: HPE will offer one single sales certification across the entire Enterprise Group, and it will be focused on the company's four transformation areas: hybrid IT, big data, security and workforce productivity. This new strategy eliminates a prior strategy that required nine different Enterprise Group sales certifications that focused on servers, storage and networking.

The vendor is also introducing Knowledge Credits to reward partners for continuous learning activities, such as attending new product introduction webinars or local sales training events, according to the company.

Some other enablement initiatives include new road shows to train partner sales teams on how partners can help their customers. The company will also simplify deal registration and special pricing processes and tools.

"Next year, there's no doubt that Hewlett Packard Enterprise will be focused on rewarding partners that sell across the entire portfolio," Eitenbichler said.

HP partner program split: More to know

The current HP Unison Partner Portal will be split, on November 1, into two partner portals: the HP Partner First portal and the HPE Partner Ready portal.

"Initially, all the functionality and capabilities will be the same because it's being replicated, but over time both portals will evolve," Eitenbichler said.

Partners doing business with both companies will have to log into each portal separately. On November 1, partners will be able to log in with their current information and will then be asked to change their password, according to Brissot.

Establishing new partner programs for HP Inc. and HPE will not happen without internal changes, as well. Each company will align their field resources to support their Platinum and Gold partners in particular and, from a territorial perspective, all other HP partners.

"In the past, the two organizations were separate, so these changes won't be drastic, but there will be a strong focus on our top partners in each geography," Eitenbichler said.

Finally, it makes sense that HPE has announced that senior vice president of HP Cloud, Kerry Bailey, will become the worldwide channel chief while Scott Dunsire retains his post as channel chief for the Americas. Channel leadership for HP Inc. includes Stephanie Dismore as channel chief for the Americas and Thomas Jensen as the worldwide channel chief.

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