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HPE Partner Summit 2017: Channel at the heart of hybrid IT strategy

HPE channel partners will soon see integrations of SGI, SimpliVity and Nimble Storage into the Partner Ready Program in addition to other channel changes.

LAS VEGAS -- Hewlett Packard Enterprise is making channel partners central to its redefined strategy to pursue hybrid IT opportunities, according to the vendor.

At the HPE Partner Summit, held yesterday, HPE CEO Meg Whitman emphasized the partner-centric aspects of HPE's strategy -- a strategy that she said is the clearest the company has had in many years. The company's strategy, she said, boils down to three things: to make hybrid IT simple, power the intelligent edge and bridge services expertise with partners to support joint customers.

"I truly believe the prospects of what we can achieve together are more limitless than they have ever been before. ... [Partners] are the core of the company that we are building," Whitman said. She added that more than 70% of HPE's infrastructure revenue flows through its channel ecosystem.

HPE's hybrid IT vision, she explained, is for applications working seamlessly together, whether they are on premises, off premises or on the edge. "[The hybrid IT trend] is fueling the emergence of software-defined infrastructure innovation, increasing requirements for multicloud data availability, and driving new ways to easily purchase and consume IT services. ... The reality is that while we keep hearing the hype that everything is moving to the public cloud, it's just not happening," she said.

Acquisitions update for HPE partners

The HPE Partner Summit shed light on the state of the company's many acquisitions made within the last year.

Our overall partner compensation will now take [competency] investments into account.
Denzil Samuelsglobal chief channel officer, Hewlett Packard Enterprise

HPE's recent spree of buyouts began with high-performance computing company SGI, which HPE acquired in November 2016. Next, HPE purchased SimpliVity, a hyper-converged infrastructure vendor, in January for $650 million. That same month, HPE bought Cloud Cruiser, a cloud cost management vendor, followed by the buyout of Niara, a user and entity behavior analytics security company, in February. In March, HPE snapped up Nimble Storage, paying $1.2 billion for the all-flash and hybrid array vendor.

"Most of the acquisitions are 100% channel. ... The acquisitions are augmenting the organic innovations that we do from an R&D standpoint," said Jesse Chavez, vice president of worldwide channel sales and alliances, enterprise group, at HPE.

Unlike its acquisition of Aruba Networks, which has an independent partner program under Partner Ready, HPE plans a full Partner Ready integration for its recent acquisitions.

SGI will have a phased introduction for HPE partners starting in July, Chavez said. He noted SGI was "not really a channel-centric company," but HPE expects that to change. He also said HPE has started to assimilate SGI's relatively small channel of roughly 200 partners to HPE Partner Ready.

As for SimpliVity, the DL380 product will be available for partners this month, with full Partner Ready integration on Nov. 1, said Denzil Samuels, HPE's global chief channel officer.

HPE also plans to merge Nimble into the HPE Partner Ready program by Nov. 1, Samuels said. However, starting this week, partners can offer hybrid, predictive flash products that mainly target small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs).

Meanwhile, HPE partners can expect availability of Niara products in early August and Cloud Cruiser integration in the November timeframe, Chavez said.

Ramping up focus on partner competencies

HPE introduced four new partners competencies at the conference to build on the framework rolled out at last year's Global Partner Conference.

The new competencies, which align with HPE's hybrid IT strategy, include infrastructure consolidation and virtualization, private cloud express, empower with SAP HANA, and secure virtual workspace. Additionally, following the HPE Partner Summit, partners can also expect to see competencies for Microsoft Azure Stack and enterprise application continuity with SAP, HPE said.

"What we intend to do with competencies is recognize those partners that already have ... capabilities [around solutions] or to train those partners that are on the traditional side to build those capabilities," Chavez said. He added HPE Partner Ready will eventually make competencies a requirement for ascending partner tiers.

Samuels echoed that point during the HPE Partner Summit's general session. "We are going to work on our partner program to align compensation and benefits to the partners that are delivering critical business outcomes for our customers. This approach that we are taking is going to recognize partners who are building capabilities, practices and solution areas that are rapidly growing and are critical to our joint customers' needs and future success," Samuels said. "Our overall partner compensation will now take [competency] investments into account."

According to HPE, partners will have access to a broad set of partner enablement assets to help them in the sales and support of competencies, such as reference architectures, solution guides, customer presentations and quick reference cards.

Partners achieve competencies by having three successful implementations of a particular solution and passing an exam, Chavez noted.

Specializations, which focus on products, will remain the same for Platinum and Gold partners; however, HPE looked to simplify specializations for Silver partners, which tend to focus on the SMB segment. To do so, HPE introduced a new Silver Data Center Specialization that partners can obtain after five days of training.

Next Steps

Learn about HPE's ambitions with Pointnext

Read a Q&A with HPE channel chief Denzil Samuels

Find out about HPE's partnership with Mesosphere

Dig Deeper on Channel partner program news