In its bid to drive its channel programme much more towards specialisation, pushing partners towards the cloud has been a key strand of HP’s plans.
The vendor’s latest cloud-centric move saw it unveil the CloudAgile programme for service provider partners, as well as a range of new certifications for technical staff and a refresh of its CloudSystem Matrix platform.
HP has also badged up the first five UK members of its Cloud Centre of Excellence (CCOE), an elite programme designed to house about 10 VARs with high expertise around the infrastructure technologies upon which private cloud platforms are built.
ChannelWeb caught up with UK and Ireland Enterprise Servers, Storage and Networking channel manager Kevin Matthews, and channel manager at HP Technology Services UK, Paul Early, to discuss the vendor’s progress in the cloud, its push towards specialisation and its plans for 2012.
ChannelWeb: Tell us about the CloudAgile programme; why launch it now?
Kevin Matthews: The CloudAgile programme is the formalisation of a partner programme for service providers. It is a full service provider programme. Some of the things [that] you would expect in a channel programme - MDF, account management, sales incentives - are all part of the programme. In Europe specifically there are certain countries that need local providers.
Are HP’s internal sales resources geared up for selling as-a-service technologies?
KM: We have a sales commission programme for our HP account managers that rewards them for when their customers go to a service provider, [not just for] buying the product and running it in-house. That has always been a difficult thing to get to grips with, and a lot of other vendors talk about this but do not actually do it.
Does the CloudAgile programme apply only to pure-play service providers, or is there scope for more traditional VARs to get involved?
KM: A number of these organisations will be pure service providers, but a number will be resellers that are getting into service provision. We are working with traditional resellers to make sure that, if there is a service provision offering they are looking to bring to market, it is an HP service.
How does CloudAgile work alongside the CCOE programme?
KM: CCOE is all about customers that want to have private clouds and those partners will be the best partners in the UK - subject-matter experts in deploying private cloud in HP technology. They are reselling their services based on HP.
What are the key channel engagements in the cloud from a services point of view?
Paul Early: There are two elements. One is going down the traditional route of part numbers, of selling through resellers. There are quite a lot of offerings, [including] a cloud discovery workshop. What these workshops are intended to do is for partners that want to sell their customers some form of cloud infra-structure. If you are a ServiceOne partner, you are also able to co-deliver and co-sell this.
We are also opening up of some of our crown jewel [consultancy] products. We have a road map that looks out another three years to bring more value and support [partners] in these [consultancy] environments.
What kinds of consultancy services will you look to open up to the channel?
PE: The first one is a security consultancy for cloud. This will be more of an engagement where they have a burning need to fix a problem, or fix a secure environment.
Obviously, that will be on a built-for-what’s-required basis, not a part number. Other areas include storage and the multi-tenancy capa-bility with 3Par. Networking will likely follow.
This summer you opened up a number of HP services for resale through the ServiceOne programme. What has uptake been like so far?
PE: We have about 30 UK partners that are now in ServiceOne. Of those, probably eight are at Expert level. We asked them very candidly what they think about the programme and they said it was a better programme, better road map: ‘we understand where we can make money, where we can deliver’.
One of HP’s key initiatives this year has been making the channel scheme more specialisation-focused and you have just released a batch of new technical badges for cloud. In a tough climate, how do you manage allowing partners to differentiate while not placing onerous financial and temporal demands on them?
Kevin Matthews (pictured): There is a couple of ways to answer that. When times get tough, the successful partners are the ones that continue to invest and increase their capability in both sales and technical training. I am not seeing any of these partners de-skill and scale back.
The second point is that the cost is not that of putting someone on a course, it is the cost of taking someone off the road. At HP we try to manage that [through non-classroom-based training]. We have also rationalised a number of specialisations, such as in networking.
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