HP/HPE GLOBAL PARTNER CONFERENCE — The expo floor at the joint HP/HPE 2016 Global Partner Conference had something for everyone, from sexy gaming systems to 3D scanning, to a deep dive into HPE’s newly announced network procurement and consumption pricing schemes. The invite-only event drew some 1,300 partners, along with a bizarre modern-dance act staged by rival Dell EMC outside the Boston Convention and Expo Center on Tuesday, as attendees arrived for president and CEO Meg Whitman’s keynote.
Among the event’s highlights:
The rather sparse (attendee-wise) show floor reflects a shift in focus that Channel Partners has observed by HPE and other vendors from quantity of partners to quality — translated as earning certifications and competencies (several of which were announced at the event), generating sales across the portfolio, and supplementing products with value-added services to increase stickiness. Higher metal designations earn deeper discounts and fatter margins.
There’s no doubt HPE needs all of its partners to make sales, preferably lucrative ones — the company saw third-quarter revenue dip by 6 percent overall year over year, to $12.2 billion, some $440 million shy of analyst estimates.
To see what the company hopes will turn that ship around, we took a stroll around the show floor.
For its 2016 Global Partner Conference, HP took over the cavernous Boston Convention and Expo Center and split the floor into three sections, surrounded by a warren of meeting rooms. The HP zone included a selection of PCs; a variety of printers, both 3D and traditional; and demo areas for various verticals, including education and retail.
In the center were sponsors, including diamond-level underwriters Intel, Microsoft and Synnex.
HPE displays on trends, including hyperconvergence and software-defined networking, dominated the remainder of the floor, except for a set-aside for the high-end HP Omen gaming systems.
Guess where lines were longest?
Synnex is HP’s largest North American distribution partner and was a Diamond-level sponsor. At the event, Synnex SVP of commercial sales, Steven Jow, told Channel Partners that software-defined networking is a key area of focus for the distributor. SDN was also a major topic for keynoter Antonio Neri, EVP and GM of HPE’s enterprise group. Neri announced on Tuesday a new partnership with Arista Networks that he says expands on the companies’ previous HPE Converged Architecture agreement. Beginning Nov. 7, HPE partners can sell Arista switching products.
Arista is also on Synnex’s line card.
Another focus for the distributor is retail point-of-sale systems, and HP had a retail experience area featuring a variety of RPOS hardware, including a convertible model for on-site and mobile sales.
Unification of the Aruba PartnerEdge and HPE Networking programs under the Partner Ready for Networking banner made news at the show, and was likely of interest to Ingram Micro partners given the disti’s status as Aruba’s 2016 North America Distributor of the Year.
Ingram Micro is also a preferred distribution partner for HPE servers, storage, networking, software and services and was a Gold level sponsor, along with AMD, Arrow, Avnet and Tech Data.
Earlier this year at HPE Discover 2016, Avnet introduced a services portfolio to help channel partners sell and implement HPE’s Synergy composable infrastructure solution — the logical endgame of the software-defined data center, presenting infrastructure as code. Cisco has a competing strategy.
“The HPE Synergy solution, combined with services from Avnet and our partners, opens exciting new ways for partners to provide value to the customer, and ultimately, their users,” Greg Peterson, vice president of Avnet’s HPE solutions business in the Americas, told Channel Partners. “By having capabilities in these areas, it increases partners’ abilities to become involved with their customers on the strategic direction of IT, creates a way to rapidly provision infrastructure for their customers and allows for continuous deployment.”
There’s even a hashtag – #AvnetGetComposable – and explainer infographic.
A few weeks ago Arrow announced a deal with Equinix to offer Microsoft Azure instances running on HPE Helion CloudSystem hyper-converged hardware, with HPE OneView management software. The idea is to offer preconfigured hybrid clouds that partners can quote, order and provision through ArrowSphere, Arrow’s online marketplace.
It wasn’t just distributors angling for partner attention. Arista, Citrix, Brocade, NTT, ShoreTel, Veeam, VMware and Zerto also had booth space.
NTT in June announced its own managed private cloud solutions, available now to joint HPE/NTT customers in the U.S.
To help partners meet customer demands for reduced capital costs and speedier scaling, HPE Aruba announced three new consumption and procurement models: Network as a Service, Managed Service, and Cloud-based Networking. The new options apply across the full portfolio of Wi-Fi, BLE, wired and wide-area network (WAN) connectivity products as well as consulting, support and integration services.
Another trend: 11 new channel competencies around the HPE Partner Ready program. Read more here.
HPE recognizes that social-media marketing can be a weak point for partners. In response, it’s rolling out HPE Partner Ready Social Media Center, available to partners only. The site will offer images, thought-leadership pieces, infographics, YouTube videos, white papers and other social media assets.
In a demo, HPE showed off its own Twitter app that lets partners customize and pre-schedule tweets.
News of the demise of PC and printer hardware seems to be overstated, at least based on the HP side of the show floor. Besides the hot new Omen gaming laptops, partners got a glimpse of HP’s new A3 printer portfolio, which the company says represents a $5 billion market opportunity for U.S. partners.
HP also announced new partner training that certifies partners to help their customers evaluate and launch HP Device as a Service PC life-cycle management.
Whiz-bang demo of the floor goes to the 3D scanning in the education vertical experience area. The tech, based on HP’s recent acquisition of David Vision Systems GmbH and David 3D Solutions, will forward HP’s Sprout initiative that the company promises will allow anyone to “grab something from the real world, manipulate it in the digital world, and bring it to life in physical space.”
We can already see the patent lawyers sharpening their fangs.