Channeling the Cloud
HP Helps Partners Build Cloud Expertise
Finally, the company enters a cloud market that's becoming increasingly crowded with other IT heavyweights, including IBM and Cisco.
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While Hewlett-Packard Co. is a latecomer to the cloud, the company is trying to make up for lost time. HP's new CEO Leo Apotheker has made clear the cloud will embody everything the company offers, from webOS-based TouchPads and phones to printers, PCs, and enterprise systems and services.
Apotheker insists he wants partners to sell HP's cloud-based solutions. The company's new CloudSystem Partner Program aims to enable solution providers to build enterprise cloud-computing expertise.
Kicked off at the HP Americas Partner Conference in Las Vegas in late March, the new CloudSystem Partner Program is focused on helping partners sell the HP CloudSystem portfolio, which consists of the company's Cloud Service Automation software, Cloud Maps configuration templates and its related BladeSystem Matrix hardware.
The program emphasizes helping partners sell internal private cloud solutions to enterprises, says Frank Rauch, VP of channel sales for the HP enterprise servers, storage and networking business. "That's where we're seeing a lot of the activity," Rauch explains.
To that end, HP has launched its Cloud Enablement Program, which offers training, certification and financial incentives that include leasing options for acquiring HP's "Converged Infrastructure" of servers, networking and storage solutions, along with the CloudSystem software portfolio.
"We're seeing a number of partners who want to build out their own cloud offerings," Rauch says. "Whether it's public, hybrid or whatever, we've put together a set of programs that utilize market development funds, hardware incentives, financing [and] engineering help to be able to help them build out their own clouds."
The company also will allow partners to sell its new Cloud Discovery Workshop, a service in which HP consultants meet with a customer to assess requirements and develop a cloud strategy. Right now, partners can sell the Cloud Discovery Workshop and sit in on the sessions, but they can't deliver the services. Over time, that will change, Rauch says. "We want to be able to make it scale out," he notes.
HP has talked up some large partners that are participating and investing in its new programs, including its Cloud Centers of Excellence. Rauch acknowledges the need to appeal to smaller partners: "To be honest with you, we're starting out with some big names, but we think it will scale over time."
Besides its impact on smaller partners, other questions about HP's cloud efforts remain. For example, what about that public cloud service Apotheker announced, and plans to roll it out by year's end or early 2012? Will HP let partners sell and implement services based on that new offering? "That's to be determined," Rauch says. "I can tell you, though, there's extremely strong commitment from the top down, to be able to channelize what we do."
That commitment not withstanding, HP must contend with a crowded pack of competitors that have launched similar programs (see last month's column, "Partners and the Cloud Transition: IT Heavyweights Roll Out Cloud Programs"). The challenge will be to make this work for the broader partner base while giving them a reason to invest in HP's program versus those of Cisco, IBM and others.
Jeffrey Schwartz is editor of Redmond magazine and also covers cloud computing for Virtualization Review's Cloud Report. In addition, he writes the Channeling the Cloud column for Redmond Channel Partner. Follow him on Twitter @JeffreySchwartz.