Prime Position

Hewlett Packard Enterprise lays out a bold channel strategy for 2019 and how it is priming partners for success in the Middle East

Hewlett Packard Enterprise  (www.hpe.com), HPE Middle East, Channel, Systems Integrators, Digital transformation, Fabio Fontana, Kinda Baydoun
ITP Media Group

Talk us through how HPE business has been in the last 12 months?

Fabio Fontana: HPE is very well-known in the IT industry for having a very strong and stable channel ecosystem, and this is mainly due to the rich landscape of resellers and distributors as well as our well-established Partner Ready Programme. The HPE Middle East channel team has been working closely with our channel partners to align their 2018 priorities with our “Super Six Sales Opportunities” that HPE worldwide team identified in the beginning of fiscal year 2018. This includes: (Everything as a Service, Intelligent Edge, Blades Plus, Gen10 transition, Shift to software-defined and Storage to Flash).

What were the major milestones that HPE together with partners achieved in 2018?

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Kinda Baydoun: We achieved many milestones with our channel partners in 2018 in the Middle East, to name the top three: All our Platinum and Gold partners (depending on their areas of focus) were enabled and empowered to sell and support strategic products and services in line with HPE strategy, such as HPE Synergy, Simplivity, Nimble, and GreenLake. Fiscal year 2018 was marked with many success stories touching all three products.

Together with top partners and alliances (mainly with systems integrators and independent software providers) we created a three dimension engagement model where we match the HPE Super Six Sales Opportunities with our partners and alliances focus areas in order to have the best route to market approach, leveraging on the skills of each party.

Together with our top partners and HPE Pointnext team, we created an HPE-Partner co-delivery model.

How would you describe the HPE channel business across the region?

Fabio Fontana: As always, the HPE channel business is very solid and consistent in the Middle East. We have a very strong channel ecosystem which depends on very big and loyal resellers and distributors. We are also investing in medium and small companies through our simplified partner on-boarding process and, Engage and Grow Programme, in order to expand our reach and focus on new revenue streams. Overall, our channel business in the Middle East witnessed a very good year with a remarkable performance from our Platinum and, Silver and Below (S&B) partners.

What percentage of HPE overall business in the Middle East goes through partners?

Fabio Fontana: HPE has an unwavering commitment to the channel with a long history that has built trust and loyalty from our partners. Globally we sell, on average, over 70% of our business through our channel partners and in the Middle East it is now 100% channel fulfilment.

Given the current business climate and the volatility in the regional channel, where has HPE been urging its partners to focus on?

Kinda Baydoun: We live in a very disruptive market where digital transformation is impacting all businesses, so one of HPE’s main priorities is to build and maintain a strong alliance ecosystem to help us cater more of these customers’ needs and we enable and urge our partners in the same direction. In HPE Middle East, we sit with the management of our partners during the annual ‘Joint Business Plan’ period to identify mutual focus areas aligned with both companies’ strategies and priorities.

Antonio Neri, CEO at HPE, recently outlined HPE’s strategy for bringing edge, cloud and intelligent storage to create the innovative enterprise of the future. Could you elaborate on what this strategy?

Fabio Fontana: As mentioned by our CEO Antonio Neri, the future is going to be all about the edge and distributed cloud. The cloud has to move closer to where things are happening so the digital transformation really starts at the edge. More than 60% of the data is generated at the edge and it has been predicted that two years from now, we are going to have twice the amount of data we generated in human history. That is a massive opportunity, but the connectivity is required at the edge and the compute capacity at the edge in the form of cloud architecture is going to be a significant opportunity for us and for our channel partners.

What will be HPE’s key focus in 2019?

Fabio Fontana: During Discover 2018 (one of our major customers and partners event) that took place in Las Vegas in June 2018, we announced the global launch of the new GreenLake Flex Capacity services for partners. This is a “momentous” occasion given that it makes the first pay-per-use IT services model built by and for partners. This new HPE pay-per-use channel model, which is available globally, provides a robust rebate incentive aimed directly at addressing cash flow issues that have hampered the ability of many partners to move from a capital expenditure reseller model to a recurring revenue services model. Our focus in 2019, is to enable and empower our partners (starting with the UAE) to have IT consumption discussions and help them drive digital transformation with our joint customers.

How is HPE addressing the skills challenge?

Kinda Baydoun: In this disruptive market, the only way to survive is to develop expertise around focused areas and to build a strong alliances ecosystem to be able to respond to all customers’ needs and to help them in their digital journey together. This has been HPE Middle East direction since 2015, and we are pushing our channel partners to have the same approach by supporting them in connecting with other market players and identifying synergies to cover all required skills.

What channel programmes is HPE rolling out in 2019?

Kinda Baydoun: We are currently busy running our annual Joint Business Plan meetings with our channel partners during which we will map our priorities and identify synergies. Each Top and Growth partner will run up to three initiatives in line with our updated initiatives (Redefine Experiences at the Edge, Right Mix of Hybrid Cloud, Storage to Intelligent Flash, Unlock Data with Artificial Intelligence, Transform IT with Software-defined, and Everything as a Service).

From a programmes perspective, this year our PartnerReady Programme will focus on developing our partners’ solutions skills (pre-sales, sales, implementation and support) rather than product-focused skills only, by introducing competencies (such as Cloud Automation, High Performance Computing, Business Continuity and Data Protection, Workplace Experience and may others), which will be mandatory for partners to acquire in order to maintain their specialisation status.

What will drive growth for HPE in 2019?

Fabio Fontana: As outlined in the Partner Ready Programme updates for fiscal year 2019, we have identified high-growth products and services that will drive business for us and our channel partners. These areas range from composable and hyper-converged solutions such as HPE Synergy and HPE SimpliVity, to storage solutions such as HPE Nimble Storage and HPE 3PAR, to software solutions such as HPE OneView and HPE OneSphere, to services led solutions such as HPE GreenLake and HPE Datacenter Care.

This is an opportunity that will help our channel partners’ move into a services-led conversation with the customer.

What is HPE’s competitive advantage?

Kinda Baydoun: HPE was the first to market with a simple, profitable and predictable partner programme. Our industry leading Partner Ready Programme reflects emerging market trends with a set up that will enable our solution provider partners to be successful in a rapidly changing market. We reward partner investment and enable them to unlock higher membership levels and accompanying benefits faster and easier than before. This will continue this year and it’s our compelling competitive edge.

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