Hewlett Packard Enterprise—a perennial channel leader with its Partner Ready program—is upping the ante in the cloud services battle with Partner Ready Vantage, its first everything-as-a-service ecosystem channel program.
“As the customers evolve and we evolve the strategy to support them, it is critical that the channel program follows suit,” said HPE Worldwide Channel Chief and Head of Partner Sales George Hope (pictured) in an interview with CRN US. “So we need to be as innovative on the program side and build off our industry-leading Partner Ready program.”
The program, which was unveiled at HPE Discover, does not yet include new incentives but is rather the starting point of a three-year “North Star” vision and framework for the GreenLake ecosystem. The program will be rolled out in phases with the first details coming at the start of HPE’s new fiscal year on 1 November.
In the meantime, HPE is maintaining its Partner Ready program for the foreseeable future with traditional robust GreenLake incentives like the 17 percent up-front rebate on GreenLake deals.
The new unified everything-as-a-service program includes the full range of GreenLake partners from influencers that do not want to sell hardware or deliver services to born-in-the-cloud providers to ISVs.
HPE is “doubling down” on partners that are evolving quickly to deliver consumption-based cloud services to customers while at the same time maintaining the core Partner Ready channel program for those that are not ready to make the big GreenLake cloud services bet, said Hope.
“We want to make sure that we are leading the charge in helping the ones that are ready to evolve today and we also have a home for those that still have customers that are focused more on our core offerings,” said Hope. “So we are trying to double down on the ones that are ready today without leaving the rest behind.”
HPE’s Partner Ready Vantage differentiator: letting partners play in the complete customer life cycle
HPE’s new Partner Ready Vantage program lets partners participate in the entire customer services life cycle, a big differentiator versus competing as-a-service models, said HPE Vice President of Worldwide Partner Programs and Operations Jesse Chavez.
“Our program recognizes that a partner participates in the entire life cycle, unlike other programs that you have seen in the marketplace,” said Chavez.
Providing partners a framework to participate in the full customer life cycle from landing the deal to adopting and implementing to expanding with additional cloud services and finally to renewing the customer relationship is a central tenet of the new ecosystem program, said Chavez. “We are going to reward partners for the customer life cycle whether it is land, adopt, expand or renew,” he said.
“Partners have to build out their skill sets to be able to deliver that customer lifetime value,” said Chavez. “At the end of the day, a partner wants to acquire the customer but they want to own them for life. They want to have a relationship for life.”
HPE has won high praise from partners for providing a partner-led Everything-as-a-Service sales motion that is aimed at driving recurring revenue for partners.
The HPE ecosystem program is designed to spark partners to offer their own intellectual property and branded services on the GreenLake cloud platform, said Chavez. “Having the partners delivering their own branded services on top of GreenLake is going to be the key as we go forward,” he said. “We have to recognize those partners that can actually deliver their branded services on top of GreenLake.”
Uniting HPE and Aruba portfolio in an edge-to-cloud Partner Ready Vantage program
The HPE Partner Ready Vantage program for the first time unites both HPE and Aruba portfolios in an end-to-end edge-to-cloud channel program.
In fact, the new Partner Ready Vantage portal features HPE GreenLake and Aruba offerings. What’s more, the first Centers of Expertise are based on Aruba’s customer success, managed services and professional services offerings.
Aruba, in fact, built out the Centers Of Expertise model to power the partner Everything-as-a-Service transformation. That includes offerings aimed at helping partners expand their services footprint.
“We are working with partners to really help them build out their practices around these areas, so we’re providing much more deep enablement that is more practice-building-focused versus just product- and solution-based training,” said Beth Jensen, director of worldwide channel programs at Aruba.
Partners can choose whether to deliver their services under their own brand or under the HPE GreenLake or Aruba brand going forward, she said. “We’re really enabling them to drive their own services business moving forward,” she said.
Partners can continue to participate in Partner Ready and Partner Ready Vantage, said Jensen. New partners focusing solely on services may decide just to participate in Partner Ready Vantage, she said. “They will decide where they want to engage and play based on their go-to-market and business models that they are dealing with,” she said.
The unification of Aruba and HPE under Partner Ready Vantage comes just three months after Aruba unleashed new HPE GreenLake Network-as-a-Service (NaaS) offers now available with flex-up and flex-down options.
Aruba is offering partners four primary channel models: a partner assessment and design model with standardised and modular service packs that can be configured by partners in three- to five- year subscription models; a fulfilment model that gives the partner the ability to sell the service but have Aruba fulfil it; a model for the customer to contract service levels with a partner; and finally a model where partners and Aruba team together with partners providing monthly billing and day one services for the customer.
Aruba has provided a back-end rebate structure of 11 percent compared with the HPE GreenLake 17 percent up-front rebate. But Aruba has emphasized that the more services a partner chooses to wrap around the GreenLake NaaS offerings, the higher margins they can achieve.
The Partner Ready Vantage HPE GreenLake-Aruba channel unification comes with HPE now leveraging Aruba Central as the foundation of the single unified GreenLake.HPE.com edge-to- cloud platform. Adding Aruba Central to the GreenLake platform brings more than 120,000 customers to GreenLake.
HPE for the first time will reward GreenLake influencers
The unified Everything-as-a-Service Partner Ready Vantage program for the first time recognizes influencers and advisers that are playing a role in the Everything-as-a-Service market but are not reselling HPE products or services.
The unified program opens the door to born-in-the-cloud providers and ISVs that do not want to resell hardware.
“We can now capture partners that do not want to transact, which is the traditional program,” said Chavez. “They are the born-in-the-cloud influencers like the [systems integrators] and some of the software companies that don’t want to sell any hardware.”
The new ecosystem program is a sharp break from traditional medallion-based programs that largely reflected transactional hardware sales in the channel.
“We know there are a lot of influencers,” said Chavez. “When it comes to as-a-service, there are people that are born in the cloud and don’t want anything to do with the hardware transaction.”
In the past, systems integrators did not want to be involved in the sale of hardware, said Chavez. Many of them are now buying gear from HPE and putting their own managed services around the GreenLake offering, he said.
A powered by GreenLake model for partners
A new powered by GreenLake business model is emerging in which the GreenLake cloud services platform is embedded into a partner’s managed services offering. “They sell their offering,” said Hope. “Our offering just happens to be embedded in their offering.”
HPE, in fact, is encouraging partners to leverage the Partner Ready Vantage program to build and lead with their own intellectual property centred around GreenLake. “We want to encourage partners to lead with their IP, to create solutions based on our technology, not necessarily just sell our technology,” said Hope.
One of HPE’s top partners based in Germany is already using the powered by GreenLake model, said Hope. “It is their solution powered by GreenLake,” he said. “GreenLake is the foundation that enables them to drive their solution.”
The embedded offering comes with a massive shift to the managed services provider model in the channel. “Everybody is becoming a service provider,” he said. “Everybody is creating managed [services] offerings in some way, shape or form, whether they are managing something owned by somebody else or they are owning it and managing it.”
Recognising partners with multiple personas
The new ecosystem program resists putting partners into narrow boxes based on partner type such as reseller, systems integrator, managed services provider, born-in-the-cloud provider or ISV.
In the ecosystem era, partners will have multiple personas from influencer or adviser to reseller to systems integrator and even to ISV, said Chavez.
“At the end of the day, partners are going to have multiple personas as we go forward and multiple business models to support that,” said Chavez. “That is going to be a critical piece that we need to start recognizing. It is not about what they are called but what they do: They either embed, build, provide services, they are selling, they integrate. It is more the verbs that we are moving to versus the classifications we give partners.”
The new ecosystem program is centered on partner business models rather than traditional classifications like reseller, systems integrator or ISV, said Hope. “It is more about what they do than what they are,” he said. “What we are seeing is that they all have multiple business models. So you’ll see a partner that is a reseller and a managed service provider and a consultant that also does AppDev. They have multiple personas.”
CRN parent The Channel Company’s IPED has conducted research that shows partners on average have 4.7 different personas. “We are building the strategy around multiple personas and the fact that there is an evolution,” said Hope.
New Partner Ready Vantage tracks: build, sell and service
The new Partner Ready Vantage program features three primary tracks: build, sell and service.
Each of those tracks features Centers of Expertise that will provide enablement, training, sales tools and go-to-market initiatives.
The build track is designed for partners to integrate with HPE technology leveraging “tested and prepackaged solutions” from HPE and HPE partners including ISVs. It also includes partners developing their own applications using HPE open platforms.
The sell track is designed for partners to sell a wide range of as-a-service solutions across the HPE portfolio.
The service track is designed for partners to sell services across the full customer life cycle including consulting, assessment, design, integration, deployment, migration, support and management.
The Centers of Expertise for the build and sell tracks along with new Hybrid Cloud Service Centers of Expertise will become available to partners over the next year.
Delivering lifetime customer value: customer success managers
With the shift to the Everything-as-a-Service model, partners are going to be measured on their ability to deliver a simplified and consistent cloud experience with an emphasis on driving customer lifetime value, said Chavez.
Key to driving value across the full customer life cycle are customer success managers who will ensure the customer is deriving maximum benefit from their cloud services, said Chavez.
“ARR [annualized revenue run rate] customer success managers are becoming a really defining attribute on driving the customer life cycle,” said Chavez. “Partners have to build out their skill sets to be able to deliver that customer lifetime value. At the end of the day, a partner wants to acquire the customer but they want to own them for life.”
HPE is focused on driving more partners to offer their own services on top of GreenLake while ensuring that the bar is set for a consistent customer cloud experience, said Chavez. “We want to make sure the partners delivering the services on GreenLake are meeting that bar,” he said.
Offering customers choice in the everything-as-a-service era
The new unified program gives customers the ability to consume HPE’s Everything-as-a-Service offerings in a traditional transactional model, a GreenLake pay-per-use model or a subscription model, said Chavez.
“We want the customer to consume it any way they want to, and we want the partner to be able to deliver it any way they need to,” he said. “So the program needs to be able to have the partner offer the customer choice, whether it is a traditional model, a subscription model or a consumption model. You’ll see that as part of the design.”
Ultimately, customers can choose whether to manage HPE cloud services on their own, have a partner manage it or have HPE itself manage the offering, said Chavez. Furthermore, he said, customers can consume it as either an operating expenditure or a capital expenditure.
HPE is increasingly offering customers the ability to purchase storage and compute as a subscription service.
In March, HPE rolled out what it called the industry’s first block storage as-a-service offering with a 100 percent data availability guaranteed on a cloud operational model.
The new GreenLake for Block Storage offering includes self-service provisioning that opens the door for partners, storage administrators or line-of-business executives to instantly self- provision storage.
HPE also set the stage for compute as a service with the HPE GreenLake for Compute Ops Manager, which provides partners and customers the ability to access, monitor and manage servers.
Leveraging Tech Pro, Sales Pro and Marketing Pro to transform the channel
HPE is driving the new Partner Ready Vantage enablement through its Tech Pro, Sales Pro and Marketing Pro professional development programs.
“We’re going to develop our enablement both on the Pro Series with Sales Pro, Tech Pro and Marketing Pro,” said Chavez. “It is going to be persona-based not [partner]-type-based whether you are a salesperson, adviser, consultant or integrator in those personas as individuals within the company. Not only is the company going to have multi-skill sets and business models but people obviously will have multi-skill sets. We are going to recognize that through Tech Pro as we go forward.”
In fact, HPE said it is updating and reimagining all three of the professional development offerings.
HPE Tech Pro, for example, has been updated with new technical job roles aimed at individuals looking to increase their cloud and managed services skills along with customer success capabilities for as a service.
HPE Sales Pro, meanwhile, has been updated with a personalized portal with individual certification status and training modules. It also includes an industry business value framework aimed at allowing sales professionals to better prepare for industry-focused conversations.
HPE said HPE Marketing Pro has also been updated to provide “easier access” to HPE marketing tools and content.
A new Partner Connect portal to drive Partner Ready Vantage
As part of Partner Ready Vantage, HPE has built a global portal that will drive customer-to-partner and partner-to-partner connections based on Everything-as-a-Service offerings.
The new Partner Connect, which combines five global partner locators into a single unified portal, is based on the HPE Cloud28+ Services platform. That Cloud28+ service provider catalog will now be combined with the full panoply of partners offering GreenLake services, said Chavez.
“We are taking that [Cloud28+] technology and we are now evolving it to include all our partners,” said Chavez. “That includes the new partners that are in the program to highlight the fact that they have service catalogs that can drive as-a-service specifically around GreenLake. So an Advizex, CBTS or PKA will like this because now the field is going to know about them and the customers are going to know about them.”
The new portal should open the door for HPE field reps to work more closely with partners delivering Everything-as-a-Service offerings, said Chavez.
“We are creating an environment where not only do we promote that from a customer perspective wherever they do business, but we promote them from a field perspective and from a go-to-market standpoint,” he said. “They can also be recognized by other partners that see their skill sets and may need them because we are also trying to create a partner-to-partner network.”