With 3Par onboard, HP turns to channel for storage play

Some four months after Hewlett Packard Co. (NYSE: HPQ) won a furious bidding war with Dell Inc. (NASDAQ: DELL) for storage vendor 3Par Inc., the vendor said the company and its channel have been fully on boarded and HP is ready to gain market share in a competitive storage arena.

After the acquisition of 3Par closed, its president and CEO David Scott was tapped by HP to lead its storage business as senior vice-president and general manager for HP StorageWorks. During a recent visit to Toronto, Scott told CDN the integration of the 3Par channel program and product portfolio is complete.

3Par’s approximately 100 channel partners worldwide have all been on-boarded with HP. As well, all of HP’s storage partners are now able to sell 3Par through their contracts. Scott said there’s been a lot of interest in education on both sides, with over 3000 partners having attended 3Par training since the acquisition closed.

“One of the advantages of being acquired by HP is the massive global reach and the partner breadth that HP has. We’ve had a fairly rapid integration,” said Scott. “We’re seeing a very strong ramp-up of our capacity.”

Having just come from a meeting with over 50 Canadian channel partners, Scott said the channel is excited about the well-rounded storage play that HP is now able to bring to market; a play HP is relying on the channel to help it execute.

“There’s a huge amount of excitement in our message around this new portfolio of products that HP has acquired (and developed),” said Scott, also mentioning HP’s earlier acquisition of storage area network (SAN) vendor LeftHand. “There’s an opportunity to expand our market share coverage and grow both more rapidly than the market, and more profitably.”

In Canada, HP has an even stronger position in the storage market said Dave Frederickson, vice-president of enterprise servers, storage and networking with HP Canada.

“We had higher market share in Canada because of solid adoption from our channel community,” said Frederickson. “We’ve rolled out extensive training though our distributors, Arrow and Avnet, and have additional certification programs that will lead into our ExpertOne portfolio that’s rolling out now.”

It’s the breath and scalability of HP’s storage offering, said Scott, that sets it up well to compete in the market. For partners, he said the opportunity is to build margin by focusing on value and escaping the “selling terabytes” model of traditional storage.

“The drive towards virtualization in deployment of storage is by far the biggest opportunity for reseller partners going forward,” said Scott. “The HP P4000 platform is optimized for virtualized deployments, moving up to public and private clouds with the 3Par platform.”

The increasing complexity of storage environments will provide opportunity for the channel said James Alexander, senior vice-president with Info-Tech Research Group. There’s an old saying in the channel, said Alexander: where there’s mystery, there’s margin.

“I think as we move from storage being a commodity to storage being a complex environment that involves a lot of tactical decisions about how I’m going to manage, deploy and consolidate in an environment that is increasingly sophisticated, there’s an opportunity for partners to differentiate themselves through their ability to do pre-sales support and consulting and their ability to help the customer manage a heterogeneous environment,” said Alexander.

HP’s storage play is built around four main thrusts: StoreOne is a de-duplication play, the x9000 Network Storage System addresses the data explosion, the P4000 SANs are a virtualization play, and 3Par brings a cloud and multi-tenancy service provider play.

“The great thing is as you make a thrust with each of these platforms you can also address adjacent areas such as the data explosion, de-duplication and back-up,” said Scott, which is another way for partners to add margin.

Frederickson added while it may sound cliché, partners are finding value by selling value, and meeting customer need.

“Get in there and better understand the pain-points and you can sell not by the terabyte but add value, and therefore earn more margin on a value sale,” said Frederickson.

Scott said HP’s strategy offers a compelling contrast to rival EMC Corp. (NYSE: EMC), which made a splash this week with a new unified storage play for the mid-market and SMBs.

“A lot of EMC’s announcements appear to be a repackaging of architectures that have existed for a long period of time, and trying to be bolted together into new solutions,” said Scott. “HP’s strategy has been to aggressively take the position that simply bolding old technologies and old architectures is not the way leadership in future data centres will be achieved.”

Rather, Scott said HP’s strategy has been distinct, to aggregate leading innovative storage technologies with new IP focused on the fastest growing segments of interest to customers, and bring it all together under one roof.”

Follow Jeff Jedras on Twitter: @JeffJedrasCDN.

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Jeff Jedras
Jeff Jedras
A veteran technology and business journalist, Jeff Jedras began his career in technology journalism in the late 1990s, covering the booming (and later busting) Ottawa technology sector for Silicon Valley North and the Ottawa Business Journal, as well as everything from municipal politics to real estate. He later covered the technology scene in Vancouver before joining IT World Canada in Toronto in 2005, covering enterprise IT for ComputerWorld Canada. He would go on to cover the channel as an assistant editor with CDN. His writing has appeared in the Vancouver Sun, the Ottawa Citizen and a wide range of industry trade publications.

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