HP to bring Catalyst for Change promo to Canada

Marius Haas HP

HP Networking chief Marius Haas

HP is preparing its headline-grabbing “Catalyst for Change” promotion to Canada by the end of February, the vendor has confirmed.

The promotion gained a lot of attention when it was launched in the United States late last year, the latest volley in an increasingly bitter rivalry between the two technology giants over the data centre space. As its name suggests, Catalyst for Change offers customers incentives to trade in Cisco Catalyst networking gear for HP Networking’s own products.

Corey Copping, marketing manager for HP Networking in Canada, said the vendor is “targeting to have that program up here by March 1st.”

HP Networking boss Marius Haas called Catalyst for Change “the tip of the iceberg,” and that the company continues to actively court top Cisco partners for its own line of networking wares. And a lot of credit for that, in Haas’ estimation, goes to the company’s Converged Infrastructure strategy, which brings together the vendor’s servers, storage and networking in an across-the-data-centre battle with Cisco.

“Gold and silver partners are coming aboard much faster than we expected,” Haas said. “They’re telling us they want to be part of the transformation, that they don’t want to end up bidding only one solution and not go after every deal that’s out there.”

And while partners are coming on board “every week,” Haas said the company has to maintain a careful balance not to over-saturate the market for partners. In fact, he maintains that by keeping channel ranks a little thinner than his competition in terms of total numbers, HP is creating greater opportunity for those it is working with.

“We see scenarios where we’ve got one HP partner bidding and seven Cisco partner bidding for the same business against each other,” he said. “And the one who’s bidding HP feels pretty good about it, because they’re able to differentiate their value proposition against the others.”

Haas says networking partners can make “at least 10 per cent more margin vis-a-vis the competition,” and says partners are successful by tying the networking sale back to the broader Converged Infrastructure play. Partners coming over from Cisco are quick to ramp up, having the background of networking sales. And even those who are new to HP’s networking lineup aren’t necessarily new to HP – Haas said “almost all” of the Cisco VARs the company has recruited have already been selling HP gear elsewhere, particularly in the server and storage arenas.

That said, Haas also welcomes partners who don’t have a track record in networking, but are strong HP partners in other fields. “One of our top partners today hadn’t done any networking sales a year ago, but they came to us with a plan, they committed and asked us to commit, and we build the business,” Haas said.

Haas called the Catalyst for Change program part of HP Networking’s efforts to increase the pipeline for its channel partners. And in turn, Haas wants the company’s partners to help make sure HP is “showing up in every deal that’s out there from SMB to the enterprise.” Making sure HP’s on the table every time is “job one,” Haas said, and key to continuing the hearty growth HP has enjoyed in the space.

For 2010, the company saw 50 per cent organic growth for its networking offerings. But factor in its enterprise networking growth since it finalized its purchase of 3Com last April, and that figure jumps to 227 per cent. Haas said the company has grown share in every category in which it competes, including single-digit growth in key head-to-head areas: 2.2 per cent in switching, 3.8 per cent in wireless, around one per cent in enterprise routers.

Goals for HP’s fiscal 2011 include a focus on network virtualization, performance enhancement, simplification of network architecture and the cloud, part of a bid to help clients focus on technology innovation.

“We’ve got an unbelievable R&D engine with us, so you’ll be hearing a lot more from us this year,” he said. “The goal is to show up in more deal so that every customers can hear our story and partner with us.”