HP connects VARs, service providers with Cloud Agile program

CloudsLAS VEGASHP sees a $143 billion (U.S.) opportunity in the cloud, and Tuesday unveiled a new partner program, Cloud Agile, it says will help its partners – VARs and service providers alike – find those opportunities.

To be fair, that $143 billion target is a moving figure. Steve Dietch, vice president of cloud solutions and infrastructure at HP, said it’s based on HP’s own internal estimates, but the figure is “changing every day” as the very definition of cloud continues to evolve, to say nothing of the opportunity around it.

Introduced at HP’s Discover event here, the Cloud Agile program is targeted at service providers, but HP is taking a much broader definition of that term than the common telcos that come to mind. Yes, telcos will be an important part of the program, but the program is aimed at “everybody looking to deliver IT as a service,” which includes managed service providers and VARs.

“Service providers are struggling with ways to effectively go after new opportunities in the cloud,” said Frances Guida, marketing manager for CloudSystem at HP. “We’re trying to expand the reach of the cloud provider market.”

The program will offer benefits under five pillars, HP said.

  • Extending sales reach by creating incentive for HP’s direct sales staff and its VAR and integrator partners to work with cloud service providers to develop opportunities. More on this a bit later.
  • Capturing new markets through hosting CloudSystem technology, providing “bursting” capabilities for business, delivering disaster recovery as a service and parts of HP Software’s portfolio on a SaaS basis.
  • Cloud-specific go-to-marketing planning and market development funds
  • Inclusion in HP’s CloudSystem catalogue of cloud-based services.
  • Financing, training and certification. Many pieces are already in place, Guida suggested, and many more will be brought on line throughout 2011.

While it’s focused on those building out cloud solutions for their own customers, Cloud Agile will also have ramifications for HP’s partners who don’t see themselves as service providers. According to Guida, a big part of the program will involve creating incentives for Cloud Agile partners to work in a co-selling motion with HP’s ESSN direct sales force and its VAR partners alike.

In terms of direct sales, that means changing incentive programs to make it attractive for salespeople to work with partners when their customers want a service provider to deliver new cloud-oriented solutions. And for channel partners, that means brokering connections between cloud service providers and solution providers.

In both cases, Guida said HP has been doing the same things on an ad hoc basis with some partners in some situations, but is looking to make it more programmatic with Cloud Agile. In fact, going broader with the program is a major goal. It’s the company’s first partner program in the cloud space that crosses all the boundaries of its enterprise business, including all of the company’s products and services for business.

“We’ve had programs from storage, from servers, from networking, from Software, but we recognize that service providers are not looking for piece-parts when it comes to cloud,” Guida said.

The program is a three-tiered affair.

  • At the base, the Business level will offer self-serve services including training, virtual demo capabilities.
  • The next step up, Select, will also be a very broad group of partners, Guida suggested, with more benefits including co-selling activities with partners. It will come with a sales threshold, although Guida said as the cloud is a huge growth opportunity, that threshold will consider a partner’s entire HP business and not just its cloud services business.
  • And at the top of the program, Premier, an invitation-only small group of partners that will be invited based on their close relationship with HP. Benefits will include close executive support, joint marketing and targeted account engagement, Guida said.

Launch partners include U.S.-based telco giant Verizon, integrator SHI International and others. While partnerships announced today are all U.S.-based, Guida said HP is working with partners in many regions, Canada included, to bring them into the Cloud Agile ranks.

“We will have partners in all major geographies by the end of 2011,” she said.

Today, Cloud Agile is hosted under the AllianceOne umbrella of partner programs. Guida said that’s largely because it’s a truly global program, unlike the North American focus of the PartnerOne umbrella. She did hint, however, that it might be moved to under PartnerOne eventually.

And while details of HP’s much-talked-about public cloud strategy are yet to emerge aside from constant, vague statements from CEO Léo Apotheker, Franca said that once details become available “it is safe to assume” that HP’s public cloud will be included in the Cloud Agile program.