HP opens Canadian Centre of Excellence to partners

Rob Adley, vice president of enterprise server sales, HP Canada

Rob Adley, vice president of enterprise server sales, HP Canada

It’s been building up all year, but HP Canada is at the point in development of its Canadian Centre of Excellence that it recently took a group of technology media types (yours truly included) on a tour.

The facility is part executive briefing room, part demonstration data centre, and part brainstorming “war room” – in fact, those are the three aspects of the Centre of Excellence. The idea is to create as close to a “real world” environment as is possible to illustrate both the technology and the business logic behind bigger, more abstract technology concepts like cloud and converged infrastructure.

“We’re a technology company, and we’re focused on technology and solutions, but to be successful in complex areas like cloud where customers are transforming their environments, it really helps to create that immersive experience,” said Dave Third, manager of the Centre of Excellence.

The Centre has its origins almost a year ago, when the company set out to build a live demo facility. That quickly morphed into more features with the Centre of Excellence concept.

In its mini-data centre, the company proudly shows off its Gen8 servers, a range of storage products including its 3Par line, and its family of networking gear from 3Com to ProCurve.

But if the data centre is the head of the facility, then the briefing room is the heart. Here, HP hosts demonstrations of a variety of solutions, including cloud, converged infrastructure, digital hospital, and unified communications. It also hosts “thought leadership seminars” that touch on the business and the technology side, featuring executives from both HP Canada and Palo Alto (and elsewhere.)

The idea, said Third, is to create an “open environment” that can show off real-world situations and make the complex comfortable. It’s doing that with the help of a variety of its partners, including Intel, AMD, Microsoft, SAP, and VMware, with the intention to bring more in the near future. And although its clearly focused on HP’s Enterprise Business unit, the centre pulls in some of the best new offerings from Printers and Personal Systems, including big-screen displays and endpoint devices. Third’s overall philosophy – demo everything, and do it for real.

“We really wanted to create the environment that allows our customers to see this live, rather than PowerPoint and Flash demos,” Third said. “There’s a little bit of Murphy’s Law that can bite you there, but customers are responding to it.

Indeed, he reported, HP is already seeing customers coming in, having the experience, and “closing on the deal within 24 hours.”

The Centre has been open since April, building up its presence and getting bookings, both from HP and from its partner community.

“We’re getting busier and busier each week,” said Rob Adley vice president of enterprise server sales at HP Canada, although later added that it’s still a “reasonably quick” process for VARs to bring customers in. And that’s exactly what partners are doing, he reports. Some have come in for their own educational processes, but much more frequently, solution providers are coming in with customers – doing demonstrations of some of the solutions featured in the Centre, showing off both the business benefit and the hardware and software behind it.

“When you get a bunch of people around the table looking at different solutions, different architectures, and best practices, that creates a lot of conversations that can be healthy to solve real business problems,” he said.

To date, he reports channel partners are typically coming into the centre with single-customer opportunities, although HP itself has done multi-customer education-focused events, and it appears to be supportive of channel partners doing the same thing in the centre in the future. Partners can book time in the centre via their partner business manager.