New services track for partners highlights Aruba Partner Forum announcements

Aruba also reviewed recent partner-focused announcements, including the new Aruba service packs announced at the HPE GreenLake event on March 22.

Donna Grothjan, Aruba’s VP of Worldwide Channels

This week at the Aruba Partner Forum, part of the HPE Aruba Atmosphere event in Las Vegas, the company updated partners on new developments around the Aruba’s Partner Ready for Networking Program, including the Aruba components of the HPE GreenLake announcements made on March 22. They also announced the launch of a Services Track for partners, which was the major partner-focused announcement of the event.

“This new service track which we are launching has three components: Managed Services; Customer Success; and Professional Services,” said Donna Grothjan, Aruba’s VP of Worldwide Channels.

Grothjan said that Aruba has not had a services track previously, but that market changes make it an obvious move at this time. She cited recent data on how partners deliver to the market indicating that 28% of revenues come from resale,  with a gross margin of only 22.5%. Partner managed offerings are 43% of revenues, with a gross margin of 37%, while offerings which are both partner owned and managed are 29% of revenues, but have by far the highest gross margin, at 59%.

“Based on this, we believe that there will be a big growth in services,” Grothjan indicated.

Grothjan stressed that the three tracks are designed for separate business models, and not as a scaling ‘Silver-Gold-Platinum’ escalation from entry level to top tier.

Grothjan said that the Managed Services component is relatively similar to the partner program’s MSP component, but with a few additions.

“They now have additional benefits like access to our Airheads MSP Technical Community,” she indicated. “The Managed Services component acknowledges partners who just provide professional services, like design assessment and delivery consultants. It provides them with access to all our best practices, and there is specific training around it.”

The Customer Success component, on the other hand, does not have training or certification, but relies more on the partners’ own capabilities.

“Customer Success delivers an Aruba customer journey based on best practices,” Grothjan said. These in turn are based on the LAER [Land, Adopt, Expand, and Renew] model of the different stages in the customer engagement, and includes Customer Success playbooks and templates as well as best practices.

The Professional Services component is focused around Advanced Service Delivery training, and unlike the other two options, does have a certification component. It provides an Aruba Global Services Advisor and HTS coaching and oversight, as well as access to network design templates, best practices, and the Aruba technical community.

Jim Harold, Aruba’s VP of North American Channels

“This is targeted at top tier partners who are already heavily into services who want to expand their businesses, sharpen their skills and get closer to their technology,” said Jim Harold, Aruba’s VP of North American Channels.

In addition to the new Services Track announcement, Aruba also reviewed for the partner audience the recent changes that have taken place to expand their opportunities. Grothjan who has been in the VP of Worldwide Channels for six years, emphasized to partners at the event that Networking as-Service’s market opportunity is increasing steadily.

“NaaS adoption is growing rapidly,” she said. Citing a study of 1100 network decision makers commissioned by Aruba and conducted by IDC, it found that 69% of organizations will have deployed NaaS in some form by 2024.

“They also found that 34% are already deploying it, and that 60% will definitely be  funding IT projects through OPEX by 2025,” Grothjan said. “This will translate in 56% expected growth in partners XaaS revenues.”

Grothjan reviewed the most channel-relevant announcements of HPE GreenLake Day on March 22, where twelve new services were announced, including eight which came from bringing Aruba completely onto the GreenLake platform, which are now available as separate modular offerings . The eight new Aruba offerings are Indoor Wireless aaS, Outdoor Wireless aaS, Remote Wireless aaS, Wired Access aaS, Wired Aggregation aaS, Wired Core aaS, S Branch aaS and UXI aaS.

Grothjan emphasized that these new service packs were explicitly designed for partners.

“The NaaS offerings we originally brought to market used a lease model,” he said. “There was also some complexity, so the result was a bit of a slower time to market. The new NaaS offerings are purpose-built for partners and simple to use. Partners will build on these offerings like lego blocks. Thy will have the ability to resell the subscription or buy it from us and build their own managed services offering.”

Aruba has five as-a-service delivery models for partners, each of which has escalating profit potential. They start with the basic Aruba Central subscription, which is a SaaS offering.

“Central is available on-prem as well, but also as a subscription, so it allows a land and expand strategy,” Grothjan said.

Next comes SKU-based NaaS, the entry-level NaaS offering, with embedded monthly financing.

“These SKU-based subscriptions are not a lease,” Grothjan noted.

Aruba Owned and Managed offerings provide more scalability for large deals while adding enhanced margin opportunities, while Customer Owned and Partner ones will account for the most customers, where the partner is responsible for monitoring the alerts and taking remedial action when required.

Grothjan termed the Partner Owned and Managed option to be the most lucrative for partners prepared to invest in them.

“This has the most profit potential, where they build their own branded solutions and take them to market,” she said. “On a global basis today, we have 300 partners in this model.”

“There was a very strong atmosphere among the partners, and interest in where we are going from a product and strategy standpoint,” said Harold, in reviewing the Partner Forum. “They were excited about the messaging, and especially the  unique new GreenLake offerings.”

Harold also said that they discussed some key new investments with the partners, notably the Aruba Value Advisor.

“This is a new selling tool, a world class solution that helps with ROI investment,” he said. “Partners love it. It is available today for Silver Peak and ClearPass for Wireless, and will be available over the next month or two for everything else.”