Aruba lays out strategy vision for channel partners

Aruba’s channel leaders summed up the importance of the Atmosphere event for partners, and gave an indication of where partner strategy is headed.

Jim Harold, Vice President Channels, at Aruba

LAS VEGAS – The primary focus at the just-concluded Aruba Atmosphere event was on the extension of the company’s solution set, particularly their next generation of Aruba Networking Central and their Agile NaaS approach. However, the company also had news for channel partners, including a roadmap for the availability of acquired product, and some new sales incents around data centres.

“This has been a great event for partners,” said Jim Harold, Vice President Channels, at Aruba. “The increased market opportunity has increased new things to sell, specifically around new high growth TAMs.”

Harold emphasized the importance of the recent acquisition of Axis Security, whose capabilities, together with the existing WAN capabilities from Silver Peak, gives Aruba a full-fledged SASE solution

“The Axis acquisition generated a lot of excitement when we told partners that this is what it means for them,” Harold said. “Previously, we had been able to offer all the SASE components, but we did it though strategic partnerships. We had teamed up with companies like Zscaler and Netskope. Now we can offer customers a full solution from a single vendor.”

Harold said that the Axis technology can serve as the foundation of two different partner Go-to-Market approaches.

“One says play would be as a full SASE service solution,” he stated. “The other would be as a best of breed offering around ZTNA [Zero Trust Network Access] and SSE, which is a big market in itself. Partners will be able to position it as a high growth TAM offering.”

The Axis offerings were available once the sales closed, but everything fell under Silver Peak sales programs as of today, May 1.

Donna Grothjan, Head of WorldWide Partners at Aruba

“While partners could transact before, it gets easier on May 1,” said Donna Grothjan, Head of WorldWide Partners at Aruba.

The original eight Agile NaaS Service Pack solutions have been available in the U.S. and Canada since last November, and while still only available in 17 countries overall, continues to roll out globally. A new Service Pack solution for the ClearPass policy manager was also announced at the event.

“There will be more as we go further through the year and into next year,” Harold said.

“Partners are excited about this because the services opportunity with Service Packs is tremendous,” he added. “For partners. it’s a monthly billing through distribution, so it does not tie up their capital. They can also mark up additional services they wrap around it.

“We have also put workshops around NaaS Service Packs so partners get it right, as well as a playbook with choices.” Harold added. “We also did a closed door session with our partner council here, and everyone knows what the challenges are. We are challenging our partners to become leaders with NaaS.”

Harold also emphasized the importance of their new data centre initiative.

“We are doing a lot around the data centre, which is an adjacent market that we have invested in,” he said. “Our recent CX 10000 switch fits here. It is based on our great relationship with AMD Pensando.”

Aruba has also introduced a new data competency.

“If a partner gets a couple of sales people certified, they get additional back-end rebate incentives,” Harold said. “If two technical people get a DCN certification as well, they get access to Better Together SKUs on the HPE price list. They need to complete this by July 20 for Q3 earnings, or October 20th for Q4 earnings.”

Some Aruba partners at the event, referring to some issues with HPE around services, expressed concern about potential issues here with Aruba, but Grothjan emphasized that they have no reason for trepidation.

“Aruba and HPE have fundamentally different models, and 95% of Aruba’s business goes through partners,” she stressed. “We depend a lot on our partners.”

Grothjan, who announced her retirement at Atmosphere after 30 years with Aruba, also commented on the reasons.

“I’ve been thinking about it for the last three years, and view it as the next step in my journey,” she said. “In particular, I want to participate on some boards. What I’ve been able to accomplish here in the channel chief role has met all my goals. With the new HPE Partner Advantage program now being in the market, it was a good time to leave.”