HPE further fleshes out Partner Ready Vantage program with new competencies, Centers of Expertise

Vantage combines both the HPE hybrid cloud and HPE Aruba offerings into a program focused on partner business outcomes, that complements the existing Partner Ready program, and while the Aruba side has the advantage of past work in this area, the HPE side is still being built out, with several elements coming in November or early next year.

LAS VEGAS – A year ago, HPE introduced HPE Ready Vantage, a new program that will run in parallel with the existing HPE Partner Ready program. Partner Ready Vantage brings together HPE’s hybrid cloud solutions with HPE Aruba’s networking and deeper experience in this area. On Monday, at the HPE Partner Summit which kicked off HPE Discover here, HPE announced some more details regarding Vantage deliverables, particularly around competencies and Centres of Excellence. Some details still remain to be fleshed out, however.

Gilles Thiebaut, SVP WW Partner Ecosystem and Business Development, is the newest executive in the channel chief role at HP, moving to this position nine months ago after being at the company for 26 years, at nine different roles. He led off the keynote explaining how HPE’s broader strategy is evolving to accommodate the growing potential of the as-a-Service model.

“We are focused on expanding opportunities with you,” Thiebaut told the assembled partners. “That’s the theme around this event – co-sell, innovation and outcome-based solutions.”

Thiebaut said that HPE is focused on three approaches to expand their partner business.

“We are deeply committed to innovation, and we do this in a partner-centric way,” he said. “The acquisition of OpsRamp complements and strengthens the  GreenLake value proposition.”

HPE CEO Antonio Neri expanded on this in an appearance later in the keynote.

“OpsRamp will be one of the most disruptive acquisitions that we have made, not  only in addressing customer management problems, but how we make this work more sustainably,” Neri said. “It is a massive opportunity for partners to monetize that in a way we hadn’t provided before.”

Thiebaut indicated the second approach was encouraging partners to modernize their business models around as-a-Service.

“We want you to develop a services-based approach, with GreenLake on one side and the HPE Partner Vantage program on the other, sharing the deliverables of that same portfolio,” he stated.

Finally, Thiebaut stressed the importance of competencies, which HPE laid out at the event.

“We are enabling you to develop competencies that deliver outcomes to customers, and competencies that make you problem solvers for your customers,” he said. “It is a great way to differentiate yourself against your competition.”

Simon Ewington, VP of Worldwide Distribution at HPE, provided more details on the changes.

“There is room for improvement in Partner Ready to take advantage of the as-a-Service opportunity,” he said. “Our goal is to simplify, and bring hybrid cloud and Aruba together in a single framework. That’s Vantage.”

Vantage has separate Build, Sell and Service tracks, each supported by specific Centers of Expertise.

“Previously, there was not one program that brought them all together to let partners participate in one or all of these tracks until now,” Ewington said. “It  connects HPE’s IP with partner value-added services.

The competencies are divided into three groups, Edge, Hybrid Cloud and Edge. The Edge competencies are all focused around Aruba, and were announced early this year. There are five in total: GreenLake for Aruba networking; Aruba Networking Central; Aruba ClearPass; Aruba SD-WAN, and Aruba Data Center Networking

There are seven Hybrid Cloud competencies, all of which come from the GreenLake side of the house. They are: HPE GreenLake; HPE Data Services and Storage; HPE Data Protection and Disaster Recovery Solutions; HPE Private Cloud Solutions; HPE Hybrid Cloud Solutions; HPE Solutions for VDI; and HPE Solutions for SAP HANA.

These twelve competencies will all be live in November. There is a third set of competencies, around Artificial Intelligence, but they are scheduled to go live later. These four AI competencies are HPE HPC for Enterprise; HPE Supercomputing; HPE Data Analytics Solutions; and HPE AI Solutions.

“The competencies are designed to be meaningful in the market, both at the company and the individual level,” Ewington indicated. “All are designed with three things in mind: flexibility to support you regardless of your business model; driving capability by enabling you to build skills that are in demand in the market; and differentiation, through the foundation to add your unique value and services wrapped around HPE.”

Jesse Chavez, HPE’s worldwide senior vice president of partner programs and operations, and Beth Jensen, HPE Aruba’s worldwide vice president of partner programs, provided more details later in an HPE Vantage Breakout session.

Chavez began by addressing an elephant in the room, which is that despite HPE’s increased focus on as-a-Service through the HPE Partner Ready program, rather than the more traditional program elements of HPE Partner Ready Vantage, there are no imminent plans to fold the older program into the newer one, and partners encouraged in as-a-Service are being encouraged to join both programs.

“There will be no changes to the overall program, which is profitable,” Chavez told partners. “There is no intent to merge both programs – not in the near future anyway, for at least 2-3 years.”

The programs are very different though, Chavez emphasized.

“Vantage isn’t about medallions, unlike Partner Ready,” he said. “It’s really about the Centers of Expertise and how you use them to show your breadth.”

Citing data from the Technology and Services Industry Association [TSIA], Chavez noted how as-a-Service is changing channel business.

“Partners expect 56% growth in as-a-Service, which drives them to differentiate by providing their own value-add services and creating their own practices,” he said. “Partners see a 35% subscription revenue mix, with more than 50% of service provider revenue coming this way.”

Chavez said that Vantage will help partners address these trends by connecting customer needs with partner capabilities.

“We will enable that through competencies, recognize at both company and individual level, and support it all through the Centers of Expertise where practices are built,” he noted.

There seems little doubt that partners need assistance here. A show of hands request in the breakout as to how many partners were offering managed services today got about a 10% affirmative response, and while these things are not always the most reliable means of measurement, it’s still not an inspiring number.

“We have designed Vantage in terms of making to easy to engage wherever you want along the program,” Jensen said. “Each of the Centers of Expertise has tailored enablement, best practices, and Go-to-market assets. Each centre has implementation for both Hybrid cloud and Aruba to deliver a consistent partner experience. You can enroll in as many Centers of Expertise as you want.”

There are two Build Centers of Expertise, Solutions and Development, and Technology Validation.

“These will enable more targeted solutions, and increase customer stickiness, with access to coaching and guidance,” Jensen said. “You can gain a competitive advantage combining our IP and yours and other partners.”

The Sell Center of Expertise is around as-a-Service resale.

“The traditional business is not going away, but there is a need to deliver how the customer chooses to consume it,” Jensen indicated. “The as-a-service training will help you grow your pipeline as compensation shifts to lifecycle mode.”

Services has three centres, in Customer Success, Managed Services and Professional Services.

“We are making sure partners can lead with their services, Jensen said. “The focus is on partners delivering their own services across the entire customer lifecycle. We are opening up all our best practices methodologies – so your maturity doesn’t matter. We will to a customer success assessment and give you what’s appropriate through the centre.”

Chavez noted that the Aruba business has a leg up in this area, because they have already been doing a lot of this already, which has not been the case with the HPE hybrid cloud. He also indicated that while to date GreenLake has been the MSP for services delivery, that will also be changing, to allow partners to deliver it, or even the customer, with the customer having the choice. Look for these options to be available in the new year.

Also look for more services capabilities to become available through the Centers of Expertise.

“We focus on customer retention because it is five times more expensive to get a new customer than retain an old one,” Chavez said. “That’s why we focus on the  services track. We will continue to evolve Centers of Expertise from a services perspective.”

The compensation structure, which is already in place for Aruba, is still being worked on from the HPE side. The plan is to announce it in September and October and go live in November.