New Hope for HP Partners

By Pedro Pereira  |  Print this article Print

The vendor is moving some formerly direct business to partners and simplifying programs, which bodes well for the channel.

Hewlett-Packard’s recent decision to move some high-end consulting and education services to channel partners from its direct-sales organization could not have come at a better time.

Even though the vendor is tying the decision of which partners get to sell the services to sales volumes, the move nevertheless recognizes that solution providers’ business models are evolving and that much of this evolution revolves around services.

HP said it will allow its Service Elite partners with the highest sales to enterprise customers to sell the consulting and education services. The company also said it is running managed services pilot programs and boosting internal resources to support its services channel partners.

The moves address two often-articulated complaints about vendors—that they have done little to embrace the managed services model and that, despite all the programs they put in place to support partners, more is needed.

The complaint about managed services is specifically directed at the major vendors. While Cisco and Dell have gotten kudos for their initiatives in this area, big-name vendors by and large have received a thumbs-down.

Tellingly, in a recent poll by the MSP Alliance, 40 percent of 142 participating MSPs (managed services providers) said they are dissatisfied with managed services support programs from vendors.

But survey participants rated as favorite vendors those that focus exclusively on managed services—N-able Technologies, Level Platforms, Zenith Infotech and Kaseya. This finding makes sense, of course, but it also provides further evidence that major vendors aren’t meeting the needs of MSPs.

And when it comes to meeting the needs of solution providers in general, vendors don’t exactly score off the charts. In a poll by Ziff Davis Enterprise and Crimson Consulting last summer, a measly 14 percent of 273 solution providers rated big IT vendors’ support programs as "very good" or "excellent." Seventy-three percent deemed them "good or fair" and 13 percent rated them "poor or worse."

Vendors would have had a better chance of scoring higher if they had in the last couple of years done a better job of adjusting to evolving business models, such as managed services, and of rewarding partners for their influence as opposed to just sales.

Vendors such as IBM and Microsoft have started to recognize influence, but by and large channel programs still reward partners for how much they sell. By rewarding influence, a vendor gives a commission to partners, such as ISVs, for participating in a sale even when they don’t ultimately put their signature on the dotted line when the deal closes.
It is likely that no matter how much they improve their channel support infrastructures, vendors still will be the object of criticism from partners. Such is the nature of relationships; more improvements could always be made.

But at least HP appears intent on assessing its programs’ shortcomings and trying new approaches. Besides moving consulting and education services sales to partners, the vendor also wants to simplify its overall channel programs to make it easier for partners to do business with HP. The need for simplification has been a common complaint among partners.

Simplification tends to yield positive results. Solution providers gravitate to the vendors that best support them in selling their services and technology.

With its recent and planned moves to better support partners, HP appears to be on the right track.

Pedro Pereira is editor of eWEEK Strategic Partner and a contributing editor for Channel Insider. He can be reached at pedro.pereira@ziffdavisenterprise.com.





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