Hewlett-Packard, as expected, launched the HP CloudSystem Partner Program today at the HP Americas Partner Conference in Las Vegas. HP Channel Chief Stephen DiFranco (pictured) also shared some key channel milestones with roughly 1,000 VARs at the conference. But I have to concede: Other than reselling HP hardware, I'm still a little confused about how channel partners will profit from some portions of HP's cloud strategy.
On the upside, the HP CloudSystem Partner Program:
- "provides tools for channel partners to build expert clud practices by evolving their business models and developing cloud-focused skills."
- "enables partners to build and manage complete, integrated cloud solutions across private, public and hybrid cloud environments."
According to company executives, the HP CloudSystem is a complete, open, integrated hardware/software solution that channel partners can deploy for customers. The system includes the following components (click on graphic for larger image):
For large solutions providers -- especially those that serve big service providers and enterprises -- the HP CloudSystem partner program sounds intriguing.
Still, I believe HP missed an opportunity to promote its cloud strategy to SMB channel partners, smaller VARs and MSPs. Among my two major questions:
1. What Is the HP Cloud?: HP CEO Leo Apotheker said a so-called HP Cloud is under development. It sounds like a public cloud alternative to Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Windows Azure, Rackspace Cloud and more. But Apotheker didn't describe whether the HP Cloud will include a channel program. Nor did he say when HP Cloud will debut. After Apotheker's keynote, I think some partners were left with more questions than answers.
2. White Label Cloud Services?: Many TalkinCloud readers, particularly smaller VARs and MSPs, want white label SaaS applications that they can rebrand and sell as their own. Examples include online backup, storage, disaster recovery, hosted email, hosted PBX, anti-spam and encryption. But I didn't hear any plans involving HP Cloud delivering white label services to channel partners. Moreover, DiFranco said HP partners typically build their businesses by leveraging the HP brand. Generally speaking, I think SMB partners increasingly want to lead with their own brand, particularly when it comes to cloud computing and managed services.
Still, HP is making some smart SMB cloud moves. You just need to poke around to find them. Off stage, HP VP Meaghan Kelly described the company's growing relationship with Axcient, a cloud storage provider that works closely with MSPs in the SMB market.
The HP-Axcient relationship, only about a month old, has engaged 200 MSPs that generate roughly $500,000 in annual recurring revenues. That's an impressive start. And I suspect HP is preparing to do more to promote additional SMB-centric cloud solutions to VARs and MSPs.
Perhaps HP Cloud Maps and HP Cloud Discovery Workshop, two related efforts, will assist those SMB efforts. Here's why.
- HP Cloud Maps involves tested configurations of popular applications, such as Microsoft Exchange. Plenty of partners want to get into the SaaS email market. But here again, I wonder: How many channel partners really want to launch their own hosted Exchange data centers? I suspect most channel partners are simply looking to white label third-party hosted Exchange services.
- HP CloudSystem Community: Apparently, it will allow channel partners to share and sell Cloud Map services. That sounds promising. Done right, perhaps major service providers can leverage Cloud Map services to extend white label cloud offerings to smaller VARs and MSPs.
Ultimately, HP wants channel partners to sell more servers, networking and storage into the cloud computing market. That makes sense for plenty of HP channel partners. But so far I think HP's cloud effort overlooks smaller VARs and MSPs that want to become cloud integrators -- tying together multiple third-party SaaS systems.
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