HPE’s Simon Ewington: MSP Crucial to New Partner Program, Wants FeedbackHPE’s Simon Ewington: MSP Crucial to New Partner Program, Wants Feedback
HPE's upcoming partner program relies on MSPs, CSPs and other service providers to drive business into new markets.
September 5, 2023
Simon Ewington, HPE’s new vice president worldwide channel and partner ecosystems, is busy preparing for the launch of HPE’s Partner Ready Vantage program on Nov. 1. MSPs, cloud service providers (CSPs) and technology providers developing cloud capabilities – despite what some have been made to think – are critically important to the success of the program, he said.
“Absolutely. If you look at what’s happening in terms of the market data and how the market is developing, more business is expected to be transacted through MSPs and CSPs,” Ewington said. “What you’re also seeing with a lot of our partners is they’re developing MSP, CSP capabilities. They’re evolving. Aside from wanting to work with CSPs and MSPs that we don’t work with today, I’m equally excited about the partners who are developing MSP/CSP capabilities.”
HPE Looking MSPs, CSPs for New Markets
Ewington had a big hand in shaping the Partner Ready Vantage program while serving in the interim channel VP role since February. His team is charged with bringing MSPs, CSPs and other service providers into the program. That’s a crucial step as HPE works to drive sales of its GreenLake platform, and server and networking gear, into the middle of the SMB and state and local governments.
HPE’s Simon Ewington
“In fact we’re looking for the chance to play a bigger and bigger role [in the SMB market],” said Ewington, who held high-level distribution roles for HPE and HP. “In my role running distribution, the whole focus and mantra working with our distributors was, we want you to enable smaller partners that typically [sell into] the SMB midmarket. I mean, that’s what I’ve been doing for the last 15 years in my job and I’m passionate about the role that channel plays in driving that business for us.”
While HPE has strong relationships with enterprise IT providers, some MSPs focused on selling HPE’s traditional products say they rarely hear from HPE account reps, assume they’ll be overlooked for any GreenLake play and are unsure about aligning with the Partner Ready Vantage program, given that they haven’t heard much from HPE about it.
“It’s always challenging for the partner when the program hasn’t actually launched, right?” Ewington said. “We can always do a better job. But we need to get the program launched first.”
Simon Ewington: Program Has Elements Targeting MSPs
The new program is based on “build,” “sell” and “service” tracks that partners can qualify for. Each track includes Centers of Expertise that include resources to help partners build out their end-to-end HPE practices. The service track’s Managed Service Center of Expertise, for example, is aimed at MSPs, giving them more opportunities to deliver their own services. In the past, MSPs could deliver some of those through GreenLake managed services (GMS) offerings, but HPE typically handled services on most accounts.
Ewington wants to ensure MSPs, CSPs and other service providers that think they’re not on HPE’s radar, the company is very much interested in working with the right ones.
“I think there is a huge opportunity for partners, particularly around the managed piece. A lot of vendors try to keep that managed piece to themselves because of the raw margin, rich nature. We’re saying to partners, ‘We want you to earn high levels of margin selling your own services and we’re going to help you to do that,’” he said. “MSPs and CSPs are absolutely critical to what we will do with our as-a-service program, particularly in terms of the managed track moving forward. Just give it a bit of time. I’ll take on board the feedback that we need to do a better job of …
… communicating the value proposition.”
Not Everyone Has Complaints
Certainly not all HPE’s MSP partners complain about the company. Stanley Louissaint, owner of Fluid Designs in Watchung, New Jersey, is one.
“I’ve been fortunate enough to not have any major issues with HPE at all,” said Louissaint, whose company ranked No. 8 on the 2023 Channel Futures NextGen 101 list. “I purchase things from distribution and what I need is typically in stock. So if things are in stock, I do not have an issue with a vendor.”
But some of HPE’s other long-term and former partners complain that the vendor has done little to build even a basic relationship with them. Ewington said a main challenge in his new role – besides working with “new partner archetypes that we may not have worked with in the past” – is to focus more on HPE’s traditional portfolio and the partners selling it.
“I think we’ve given the impression in the last few years that we only care about the other service world. I don’t think that’s the case. We love our traditional business. Actually, as the strategy of the company has evolved, the bit that holds all of our portfolio together is the GreenLake cloud services platform. Because whether or not you’re going to buy capex or opex, you’re going to get the same experience. I think that is fantastic. But we want to make sure that our partners understand that we still love the traditional business. It’s incredibly important to us — incredibly important. And I think that message has been diluted a little bit in the last couple of years.”
That importance, though, still resonates strongly within the top of HPE’s executive branch, Ewington said.
HPE’s Antonio Neri
“I know as a vendor we’re sometimes not the simplest vendors to work with for sure. But there is a huge amount of focus from Antonio [Neri, HPE president and CEO] to improve our partner experience,” he said. “What I would say to your readers and to partners is if you feel that you’re not getting a fair crack of the whip, if you feel that the engagement is not where it should be, give me a call. We need the feedback from the partner community. We need to listen. I think we do a good job of listening and I want to make sure that your readers understand that if they’re feeling that we can do things better than they need to reach out to us and tell us.”
Ewington mentioned that he and Neri two weeks ago conducted a two-and-a-half-hour channel review, including a follow-up the next week.
“We are super lucky as a company that we are led by CEO who is so partner-centric,” he said. “But we still need to get the feedback from partners. We need to listen. Tell us where we need to improve.”
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