It is clear that the opportunity for partners to benefit from a hybrid, everything-as-a-service landscape is greater now than it has ever been.

George Hope George Hope Worldwide Head of Partner Sales at Hewlett Packard Enterprise
George Hope

Is everything-as-a-service really a thing for partners?

I’ve been fortunate to have candid, thought-provoking discussions with analysts, industry leaders, customers, and partners at recent events like the Canalys Forums. The reflections and insights I heard when we were asked (provocative) questions like “Is everything-as-a-service really a thing for partners?” made me think that we may be ready to put the “public cloud vs on-premises” debate to rest. It is clear that the opportunity for partners to benefit from a hybrid, everything-as-a-service landscape is greater now than it has ever been.

Today, outcomes matter more than anything else for customers, while the dynamics and features enabling those outcomes are becoming less and less relevant. Thriving enterprises prioritize outcomes in their IT investments, leverage trusted industry ecosystems to generate profitable revenue growth from engaging customer experiences, and demonstrate an ability to adapt operating models to customer requirements.* This new approach to decision making has been accelerated by the “digital first” mandate—a permanent, yet dynamic, fixture in our world. According to IDC, by 2023 90% of organizations worldwide will be prioritizing investments in digital tools to augment physical spaces and assets, and by 2024 55% of all ICT investment will be linked to digital transformation.

However, leading with a “digital first” approach isn't just a matter of picking or prioritizing a particular technology or business model. It is about changing the perspective and the conversation, focusing on outcomes to enable the experiences customers need the most. At the same time, it is impossible—if not counterproductive—to generalize which workloads are “fit” or “unfit” for cloud.

Public cloud vs on-premises

Recently, the cloud repatriation trend has generated many headlines. At AWS re:Invent, AWS CEO Adam Selipsky stated that only 5% to 15% of global IT spending (measured in the multiple trillions of dollars per year) is spent currently in the cloud. Over the past several months, we’ve seen plenty of examples of big cloud vendors saying something to the effect that only 15% or 20% of workloads have been moved to the cloud. We also know about “public cloud challenges” (or limitations) like data egress costs or lock-in. But the reasons for moving workloads to or out of the cloud vary, as do the workload types.

Years of cloud migration research indicate many workloads will fluctuate between deployment locations until they reach an optimal balance of cost, performance, and security. Achieving this balance is more important to most businesses than the location itself, which is why so many have adopted hybrid cloud and multi-cloud deployments to diversify their infrastructure options.

Datacenter consolidation and cloud migration are key trends in the market where partners are well positioned given the trusted relationship they have with their customers. Within a hybrid cloud model, partners can play a key role by providing recommendations on where a customer’s workloads should go. This would enable partners to position themselves as experts and trusted advisors to their customers.

At HPE, we were pioneers of the hybrid cloud conversation and approach. We were the first to lead with a consumption offering, to make digital transformation affordable and secure, and to introduce the concept of “a cloud experience everywhere”. Partners are at the heart of this vision and our partner community represents a competitive advantage for us, too.

Everything as-a-service for partners

In 2019, we tested and piloted our HPE GreenLake cloud services with partners, focusing on making pre-configured architectures available in t-shirt sizes in as few as 14 days to small and medium customers through the Swift Sales Program. Over the past three years, we have invested $2B in partner (sales and technical) enablement, activation, and progression. As a result, we are seeing more and more partners turn HPE GreenLake into repeatable business. Recent examples are the inspiring joint success stories with our partners AdvizeX, CBT, and PKA Technologies.

Our top 1,000 partners, who have invested with us in leading with HPE GreenLake, today make up >80% of our partner business and are seeing their consumption business grow by 50% quarter-over-quarter.

We continue to help partners embrace our edge-to-cloud vision at their own pace, wherever they are on their digital transformation journey. As a testament to our focus on driving HPE GreenLake business with partners, we continue to offer a 17% HPE GreenLake for partners rebate, one of the highest in the industry. It’s worth noting that partners still get to participate in the recurring revenue stream from the monthly billing process, too.

Partners can also benefit from preferential pricing and deal protection through incentives aimed at helping them protect their margins while selling HPE GreenLake-powered solutions to new or existing customers. Furthermore, HPE Financial Services offers are available for businesses of all sizes to help optimize investment capacity, move to everything-as-a-service faster, or even double down on transformation.

In FY21, the channel accounted for 30% of total HPE GreenLake sales. We have a global community partners that represents a huge untapped market opportunity for HPE GreenLake. As we enable more and more partners to take advantage of our consumption offering, we will further accelerate our edge-to-cloud growth.

Ecosystems and opportunities 

Thanks to our mature and broad ecosystem, our partners can act as “sub-contractors” to other partners to collaborate and connect skillsets so we can best meet our shared customer needs.

Today, resellers working with HPE can launch their own managed cloud services with limited upfront investment to elastically scale services in line with demand. Leveraging white-labelled cloud services and our network of service providers across the globe, all HPE Partners can offer their own branded cloud solutions and retain the customer relationship end-to-end. In the coming years this market will see significant growth, with data sovereignty, security and compliance as some of the key drivers.

We are expanding our reach also through closer collaboration with strategic distributors to drive service provider-led as-a-service offerings in their marketplaces and right-sized HPE GreenLake offerings to the market.

In what Forrester** defines as “the year of the grand pivot”, we remain laser-focused on partner and customer experience. We are shortening the sales cycle through tools like HPE GreenLake Quick Quote, leveraging predictive analytics and AI-and robotics-powered automation, and offering end-to-end digital experiences through the HPE Partner Demo Program and virtual tours of our Innovation Centers.

As we transform the way we operate to lead the market as the edge-to-cloud company, I believe the conversation we need to have is about choice. In a world where customers are transforming their business models, too, giving them options means gaining a deep understanding of the outcomes they need and want to achieve. That, in turn, should translate into helping them leverage cloud offerings, ecosystems, process automation, and economics to afford the digital transformation they need to differentiate themselves and thrive.

At HPE, we enable and promote our partners to deliver along our shared customer journey the exact outcomes they want, wherever they want and need their workloads to be. Our partners then add value through their own services and unique expertise, acting as trusted advisors and shifting the conversation from features to experiences. A simple yet revolutionary formula for success in the “cloud everywhere” era.

*IDC FutureScape: Worldwide IT Industry 2022 Predictions.

**Forrester's blog on 2022 customer experience predictions, October 27 2021.

This article originally appeared on LinkedIn. 

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