HPE rekindles channel loyalty in India: Som Satsangi

By Yogesh Gupta Apr 18th 2017
HPE rekindles channel loyalty in India: Som Satsangi

HPE technology portfolio and partner blueprint befits tech channels in the digital era, says Som Satsangi, India MD at HPE.

HPE is one of the few ‘end-to-end’ tech players like DELL EMC, Cisco, Huawei addressing the IT needs of India Inc.

The advent of digital transformation and new age technologies is making ICT vendors (with an extensive portfolio of hardware and software) accelerate the indirect route of channel partners.

Will the aggressive bid to acquire competitors' channels result in HPE neglecting its loyal partners? “We have spent decades with our loyal partners. A lot of time, effort and investment has gone into it. We have plans, lots of meetings and quarterly discussions with them. I don’t see any challenge as they have seen our commitment and loyalty over time,” said Som Satsangi, Managing Director, HPE India in an extensive interaction with ChannelWorld.

A handful of transaction deals scored by our competition through some of our partners in India cannot usurp HPE’s long-standing channel loyalty established over decades, said Satsangi. 

HPE's silver partners have always worked with multiple brands. Our focus continues to be on top platinum and gold that includes tier 1 and tier 2 channel partners across India, he said.

HPE is focussing on the systems integrators community in India. “The spinoff of enterprise services business of HPE last year has given us the ability to work closely with tier 1 partners such as Wipro and TCS. The engagement is much higher, more unbiased and delivers more value to the end customers," explained Satsangi. The systems integrators including new age players like L&T Infotech and not the tier 2 partners handle big projects in the government and public sector, he added.

HPE continues to work with Tier 2 systems integrators and solution providers, as the vendor has an extensive portfolio of enterprise offerings including the newly launched Synergy and Pointnext services.

HPE India does not have a dedicated leader for storage, as that was merged with the server division to form DCIG. Won’t it lessen HPE’s laser sharp focus on storage driven by channels? We have discussed and debated over time, but we decided to merge the divisions last year. Everyone thought that we might dilute our storage business. Most of the customers are not buying storage and server separately. But the run rate has gone up 2X on storage in last two quarters which means the strategy (storage and severs) is working well," he replied. 

In India, HPE’s senior executives Barun Lala (sales leader) and Joybrata Mukherjee (India channel chief) have been leading the company’s storage division for several years.

Also Read : HPE rejigs top management in India

“In any large organization that has a separate BU, there will be a conflict with different OEMs. By combining storage and server, our team and channel teams can have better scale and management of the end customer,” he added.

HPE is also bringing behavioral changes in the pre-sales team as they are selling server and storage as one integrated solution. "We are combining pre sales and the solution architect to offer a custom built solution than offer a building block," he said.

The new portfolio

According to HPE's partners, there are some HPE enterprise account managers in India who seem to ignore the presence of enterprise channels and directly take control of the account, neglecting the contribution of channels in nurturing the account. “That is not the case, as we get over ninety percent of the indirect business for HPE India through channels. HPE’s big sales organizations directly engages with 200 odd accounts in terms of technology, roadmap, poc but the fulfillment and execution is done by partners," he said.

"I don’t think any partner had challenges in accounts HPE executed directly," he reiterated.

Besides the server and storage business, HPE India is now pushing aggressively on the networking business (though Aruba acquisition).  HPE is acquiring the networking channel of Cisco and Juniper Networks and several channels (Aruba or other networking) are approaching HPE too. ”To grow our networking coverage, we have adopted the hard strategy to pick Juniper and Cisco channels, apart from our channels who were not strong strong in the networking domain. Outside our traditional channel partner organizations, we have gone with a competitive program and acquired Cisco and Juniper partners with a focus on networking, “ said Satsangi.

Another challenge for channels is acquiring affordable experts in IoT, cloud and other new technologies. "We have started training the top 20 partners of HPE on IoT, converged infra, and the new style of IT. Whereas we are in discussions on all products and technology roadmap with our platinum and gold partners. Point next solutions from the professional services and advisory services are generating good business for channels," he added.

"We are training them to deliver a valuable sales pitch to their customers with all our new offerings and ensure the channels are up to the mark and as good as an HPE team member,"  he said.

Som joined Compaq about two decades ago. “Almost all HPE or IBM channels have been Compaq channel partners at some point of time. Channels have to put in long term commitment and I can assure that they will not be disappointed. The partners that try to work with multiple brands do indulge in one off transactions, but it is not quite profitable in the long run. Channels should be loyal to a company and we will be loyal to you," he explained.

"Some channels with a traditional mindset are not spending money to reskill and repurpose their teams on new technologies. These partner companies will not remain relevant to the new age needs of IT that include converge infra, cloud and big data by the end organizations,” said Som Satsangi at HPE India.


Edited by : Mansi Joshi

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