HP Exec Speaks to SDN, New BYOD Bundle

Bethany Mayer, HP’s SVP and GM of networking, explains how SMB VARs are a good fit for the company’s latest solutions. By Rich Freeman

MayerBethany Mayer is senior vice president and general manager of networking at Hewlett Packard. In these excerpts from a conversation with ChannelPro-SMB during HP's recent Global Partner Conference, Mayer discusses software-defined networking, competing with Cisco, and more, including a new BYOD solution bundle announced at the conference. Based on a software-defined networking foundation, the new system includes end-to-end management software, switches with integrated wired and wireless capabilities, and a built-in, software-defined security solution.

Q: ChannelPro targets SMB resellers. From a price point perspective, how suitable is this new BYOD solution for them?

A: So, one, from a partner perspective they can easily deploy this in a small medium business. So it's very, very easily deployable. But the other piece too is…this access switch is very, very cost-effective, and you don't have to buy a separate controller and then a separate switch. You buy one. It's all encompassed in a single platform. So that buys lower capex, but also less maintenance, less complexity, running using a single network management platform. Even if the partner does the management of their network for them, it makes their life a lot easier as well. So it's a really great solution for SMB in particular.

We're very, very strong in SMB. It's one of our best markets, and a growing market for us, and so this offering is actually really well suited for a small medium business environment and for partners to sell it. And part of the announcement is that, just so that you know, 90 percent of the HP networking revenue is channel led. So we sell 90 percent of our revenue through the channel, and in the case of wireless we've gone to 100 percent revenue through the channel. So we will not be directly selling these products. They will all be sold through channel partners. So it's a really good opportunity for channel partners to take part in a very, very fast growing market. It's the fastest growing market in networking. [It's a] complete solution and something very easy for them to deploy. So they can build services around it, services to deploy, maintain, etc. And, you know, frankly make money doing that. So that's the goal.

Q: Software-defined networking is still relatively new to the SMB market, especially as you get closer to the “S.”

A: Oh yeah, it's still new, very new.

Q: So do you folks regard it as an SMB opportunity?

A: Actually, you know, it could be and the reason why is because the cost for the appliances that you would normally buy to, say, do Web threat protection or security is actually pretty costly. And so one of the nice things about this [new solution] is that at no additional cost you can secure your network. You don't have to spend additional money for it, and it's a much simpler approach. You don't have to worry about traffic, how you route your traffic or traffic management. That's not necessary because you get security right to the port in the switch, so you don't have to run traffic in a certain pattern to make sure it goes through…It's simple, it's inexpensive frankly at no additional cost to your switching platform, and it gets you security through the entire infrastructure, which is really nice.

But I think you're right. I would tell you that SDN overall is new in the market, but the promise of it is very big and for SMBs I think it will be a really big benefit over time.

Q: What kind of adoption or response are you seeing from your SMB partners so far to SDN generally?

A: So SDN has been very popular to talk to customers about whether they're big or small. They all are interested in it because unfortunately the networking industry has not been very innovative over the last 20 years, and that's primarily due to a single very large competitor who wanted to keep it the way it was, right? They wanted to keep the status quo. And what they kept was all the complexity because then no one else could do anything, right? That was easy.

But folks are really interested in having the network be a lot more responsive to the changes they have to make in their business…Because the network is [currently] so complex, so fragile, you don't want to change your network. You want to change it very, very little because something could happen. Things could fall down and you won't necessarily know how to fix it.