IT and Business Insights for SMB Solution Providers

Tech Data Becomes Channel Service Provider for HP

Starting with HP’s 3Par storage products, the distributor will provide HP-authorized installation and startup services for HP partners to help them scale and expand their business. By James E. Gaskin

Tech Data Corp. announced its plan to become a Channel Service Provider for HP during the company's Fall Channel Link partner conference in Anaheim, Calif., in mid-September 2013, starting with HP's 3Par storage products. Tech Data will provide HP-authorized installation and start-up services for HP channel partners through the distributor's new HP Solutions Group.

Sheri Hedlund, vice president of product marketing, HP Solutions Group, says this new service is complementary to Tech Data's resellers, not competition. "We want to help resellers doing business with their customers, but maybe they sell to locations the reseller doesn't cover. We can provide those technical services in other locations."

Hedlund, who spent 13 years at HP before joining Tech Data about a year ago, says resellers now have three options when they sell HP's 3Par StoreServ products. "The reseller can install it, HP can install it with their Service One program, or we can install it."

"We've had resellers tell us they're short on techs and have more installation business than they can manage. They want us to help until they can ramp up." Sheri Hedlund, vice president of product marketing,
HP Solutions Group,
Tech Data Corp.

Products covered by the HP Solutions Group at Tech Data include the entry-level HP 3PAR StoreServ 7000 and 7400 storage series, and will over time include the 10,000 series for larger installations. Support will be limited geographically, but Tech Data has yet to release its support areas. There was no timeframe given for when other HP products will be included in the service.

"Many mid-market resellers can't sell enough units to have a high enough utilization rate for specialized techs," says Hedlund. "We can supplement those service offerings and help resellers grow."

Tech Data has "quite a few" engineers in the program for both pre-sales and installations, but won't give an exact number. Hedlund assures us the team is highly certified, with "over 160 certifications" on the team.

Four Tech Data partners were given early access to the HP Solutions Group services, says Hedlund, to make sure the planned program supported but didn't compete with the resellers. Several installations have been completed, and the "Tech Data techs were given excellent ratings by the HP techs," says Hedlund.

"We've had resellers tell us they're short on techs and have more installation business than they can manage," says Hedlund. "They want us to help until they can ramp up."

More than just installation services, the HP Solutions Group works closely with HP all though the sales process. An HP project planner is involved, and Tech Data staff monitor the products through the build process, track shipments, and make sure delivery and installation are scheduled and managed. Tech Data even provides specific SKUs for installation and delivery services.

HP launched its Advanced Customer Experience Solutions (ACES) configuration portal this past June. Part of the project is the configuration and workflow tool exclusive to joint Tech Data and HP projects. ACES manages the turnaround time for both the reseller and Tech Data, as well as HP response times to resellers, like an SLA. Monitoring continues from purchasing through order processing, shipping, and delivery. At every point, the reseller can elect to have alerts sent so the company knows exactly what's going on.

"We learned that many smaller resellers don't have a fancy CRM or pipeline management tools," says Hedlund. "So they're using this. It keeps all pending, active, and expired requests in the Web portal for them, and will prompt them if a quote is about to expire. Some resellers are now dependent on this."

Why HP and why 3Par to start off this new program? Hedlund explains: "3Par is a good solution and positioned well for the market and increased IT expectations. We approached HP, but there was mutual interest and conversations. ServiceOne from HP was a new program driving penetration of services, speeding time between sales and installation and use by the customer. As emerging markets define themselves, we found this to be a huge opportunity for both of us."

This new service offering also fits with the mantra delivered by multiple Tech Data executives that the company is going beyond the "pick, pack, and ship" distribution business.

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