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February 26, 2013 |

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.

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.

With SDN, it just changes the paradigm completely, and it enables them to change their network in time for business requirements to happen. So say the business wants to go to the cloud. They have to reconfigure the network to do it. They have to. And so if you wanted to spend lots of time reconfiguring that network manually, that’s what you have to do and it ends up being the long pole in the tent, right? With SDN that goes away. So they can automatically make those changes. The network itself can be automated to make changes before going to the cloud as an example. Or wireless devices that enter the network, they can be detected and monitored and provisioned all automatically. So SDN offers a lot of value there.

Q: Beyond this big announcement, are there other SMB-relevant technologies that you’re talking about this week?

A: Well, one other very relevant technology that’s specific to the SMB and very good for the SMB is we’ve done heavy integration with our switches and Lync, Microsoft Lync…It’s very popular in SMB and so we have the deepest integration and in fact perhaps the only integration with Lync from a networking perspective. That really brings value to customers.

Q: You’re going to have a lot of partners here who are also Cisco partners.

A: Yes, that’s right.

Q: So what’s the case you would make to them for why they should be taking more of their networking to you?

A: One of the things we’re doing is we’ve created this blitz-in-a-box where we have two of our [switches] that we’re going to give to them to basically play with and demo. And then we’re offering a whole program around selling the product. It’s a very, very popular product. And we’re targeting all of our top Cisco Gold partners. And the idea there is to have them consider HP networking as a potential partner.

We are more lucrative from a revenue margin perspective. They make more money working with us. Our partner program is tailored to them. We’ve modified the program to provide additional training and certification as well as better rebates and continued assistance with their sale. And the other piece is we’ve committed to the channel. Ninety percent of our revenue goes through the channel. So we won’t be taking deals from them. We’ll be supporting them. That’s our goal. So we think we have a very good compelling offer to give to Gold partners, Cisco Gold partners, and we’re absolutely going to take advantage of that during this event.

Q: And do you feel like you’re taking share from Cisco?

A: We are taking share. We’ve taken share every year consistently for the last six years. So, yes, we are taking share and we’re going to continue taking share. We’ve grown revenue for the last 12 consecutive quarters. So we have very strong momentum in HP networking and we think that will benefit the partners too, because they’ll be with a partner who is market leading, who’s growing, who’s growing faster than market, and has really an awesome innovative portfolio that they can sell.

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