The announcement in early July that Teneros, a provider of application continuity appliances for Microsoft Exchange 2003 and 2007, selected Hewlett-Packard’s (NYSE: HPQ) ProLiant DL380 G5 servers as the hardware on which to base their appliance platform is pretty straightforward on the surface. Microsoft Exchange is one of the most, if not the most, mission critical applications in many companies so it only makes sense for Teneros to use servers from HP in conjunction with their email continuity appliance to support Exchange. In these environments, Teneros wants the highest level of assurance that the hardware and software are compatible with one another and will not experience any unexpected interoperability hiccups after its email continuity appliance is deployed in the field.
Unmentioned in the announcement, however, is that Teneros elected to buy the hardware from Bell Micro, a distributor of HP products, rather than go directly to HP because of the new value proposition that Bell Micro now offers as a distributor. As referenced in an earlier blog entry, Bell Micro recently expanded its OEM-Ready programs and product offerings working with HP as a means of transforming itself to adapt to what is occurring in the embedded system manufacturer world. Specifically, embedded systems manufacturers such as Teneros are switching from designing and manufacturing their own custom motherboards and instead relying upon “white box”, off-the-shelf components and/or branded equipment in the construction and distribution of their appliances.
This was part of the motivation for Teneros selecting HP over generic white box providers. The components (CPU, memory, storage, motherboard) in an HP ProLiant may look the same on the surface as a system from another manufacturer. The issue becomes how well do these different components work together once assembled within the server and then interact with one another short and long term. When buying white boxes from other “nameless” manufacturers, one doesn’t always know what level of interoperability testing occurs before the system is shipped and if all of the components will interoperate flawlessly with one another. These assurances of availability and interoperability are absolutely critical when deploying Microsoft Exchange.
Equally important, once the Teneros email continuity appliance is out in the field, who will support it? It is unlikely that white box manufacturers can since they are focused on manufacturing, not support. In contrast, HP has the end-to-end value chain that Teneros needs to support its platform out in the field.
So if HP offers the product and service value required by Teneros, then what does Bell Micro offer? Part of what Bell Micro provides to OEM partners like Teneros is further enhancement of HP service offerings, such as enabling Teneros to participate in HP’s Authorized Support Partner (ASP) program. This program authorizes Teneros to provide break/fix service on parts deployed to their customers, so that their customer’s don’t have to make calls and do the legwork. Bell Micro can even step in and provide additional help if and when Teneros needs it. In short, Bell Micro has helped HP and Teneros think through the unique service requirements that OEM businesses require – and then Bell Micro has worked with HP to make sure that those services are in place and available to their OEM partners.
In the case of Teneros, however, there is another unique value that Bell Micro adds in response to unique OEM requirements: Bell Micro has agreed to assist Teneros in bringing their appliance solution to market by offering it to other HP VARs.
Bell Micro is better positioned to help Teneros in its selection and acquisition of the HP equipment than even HP is since it understands Teneros’ internal processes and what its specific hardware requirements are for the appliances it is constructing. Understanding how Teneros’ appliances are constructed comes into play since Bell Micro has agreed to distribute Teneros appliances to the VARs that buy from Bell Micro. When VARs inquire about the Teneros email continuity appliance, Bell Micro is uniquely positioned to explain what the Teneros appliance does and how it is constructed to help VARs, and ultimately their customers, understand the value proposition that Teneros and HP jointly offer.
The partnership between HP and Teneros grabbed the headlines but the relationship in the background between Bell Micro, HP and Teneros is what made the headline possible. By leveraging Bell Micro’s unique insight and access into embedded system manufacturers coupled with its HP partnership, Teneros was able to build a more robust appliance and then use Bell Micro to promote and re-distribute its appliance to VARs and ultimately to end-users. By facilitating these end-to-end relationships and providing everyone deeper insight into the processes, Bell Micro stands poised to create an entirely new value proposition that uniquely positions Bell Micro to answer, and provide, the right combination of products and information that is needed in today’s competitive environment.