This blog entry contains a series of questions DCIG posed to Jeff Otchis, OEM Program Manager at HP. Jeff’s role consists of supporting and growing the ISS (Industry Standard Servers) OEM business through the Americas channel by working closely within HP and with channel partners to define business metrics and increase the revenue stream through OEM efforts. In this interview, Jeff gives us his insight and perspective on OEMs, how OEMs fit into HP’s program, and how HP has been working with Bell Micro.
DCIG: Jeff, while you’ve been with HP for almost 10 years, you’ve been OEM Program Manager at HP for only 9 months, surely there has been a hurdle or two making the transition. What would you say your biggest challenge or learning curve has been?
Jeff: The biggest learning curve for me is remembering that this isn’t a transactional purchase. There is a significant sales cycle here. HP has become accustomed to companies asking for 1,000 servers and walking out the door with them. The OEM solution is very different because, in part, there may be additional certification requirements or customization. Even if the solution calls for standard HP servers the OEM is likely to ask for additional engineering support to test and certify the specific configuration for legal and quality purposes. There is just a long selling, test and certification cycle before a single unit goes out the door.
DCIG: Just to level-set our readers, how does HP define OEM business in terms of solution and focus?
Jeff: Our definition of an OEM is a company out there who has a piece of technology that they want to partner with and put on someone else’s platform to help get their overall solution out to customers. The technology is usually single focused but the HP portion of the technology should be less than 50% of the overall solution. Our goal is to take advantage of the size and scope of Bell Micro’s sales force, their logistic capabilities, financing abilities, etc. and really meet the small and mid-market customers who historically have deployed white box or Dell solutions and get them on a HP solution.
DCIG: How are you coming along in meeting these objectives? Where have you seen the greatest progress or achievements during the last year?
Jeff: We have made a lot of great progress with Bell Micro. We’ve finished all of our field training, done a variety of webinars and calls with the field, put together some great collateral pieces, and updated websites. The field sales force has a solid foundation and is ready to go and talk about the HP ProLiant and BladeSystem value added capabilities. It’s really hard to sell the value of HP if you don’t understand what that value is and that’s where we’ve really been focused–Getting everyone, both sales and technical people, on the Bell Micro team up to speed on what we feel our capabilities are.
DCIG: What would you say HP’s value is?
Jeff: It’s interesting as I’ve been working with industry standard computing for over 10 years now and HP has always managed to stay 1 or 2 steps ahead of the competition. We are able to take the same processor, memory, hard drive, and other technologies and focus on innovation. Remembering and getting that message across is not always easy. I can remember, earlier in my career, HP went through a stage where people got caught up in price comparisons.
Now we are going back to what we do best which is focusing on the overall solution and remembering that with HP the acquisition cost is less important than the total cost of ownership. So doing innovative things like common spares that can be used across the entire product portfolio to save both our OEM and Bell Micro money because they have to have fewer pieces of hardware in the service depot, continuity of look and feel across our entire product portfolio so you don’t have to spend significant time coming up to speed on the next generation of technology are critical values.
DCIG: Understanding how the OEM program works and how it can also work as an advantage for an OEM customer to bring a solution back through Bell Micro’s reseller community with their GoServices program, do you see that as being helpful and does HP value what Bell Micro is able to add to what you can offer to the market?
Jeff: Absolutely, it’s really the total package of how all the parts work together seamlessly for an OEM and the support business for the complete life cycle. I think Bell is able to really come in and help when a company comes up with a solution but doesn’t want to touch hardware, deal with shipping or logistics, or deal with server hardware failures. They probably are looking for a standard trusted brand in the industry that gives them immediate credibility out of the gate.
This is where the HP and Bell Micro partnership works perfectly because they work with Bell Micro to put their software on the HP ProLiant servers, deploy it, and then never have to touch anything. And because the solution has a history of reliability and technology they are less likely to deal with phone calls because of hardware failure or lack of continuity of the image build.
DCIG: With the economic conditions right now, is there anything you are doing financially to help OEMs get their products out in the market quicker?
Jeff: I would say that is were Bell Micro’s capabilities come in. While HP does have a complete HP financial services organization that is able to come in and do that, HP is fully aware that one of Bell Micro’s greatest value-adds is their financial flexibility and support. Finance is a key area where Bell Micro is able to help these smaller OEMs that may need a little assistance in that area. But, given the HP and Bell Micro relationship, if Bell Micro were to say they have this great opportunity and it requires pulling in HP financial services, we absolutely could do that.
DCIG Final Thoughts: OEMs are learning that partnerships are critical to quickly deploying solutions in the marketplace. Key relationships, such as HP and Bell Micro, take time to develop. The good news is that HP and Bell Micro seem to have figured out how they complement one another and HP’s quality engineering coupled with Bell Micro services seem to be a match made for OEMs.