“HP’s product leadership foreshadows more powerful architectures”

The latest toy that Singapore-based Sonny Ng has to push in the market is Hewlett Packard (HP’s) new NetServer LXr 8500. As the Server Product Regional Category Manager, Sonny’s job is to develop, implement and expand all Windows NT NetServer marketing activities in the region. A graduate from the University of California, Sonny joined HP in the US in 1982 and held several senior positions in finance, marketing and channel organizations. He moved to Asia Pacific in 1994 and established HP’s manufacturing facility in China. Prior to his current appointment, Sonny was HP’s business unit manager for the small business market in the Asia Pacific. CI met Sonny at Bintan, Indonesia, during the launch of LXr 8500 to find out the role that HP is envisaging for channels in its business strategy.

What status does the channel enjoy in HP’s business model?

HP’s business model consists of three main elements. These are HP Prime, Channel Prime and On-line Prime. In HP Prime, HP is the prime contractor to supply solutions directly to some of the major customers across the world. We have many of these large accounts in the US. In the case of HP Prime, the customer has only one neck to chop, and that is of HP even if HP sub-contracts the order to channel partners! The same case is with Channel Prime where a channel partner is the prime contractor in doing business with customers. Here it is the channel partner’s neck that will be on the block!

In most of Asia-Pacific, especially in Singapore and Australia, channel partners have very good business relationship with end-users and they are the prime contractors for HP’s business. In both, HP Prime and Channel Prime, the channel partners play a major role in doing business with the end-user.

The difference between HP Prime and Channel Prime lies with respect to the value delivery chain. The third element of HP’s business model is On-Line Prime that involves the implementation of HP’s current business strategies through the electronic media. Here again, HP and channel partners work together to provide complete solutions to end-users.

What strategy do you use while working with channels?

Channels play a critical role in HP’s overall business strategy. The channel strategy perspective helps us to look at the market from a new level. From a corporate angle we look at what our customers need. These needs are better understood by channels whom keep in constant touch with customers. Worldwide and in particular Asia-Pacific, we are trying to listen to our channel partners to ensure that we deliver what customers want. We want the channel partners to deliver HP products to customers as one piece, as one complete solution. In Asia-Pacific region we are keeping the channels updated on our products so that they deliver as per the needs of the customers.

What business opportunities can your channel partners look forward to in HP today?

HP sees high growth in mission-sensitive and mission-critical areas. The mission-sensitive areas include groupware, messaging, data marts and Intranet while mission-critical areas include ERP, financials and accounting, e-business and providing service on the Internet. HP has solutions meant for all these areas in terms of different classes of servers that the channel partners can fully exploit to their advantage. Also, over the years, HP has built up very strong solutions partners including Microsoft, Oracle, PeopleSoft, SAP and Marathon Technologies. The tie-up with Marathon Technologies has helped us to deliver high performance on NT-based servers. Our partnership with Oracle has resulted in providing solutions in the areas of e-commerce, data warehousing, communications and government. PeopleSoft and HP have delivered leading-edge business solutions to the enterprises. SAP and HP have successfully partnered in Unix environment and now will provide inter-enterprise business solutions on the NT platform. Channels can fully leverage on these successful partnerships that HP has diligently built up.

How are you planning to push your new NetServer Lxr 8500 through the channels?

We are basically training the channel on the new server to ensure that they understand our product. We want to provide them with sufficient sales tools. In the server arena, the most important thing is the transfer of know-how. The channel partners who sell the server have to know how to manage a network because the server is the heart of the network. We are aiming the new server primarily at the corporate resellers. We are also looking at the server from the small and medium enterprise (SME) channel perspective. What we want do is provide mission-critical solutions to our customers through the channels.

What strengths does the channel perceive in HP today?

With the launch of NetServer LXr 8500, HP has brought the performance usually associated with Unix systems to Windows NT and other environments. HP’s product leadership foreshadows larger and more powerful architectures specially in the server segment. The channel is very excited about NetServer LXr 8500 that is scalable up to eight Intel Pentium III Xeon 550 MHz processors. The new server has best-in-class reliability and tools that help towards intelligent management.

What are some of these tools?

HP has TopTools 4.5 that includes the flexibility to control a heterogenous environment with support for HP 9000 enterprise servers. TopTools has the ability to report on the configuration changes over time. HP’s TopTools remote control card eases remote administration by allowing group actions. An administrator can take action on a group of servers with one simple command.

What percentage of business do channels contribute in Asia-Pacific region?

Today, in Asia-Pacifc, almost 90-95 percent of HP’s business is generated through the channel.

Sylvester Lobo In Bintan, Indonesia

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