Hewlett Packard Enterprise, which acquired ARUBA Networking last year, has been busy merging the wireless networking specialist’s products with its own offerings to provide a complete solution stack.
Within the next few months, the two channel operations will merge as well, signalling the conclusion of the acquisition.
But there are already significant opportunities in the merged product lines, as resellers get access to a full suite of networking solutions that now extend from the core right out to the edge.
Value-added distributor AxizWorkgroup is ahead of the game, says Hewlett Packard Enterprise Executive Jim Holland, and is working with partners to unlock opportunities for both Hewlett Packard Enterprise and ARUBA solutions.
As Hewlett Packard Enterprise’s biggest distributor, AxizWorkgroup takes pride in the fact that it has always been completely channel centric across the full stack of Hewlett Packard Enterprise solutions – and now ARUBA fills in any gaps that might have been encountered in the world of wireless networking.
The addition of ARUBA to the Hewlett Packard Enterprise offering gives it new legs in the wireless market, Holland adds, while opening up a broader market for ARUBA’s solutions.
“There are many more opportunities now with new markets opening up in terms of both business partners and end users.”
AxizWorkgroup isn’t waiting around for business, though: Holland explains that the distributor is actively focusing on the networking market in general, and ARUBA in particular.
“It’s what we have to do as a value-added distributor in the networking – in fact, in the cross-enterprise – space,” he says. “We have our own in-house skills, we work with the full enterprise stack and we are able to talk about how Hewlett Packard Enterprise and ARUBA fit into that stack.”
The opportunities are almost boundless, Holland adds, with ARUBA opening up new benefits to almost all vertical markets. And the channel is the main beneficiary of all these new opportunities since most of AxizWorkgroup’s partners haven’t previously had access to the ARUBA product line.
“In the past, ARUBA really had a very narrow channel focus, working with just a select number of partners,” says Holland “but now we have opened up our full channel to the ARUBA solutions.”
“This is a big opportunity that we are making available for the rest of the channel to take advantage of, and partners willing to invest and skill up on the ARUBA products will benefit hugely.”
The main challenge for AxizWorkgroup, he says, is ensuring that partners have a good understanding of the new solution stack and that they become certified in order to bring the new, expanded offering to the market.
This will be a lot easier from 1 November this year, when Hewlett Packard Enterprise will merge the ARUBA partner programme into the overall Hewlett Packard Enterprise programme.
“This will give resellers a lot more flexibility,” Holland comments. “It will also allow both AxizWorkgroup and Hewlett Packard Enterprise to get more predictability into the supply chain.”
Hewlett Packard Enterprise resellers will be familiar with the range of networking solutions traditionally available from the HP stable. But the addition of the ARUBA technology means that they can now assist their end user customers with solutions that range from the data centre to the remote user, covering the office, campus and edge in between.
AxizWorkgroup has geared itself up to help its partners to make the most of this significantly expanded opportunity, Holland says.
“If one of our partners identifies an opportunity with an end user, we will bring in our pre-sales team to help with the deal. Working with the end user and with HP, we will work with the partner to specify and propose the best possible solution for the customer.
“We believe that this working together in a collaborative way will reap maximum benefits for all of us: for Hewlett Packard Enterprise, for AxizWorkgroup and, importantly, for the reseller and his end user customer.”
Within the extensive AxizWorkgroup pre-sales team, six people are skilled in Hewlett Packard Enterprise offerings, with two of them holding additional ARUBA certifications. This team is ready and able to give partners and end users support and also to provide relevant education and skills transfer.
“We have made a huge investment in skills,” Holland says. “In fact, it has been my biggest investment in the last few years. At the end of the day, it means business partners have fewer expenses because we’ve made that investment for them.”
Putting together a skilled pre-sales team is the result of a significant investment from AxizWorkgroup, but being invested in a team that is able to help partners specify and close networking deals is just the start of the value-added distributor’s commitment to the Hewlett Packard Enterprise ARUBA offering.
“We have made a significant investment in demo equipment as well,” says Holland. “We have equipped out technical briefing centre with the ARUBA kit and bring partners and customers in to demonstrate the various technologies and benefits including security, management, interoperability with the core and much more.”
These and other benefits elevate AxizWorkgroup to value-added distributor status and Holland believes this makes it the distributor of choice when it comes to Hewlett Packard Enterprise and ARUBA deployments.
“We are the number one distributor in this market,” he says. “We have the scale and expertise to support the channel. In addition, we have the demo equipment and we work collaboratively with business partners to understand their customers’ business needs and tailor-make solutions.
“Importantly, we consider the customer’s technology and financial perspectives when we design a solution. We look at the business holistically and see what needs to be done to help the partner close a deal.”
“Through the group’s Centrafin offering, we can help out with financing and be quite flexible in this as well.”
Working closely with reseller partners is one side of the equation as AxizWorkgroup invests in its relationship with the vendors too.
“We work very closely with Hewlett Packard Enterprise and ARUBA to understand their channel strategies,” Holland says. “I believe Hewlett Packard Enterprise is the number one enterprise player in the world and AxizWorkgroup will continue to invest in it. End to end, there is no doubt that Hewlett Packard Enterprise is the top IT vendor.”
“There is a set of products through the original ARUBA supply chain and a Hewlett Packard Enterprise ARUBA stack available,” says Holland. “We are working closely with both business lines to ensure supply of specific solutions through ARUBA and volume kit through Hewlett Packard Enterprise.
“As the only distributor holding both distribution agreements we need to ensure accuracy and consistency in supply.”
From November, however, there will be a single go-to-market strategy when the two partner programmes merge.
Of course value-add is the cherry on top, but AxizWorkgroup is first and foremost a distributor and ensures that it fulfils its core distribution business as well.
“We have made a huge investment in stock,” says Holland. “We carry the full stack of Hewlett Packard Enterprise and ARUBA networking products. This is all about the core distribution functions of stock availability of key technologies while managing obsolescence and optimal working capital returns.
“It’s about having a clear understanding of the markets and upcoming opportunities.”
It’s early days yet for the merged Hewlett Packard Enterprise and ARUBA business, but the market seems to like the messaging, says Holland.
“It’s always difficult to pin these things down in numbers, but the market is there and there are opportunities aplenty. Every discussion we have had with end users about ARUBA has been positive.
“I would say that there is massive opportunity for growth in the wireless environment, particularly now that we are able to offer a full, end-to-end solution.”
By adding the ARUBA technology to its networking offering, Hewlett Packard Enterprise has significantly expanded its scope, while introducing innovative technology advances.
“ARUBA adds a more secure and manageable portfolio of the wireless kit,” Holland says. “The Clearpass tool, for instance, has taken the wireless environment to another level.
“With traditional Hewlett Packard Enterprise networking technology in the core and on the edge and ARUBA wireless controllers and access points and management, we can now offer a really good solution end to end.
“Of course, because it’s Hewlett Packard Enterprise, this end to end solution actually goes all the way from the compute layer, the full spectrum of storage solutions, HP Networking in the core as well as edge and ARUBA – all the management software and security that is required” Holland adds. “And all of it can be supplied and supported, via our reseller partners using either HP technical services or our own professional services.”
Significantly, AxizWorkgroup is not simply paying lip service to the ARUBA brand: the distributor’s parent company, Pinnacle Holdings, is planning to deploy HP wireless and ARUBA technology throughout the organisation.
“We already run our core networks, server and storage on Hewlett Packard Enterprise solutions, and now we are adding ARUBA to our own technology stack,” Holland says.
Giving customers what they really want …
Crafting a wireless networking solution for a customer is no trivial task – it requires a high level of skill, technological know-how and an understanding of the customer’s business that isn’t particularly easy to come by.
While the big value-added resellers may have the resources to employ teams of people with the required skills, small and medium-sized resellers might not always have the right resources available at a given time.
This is possibly the most important value-add that distributor AxizWorkgroup offers to its resellers – the ability to partner on the presales consulting to ensure that the reseller has access to a high level of expertise.
Gary Elias, who heads up business development and pre-sales at AxizWorkgroup, is the go-to man for enterprise consulting, and it’s his team that will go out to customers with reseller partners and help them to craft the best possible solution.
Networking is one part of the complete solution offering that Elias’s team offers, and two of his staff members are specifically skilled in networking, including Hewlett Packard Enterprise and ARUBA offerings.
Because he’s at the coalface, Elias arguably has the best view of what challenges customers are looking to overcome with networking solutions.
“We are seeing a lot of enquiries around wireless networking,” he says. “There is also a lot of interest, particularly in user access management – this seems to be where the pain point is at the moment.”
The fact that companies are focusing on user access management argues that they are still grappling with the challenge of managing Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) environments, Elias adds.
The days of relatively simple networking environments also look to be numbered. Elias points out that customers are talking about software-defined networking (SDN) and looking at how they can implement these technologies in their own environment.
Currently, SDN is still at the hype stage, Elias says, but he’s sure it’s about to take off. “The uptake so far has been quite small, but there will be major opportunities coming down the line.
“Fortunately, Hewlett Packard Enterprise and ARUBA have a really good SDN vision, with the technology to back it up.”
In fact, the integrated Hewlett Packard Enterprise and ARUBA product stack offers a number of benefits, Elias says. “For instance, some of the wireless technologies that were built into ARUBA switches have been brought into the Hewlett Packard Enterprise/ARUBA products. This helps us to deliver a better converged wired plus wireless solution.
“It lets us offer customers a richer, more complete solution.”
Among the crown jewels of the ARUBA offering is the wireless management solution Airwave, Elias adds. “This is a very rich wireless management structure that seamlessly integrates not only with HP’s data centre products but also with multiple vendors.”
Elias believes that ARUBA’s wireless management solution is a massive value-add and possibly the most significant part of its offering. “Airwave allows for troubleshooting from end to end – from the client connection, through the access point and all the way into switching architecture to highlight the probable cause of any problems in that chain.”
In addition, the user access management platform, Clearpass, helps to manage the on-boarding of clients for secure access and policy management, making the network more secure especially from a BYOD connectivity point of view.
Security can be extended all the way to the access points, which come standard with a stateful firewall that allows the administrator to configure policies to restrict certain web sites of access ports.
Elias stresses the Hewlett Packard Enterprise is one of the major players in data centre networking, offering highly available and large-scale deployments running the core infrastructure. The ARUBA stack adds to this line-up with high-level wireless products that include great management and security.
Elias and his team run the demo centre at AxizWorkgroup. “This is a fully-configured facility that is available to our partners,” he explains.
“Partners can use it in-house, or they can take particular pieces of hardware to run on a client’s own installation.”
This facility is a boon for small- to medium-sized resellers, but Elias says larger partners have also been using the centre. “ARUBA is a new product set for a lot of the HP resellers so they are relying on our expertise and assistance from Hewlett Packard Enterprise for skills,” Elias says.