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Secret HPE letter tells sales team and partners to keep selling Arista 'confidently'

HPE's all-but quoting Rick Astley as Cisco finds another way to nobble Arista imports

By Simon Sharwood, 30 Jan 2017

HPE has gone the full Rick Astley with Arista, telling its sales team and partners customers it will never give it up, let it down, run around or desert it.

In a hoped-to-be-secret letter to “HPE Sales and Channel Partners” sighted by The Register, and signed by HPE's chief of enterprise group sales Peter Ryan and veep/GM for data centre networking Dominic Wilde, the company says: “Recent developments in this case are likely to receive media attention, so we wanted to share this communication with you.”

Those “developments” are a January 13, 2017, letter [PDF] from the United States Customs and Border Protection agency (CBP) to Cisco, revoking a previous authorisation allowing Arista to resume importing products Cisco says breach its intellectual property rights.

Arista regained the right to import its kit in November 2016, and contends in a letter dated January 15 [PDF] that Cisco's action against it is motivated by a desire to reduce competition and give itself time to catch up to Arista rather than a legitimate IP concerc. Cisco accuses Arista of outright villainy.

HPE is caught up in this mess because, as spelled out in the letter, “Arista continues to be HPE’s preferred partner for Software Defined Networking across the Enterprise and Service Provider segments.”

Although Arista recently reported revenue growth, and is busy rebuilding its supply chain to avoid allegedly infringing components in its products, The Register is aware of one Global 100 customer that has walked away from the company citing possible shipment delays and uncertainty. We imagine others have done so too.

HPE seems to be trying to stop that sort of thing from happening more often, as its letter offers the following soothing comments:

We are committed to the success and stability of our customers and will continue to deliver Arista’s programmability, automation, telemetry and reliability at scale. These are key elements in our vision to be the industry's leading provider of hybrid IT, built on the secure, next-generation, software-defined infrastructure that will run customers' data centers today, bridge to multi-cloud environments tomorrow, and power the emerging intelligent edge that will run campus, branch and Industrial loT applications for decades to come. All delivered through a world class services capability. We need to continue to stay focused on our customers and partners while these issues are being worked. Please continue to sell confidently our joint HPE-Arista solutions.

Astley's song opens with the unforgettable lines: “We're no strangers to love / You know the rules and so do I / A full commitment's what I'm thinking of / You wouldn't get this from any other guy."

HPE is sure holding up its end of the bargain. But in tech, love is seldom forever. If HPE sees customers' eyes wandering and sales slipping, surely it will soon be singing a different tune? ®

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