Advancing Life & Work

Master ASE Perspectives: Markus Gruber on HPE Discover

Contributing author: Markus Gruber

I work for Comport Consulting Corp, an HPE Platinum partner, and we send a large contingent to HPE Discover. Not everyone from the company can go, so I have to sell my management on the value of attending. That has been easy the last few years. Attending HPE Discover helps my company, helps my customers and helps me. I’d like to share with you a few of the compelling reasons I use to convince my management.

How my company benefits

Attending HPE Discover benefits Comport by helping me obtain certifications required to maintain our Platinum level of partnership. The technical requirements for a Platinum Partner revolve around achieving certifications. I hold Master ASE certifications in Networking, Servers, and Storage. It takes a lot to keep current in all three disciplines, and HPE Discover helps me do that very easily and cost-effectively. The HPE certification program makes pre-event training available to partners at no additional cost. Last year, two new product certifications were introduced at HPE Discover, OneView and Synergy. I was able to attend training classes on-site for both certifications and take my exams for free. I achieved both certifications while attending HPE Discover with no cost to Comport for the training courses and exams. HPE recognized the first 100 Synergy product certified engineers with reserved seating for the keynote speeches, a certificate, and a souvenir cap to mark the achievement.

Dominic Santo showing off his Synergy 100 commemorative ball cap.Dominic Santo showing off his Synergy 100 commemorative ball cap.

Attending HPE Discover gets you access to the most up-to-date training taught by the best instructors in a live setting where you can interact with your fellow students. This year the first public offering of the HPE Synergy Integrator training will be delivered at HPE Discover. The course offers labs delivered on actual hardware for the most real world experience possible. Ken Radford, the course developer, will deliver the training. What an opportunity to get live training presented by the person who knows the course better than anyone! Oh, and did I mention there is no charge for that training?

Attending Discover also benefits Comport by giving me exposure to the latest and future products HPE is developing. HPE Discover attendees are the first to see newly released products and in some cases the future. I was at HPE Discover when Meg Whitman told the world that HPE was working on The Machine. In recent years the scientists working on developing The Machine have been bringing their breakthroughs to the show floor and showing everyone the future of computing. There is a non-disclosure area where you can see what the engineering teams are working on. It was here that I first saw VMware VVols. Sometimes product updates that are almost ready to be released will be featured. Some groups use the non-disclosure area to find out what partners and customers would really like them to be focusing engineering efforts on.

How my customer benefits

Attending HPE Discover also benefits our customers. Except for the pre-event training, customers can attend the same sessions I do. We can attend the expo together, and I can see what catches my customer’s eye. We can visit the expo areas exhibiting the product my customer is considering and find engineers and product managers that can answer any question my customers can come up with. Comport hosts a suite where our customers can sit down and meet with HPE executives.

Not everything that happens at HPE Discover is about the sale; sometimes it just comes down to people being people. One year I was contacting my colleagues to see who would want to go to the Hofbrauhaus for dinner on the last night of the event and one of the salespeople mentioned his customer would still be around, could we invite him also? What started as a couple of people wrapping up HPE Discover with a good German dinner, quickly became a Team Comport event with over a dozen attendees. It really hit home for one of our customers who said he grew up on this food and it brought back a flood of great childhood memories. I was glad that a simple act of kindness blossomed into something so special for one of our customers.

How I benefit

Along with the benefits to Comport and our customers, there are personal benefits that come with attending HPE Discover. When I look at “My Learning” on the partner portal, it shows that I hold 39 current certifications. As you can imagine, the HPE certification program is very important to me. Not only does it allow me to validate my skills and provide benefit to my company, but it provides a community. One of my favorite spots at HPE Discover is the certified professional lounge. Every year the Partner Ready Certification and Learning program hosts a lounge where members (both certified and not yet certified professionals) can gather to network and meet the people behind the scenes in the program office. I love being able to get reacquainted with the people that are working behind the scenes to make the HPE certification program the best. While you are in the certified professionals lounge seek out the Partner Enablement Managers; Paul Bartman, John Falco and Rebecca O’Brien. Oftentimes you’ll find the Americas Partner Enablement Manager, Rich Gossman, and the Senior Manager for Certification Development, Jim Lucari, in the lounge as well. I find the program office really cares what we think and are looking for our feedback. They are as much a part of the certified professional community as the certified engineers.

Master ASE receptionMaster ASE reception

One of my favorite events is the Master ASE reception. It’s great to be able to network with my peers and discuss what we are seeing in the field. We all act as trusted advisors to our customers. Part of being that trusted advisor is to have a clear Point of View (POV) and to be able to articulate that to our customers. Networking with my peers helps me tune that POV and work on the skills I need to clearly present that to my customers. I’ve developed strong friendships in the group and we often provide support to each other. Over the past few years, we’ve had HPE executive participation at the Master ASE reception, last year HPE Vice President Steven Hagler attended. It’s great to be able to meet with the executive leadership to hear what they feel the direction of the program should be and to provide our feedback. I have heard that this year, the Aruba Certified Experts will be included in this VIP activity.

Greg Hills of Comport Consulting Corp. with Steven Hagler, VP Global Field and Partner Enablement, Hewlett Packard EnterpriseGreg Hills of Comport Consulting Corp. with Steven Hagler, VP Global Field and Partner Enablement, Hewlett Packard Enterprise

At HPE Discover in 2015, the Master ASE Partner Advisory Council was born. About a dozen Master ASEs were invited to participate, along with representatives from HPE Partner Ready Certification and Learning. The Council is an open forum to discuss the state of the program and its direction. The council is chaired by Patti Moy, the Director of Partner Enablement for North America. Patti has facilitated meetings with HPE executives to discuss the concerns of the partner business community.



HPE Discover: gateway to greatness

Opportunity is why I want to attend HPE Discover. Change is why I have to. I have the opportunity to provide value to Comport by getting the training I need to obtain the certs that fulfill the Platinum Partner Ready program requirements. This allows Comport to keep up with the changes in our industry and hopefully keeps us ahead of the competition. I have the opportunity to provide value to my customers by engaging with them and getting them access to resources needed to maximize the benefit of their HPE solutions. I can observe first hand their reaction to change and guide them to embrace that change and benefit from it.  I have the opportunity to participate in the HPE certified professional community and voice my opinion on the direction of the program. I can shape the change. I’d finish up by saying HPE Discover is the gateway to greatness, why wouldn’t you want to go through it?


Meet triple threat Master ASE, Markus Gruber, with Comport Consulting Corp. Markus is a Senior Solution Architect with 15 years at Comport. He is based in Long Island, NY and faces becoming an empty-nester in September with trepidation.





Training registration must be done via the Partner Ready Certification and Learning button when you register for Discover. If you have already registered for Discover, log back into your Discover profile to access the Partner Ready Certification and Learning button and training registration. Once you register for the Discover you will then have access to register for training via the training class scheduler. Class sizes are limited and fill very quickly! View the technical training available at Discover.

About the Author


I’ve been in marketing in high-tech for 20+ years.


Markus really helps us a lot too. We owe a lot to him, and to all the other certified professionals, as they have helped make our program as strong as it is today.

Ken Kirchoff

Markus and the Comport team have been a helpful and valuable partner for us over the past few years, and I've enjoyed interacting with the Comport team at Discover.  We will be attending again so that we can keep our edge on our intrastructure.