Hewlett-Packard Co. (HP) rolled out several changes to its PartnerOne partner programs at its annual Americas Partners Conference in Las Vegas this week -- including new benefits for channel partners.
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Included is the Green Expressway, now part of the PartnerOne partner portal. It details the company's energy-efficiency programs, environmental news and related industry research. The site goes live this week and aims to make it easier to move HP technology into environmentally conscious accounts.
In addition, on Wednesday, Vyomesh Joshi, the executive vice president of HP's $25-billion-a-year Imaging and Printing Group (IPG) business, showed a new tool to help IPG customers estimate the carbon footprint of their existing print and document setup and help HP and its partners recommend plans to reduce it.
In the area of storage, a key focus at the event -- and for HP this year -- the company launched a new Storage Select Authorization to help eligible partners resell storage into the midmarket. The authorization covers sales of the new HP StorageWorks Enterprise Virtual Array 4400 (EVA4400) and low-end EVA4X00 products, software, services and options.
Partners like Rick Chernick, CEO of Camera Corner/Connecting Point Computer Center in Green Bay, Wis., came to Las Vegas hoping to hear more about HP's storage solutions and programs.
These partners were also happy to hear in advance of the event that HP is combining two VAR-facing portals so that partners going after new accounts don't have to log into one system to get pricing and another to register the opportunity.
"That's a step in the right direction. Vendors and distributors like Ingram Micro all have multiple websites, and it's difficult and cumbersome and time-consuming to deal with," Chernick said before the show.
"Resellers don't have the time or energy to remember all the different passwords -- it could be a full-time job. I agree that HP has all this wonderful information but no reseller has the time to spend looking at all the sites," he added.
Partners using HP's new Technology Solutions Group Value Big Deal site will submit info using a new deal registration tool that combines New Business Opportunity (NBO) data and Value Big Deals into "one, streamlined process," according to the company.
More PartnerOne benefits
There are also new "upfront benefits" for partners selling specific HP enterprise storage products and services to new customers or commercial accounts. The NBO benefit lets partners get prices and other information in the early phase of negotiations.
Tech vendors are increasingly pushing partners to attack "net new" businesses instead of just servicing existing accounts, which typically become hotbeds for conflict between partners and the vendors' direct sales forces.
HP channel programs have their hiccups, but several partners talking to SearchITChannel.com said the company remains best-of-breed in partner relationships.
"HP and Novell offer the best partner programs still, by far," said Scott Crosby, general manager of Encompass Iowa LLC, an HP BladeSystems, Storage and ProCurve networking partner out of Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
Still, there's always room for improvement.
Several smaller partners said they still struggle to get attention from HP's large Technology Solutions Group (TSG). And many pointed to account true-up troubles sparked by HP's continuing work to converge its back-end ERP systems. The company is in the second year of a three-year plan to standardize on a single SAP ERP system.
Partners say vendors must tread a fine line between responding to partner requests for change and maintaining consistency and predictability.
"Unfortunately these programs change every year. It would be nice to have a little more consistency," Encompass's Crosby said.