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HP strips partners of their “metals,” revamps partner designations

So, the word is out: Hewlett-Packard is collapsing its PartnerOne program for resellers, VARs and other IT solution providers, stripping it of all those precious metals designations and creating, instead, new labels that it thinks will mean something more to potential customers.

So now, you have the choice to be an HP Business Partner, an HP Preferred Partner or an HP Elite Partner. What’s more, these designations will hold true across the entire company. No more do you have to worry about being “mere” Gold in one area, yet Platinum in another product line. “We finally got all the business units at HP to agree that if you are a preferred partner and you meet this revenue goal, then you will have sales coverage, you will have opportunity coverage, you will get preferred pricing,” says Tom LaRocca, vice president of marketing and strategy for HP’s Solution Partners Organization for the Americas.

I spoke with LaRocca about the changes late last week. SearchITChannel’s Senior News Editor Barbara Darrow writes about the specifics of the changes in her news story here. And here’s a separate link to the complete press kit about the changes.

So, I won’t regurgitate the details of what’s happening. But here’s my initial take on these changes:

The Good

– It SEEMS simpler on the surface, plus the terms Preferred and Elite mean more to me that the old terms. (Even though that’s pretty much what everyone uses.) HP will use “Preferred Partner” in its customer-facing marketing materials, to boot, which gives these partners a leg up.

– Moving forward, HP will focus on certifying partners around solutions rather than products. What’s more, that solution might include content from a third party. The first area that LaRocca says will be a focus is Virtualization through HP’s relationship with VMware.

– Hurray for breaking down the barriers between the HP business units. You’ve told partners to represent your entire product line, now you’re making it easier for the smaller ones to do so. LaRocca won’t reveal the revenue number a partner must hit to reach Preferred but said in some cases it will be much lower than what some VARs are used to producing.

The Bad (and Somewhat Confusing)

– I like the idea of certifications and recognition being solutions-focused, but what if you’re a reseller who sells a different virtualization solution atop HP hardware? Yes, there others and what happens when Microsoft gets serious? Does this mean you need to switch that allegiance or will HP add other flavors of virtualization?

– I’m not sure that I understand, yet, exactly how leads will be doled out among Preferred partners. If there are multiple Preferreds in a given region (there will be around 1,000 worldwide), what formula will be used to pass leads along? Revenue? Specialty? Relationships with the HP field sales team? LaRocca suggested it would be done in rotation, but this doesn’t seem to make much sense to me. Shouldn’t a healthcare lead, as an example, get passed to the best healthcare VAR? I need more metrics here.

The bottom line, in any event, is that the world’s biggest technology company has put a stake in the ground that makes it clear what it wants out of partners—a serious investment in solutions and attention to multiple production lines. It will only be a matter of time before other vendors counter or follow HP’s lead.

Heather Clancy is an award-winning business journalist and strategic communications consultant with SWOT Management Group. You can e-mail her at

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Do you think the Microsoft Surface will take market share from the iPad?
Simply put: I work with 2 laptops, a Lenovo T60 that I the keyboard and i7HP that I have to work because of the power. The Surface will allow me to possibly get rid of both and not have to carry pieces of furniture around my customers!
I say no, at least not now. Microsoft is coming in late in the game, but who knows, time will tell.
It seems you think people CHOOSE to use Microsoft products. Most don't. We're forced to use their crashy, buggy, slow OS on cobbled together hardware because Microsoft has the money to subsidize HW for business knowing they'll make it up in Office and exchange licensing. Mostly because most MBA bean-counter management gets their IT 'smarts from SkyMall.

This stranglehold is pretty unassailable, so Apple & Google took another route. appeal to the consumers - When people have a choice as to what they use. And they have SPOKEN. Take a look at RIM, the darling of business, that didn't quite have the means to do what Microsoft does. RIM is certainly as cool as Microsoft. RIM is RIP.

The Microsoft surface will be DOA. The 'cheap' one running RT will have 1/6th the apps of an Android or iOS device. Clearly, this could be a turn-off. BUT you can run office a few months early. Wheeee!

The Surface Pro will certainly replace laptop functionality... unless you want to use it on your lap... Given the postage stamp sized touchpad, tiny, cramp-inducing keyboard-that-we-don't-know-if-it-works, and lots of windows software not-built with a touch UI in mind... Well, maybe there is an untapped market share of people who long to have a tablet that needs AV, or want to use regedit, but can't.

lastly, the 'cool factor' aspect is HILARIOUS. When has Microsoft EVER been cool? OS/2 was cooler. Was Win ME ever cool? OSX IS Cooler. Chrome will be cooler. When has anyone ever said Ballmer/Gates was one smooth dude with some slick ideas. I'm thinking never.

In regards to Microsoft, I think George carlin said it best: "You ain't cool; you're chilly. And chilly ain't ever been cool."
I love iPad besides microsoft OS has too many flaws for all the money they pour into R&Dl Up to now basic flaws still there after many many years,,
Withe the intercompatibility from Desktop/Tablet/Phone I can see a clear picture of people touching and getting used to it at some point and the more touches people have on it the more mass effect will drive it to success. I know a couple of people with Apple products now, but the majority still use windows for PC's, that is one touch, after the release of the tablet's the techno lead buyers will be jumping on it and with the last year of developement and testing phases, I think Microsoft has a good idea of any flaws that might slow down any market saturation and has mitigated them fairly well. There is always going to be some that will not integrate unless they are forced to, but the masses typically rule the minors in technology pushes. Apple will not go away for sure, but I believe they will feel the push from Microsoft on this one.
Absolutely, MS tablet will kill the iPAD.
understand consumer market
Kinda like how the Zune totally whiped out the iPod in the consumer maerket? Because people *love* Microsoft. Ohwait...

But... but.. the Zune HD???? wait.... The Kin?... All those Win 7 Phones?... Hmmmm.

May you just don't know much about mobile device trends from the past 5 years?

I mean they had this visionary at Microsoft's helm:

“$500 fully subsidized with a plan! I said that is the most expensive phone in the world and it doesn’t appeal to business customers because it doesn’t have a keyboard, which makes it not a very good email machine …. I like our strategy. I like it a lot….Right now we’re selling millions and millions and millions of phones a year, Apple is selling zero phones a year. In six months, they’ll have the most expensive phone by far ever in the marketplace and let’s see… let’s see how the competition goes.”
- Steve Ballmer, Microsoft CEO, 17 January 2007

"It’s a nice reader, but there’s nothing on the iPad I look at and say, ‘Oh, I wish Microsoft had done it.’”
Bill Gates 10-Feb-2010

Well played, Bill. I'd hate to move 3 MILLION units in a weekend too. Sounds like huge hassle.
I have and love my iPad - but it ain't no mac and it ain't no PC - .... so full OSX on an iPad - will have to be the ultimate - but Apple will never do that so ... surface will take share but not a lot... cool is cool and the iPad is cool.
About 3 years late
Job is out of the way now he is dead. He was the man behind most of Apples success
ipad is a toy
i ll want x86 surface
the msoffice users will be glad to have their files readily available in surface as is
The iPod is too far ahead for Microsoft to now try to play catch-up. It needs to come up with it's own "stack in the ground" initiative
I think it'll be pretty difficult. But time would tell. I believe anything Microsoft lays its hands on has the potential to succeed.
Have you tried Vista? I think Microsoft 'laying hands' on anything is generally a recipe for disaster. At least they are getting rid of .Net and Silverlight.
I do not get your article.. you are comparing what you use your iphone for and your Dell Latitude - gee did I miss something? What is that going to prove - c'mon Christina.
What would have been interesting as a comparison would be that your Surface has totally removed any need for the iGadgets (which I have and love) or that it you have yet to see the wonders of the MacBook as you simple are not able to do your work on that compared to the efficiency of your Dell W7 monster :-)
If it's capable of domain intergration it can be a huge success
The beauty of having the same Domain managed OS from tablet to server has enormous appeal. iPads are great but from an enterprise mangement point of view they present serious problems which I am hoping the Surface will resolve. Then we need to keep our corporate data centralized and not spread around the mobile workforce like Access databases of past.
It could; depending on good reviews.
no way, better real than a copy.