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Top takeaways from Hewlett Packard APC 2010

Hewlett Packard’s big partner confab kicks off in earnest in an hour or so with a keynote by Stephen DiFranco, Lynn Pendergrass, Randy Seidl, Stephen DeWitt. But here are some takeaways from morning meetings.

1: Most HP execs so far have been coy about if and how the Oracle-Sun data center hardware push will affect the market. HP has, however, just hired a Sun vet, John Cammarelli,  to head HP Canada.

Overall, HP still seems very focused on Cisco for now.

2: The official word is that the timing of this week’s HP Americas Partner Conference event, which coincides with the previously planned Cisco Partner Summit was “truly a coincidence.”

“This was not a planned overlap and we wouldn’t purposely plan an event against a competitor because it’s difficult for the resellers,” said Tom LaRocca, vp of marketing and strategy for the HP’s Americas partner organization.

3: HP CEO Mark Hurd and other poohbahs are meeting– even as I type — over at the Vdara with 3Com partners. A little welcome aboard is in order since the 3Com deal closed last week.

4: The company claims complete agnosticism when it comes to virtualization vendors. Where some see HP getting even cozier than ever with Microsoft and Hyper-V as a reaction to Cisco and EMC’s tight VMware ties, HP contends there is no preference at all.

5: SMBs are bigger than ever and the vendor is bulking up–adding 42% more channel-supporting sales staff to work with partners. The goal? To win more SMB accounts “from our friends in Austin,” and other rivals. That is part of the newly expanded SMB Elite program kicking off May 1.

HP clearly thinks the SMB segment is ready to shake off its recessionary funk. IDC numbers show the computing giant has a measly 8.5% of that market where Dell remains the leader.

That’s  $57 billion market in the U.S. representing 12 million customers, said Meaghan Kelly, VP of strategy and SMB for HP’s partner organization. Make no mistake: Kelly has sliced and diced this market to a faretheewell.

6: HP execs insist the company has rectified its storage deficit   which many partners blasted at the last APC.  The acquisition of Left Hand Networks, the EBA road map, the new MSA gear has gone a long way to help HP’s storage story although Frank Rauch, vp of ESSN channel sales admits there is still work to do.

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