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HP appoints new channel chief

As HP continues to depend on the channel to increase its sales, the company has turned to a young executive to bring energy to its channel program.

Hewlett Packard Corp., today announced that it has hired a 40-year-old with decades of experience in the storage market to oversee its channel in the Americas.

Adrian Jones, introduced to the press and analysts at a teleconference Friday night – took over Thursday as vice president and general manager of the Solutions Partners Organization – Americas. His main task is to drive growth for HP partners through programs like the HP PartnerONE program and further build market share in the mid-market. HP executives have said they want their channel partners to increase HP's presence among small and medium (SMB) businesses.

"It's a thrill for me to be here," Jones said at today's introductory conference call, "I've sold to HP for many years and through HP's channels as well as sold against HP for many years."

Jones said he'll be spending the next 30 days meeting partners and gathering information on what works well and what doesn't work well for them.

"I don't want to go just to the best accounts.....I want to go to the accounts that are more challenging, I want to go to the accounts that we may have some difficulties with today," Jones said. "For me it's about making sure that we understand clearly what impacts their business and what is important to their business and make sure that we act upon that and we execute upon that," Jones said.

HP's partners will be watching Jones' progress with a keen eye, and some of them have their own hopes for the new channel executive.

"Adrian's biggest challenge as he takes over management of the channel will be integrating the strengths of the channel and the HP direct team, to simplify customers business complexity and to help these customers gain a competitive advantage," said Gary Johnston, president of IT Partners, a Phoenix, Ariz.-based HP partner. "I'd like to see Adrian overcome this challenge during his first year," Johnston added.

Jones has an extensive background not only in sales, but also with selling storage solutions through the channel. Prior to joining HP, Jones was senior vice president of worldwide sales and services at McDATA Corp. -- recently bought by Brocade Communications Systems Inc. In this role he managed 90% of the company's business through its channel partners.

Jones also spent ten years at Quantum Corp., another storage system provider. There he served as vice president of worldwide sales and grew Quantum's worldwide channel business by more than 40%.

Also in Jones' background are stints with two other well known storage companies: Pillar Data Systems, and BakBone Software Inc, which develops storage software.

HP executives hope that Jones' success will translate to higher sales of HP's servers, storage, software and service and networks, which have lagged behind such items as laptops, desktops and workstations.

"As you probably know the growth in our value business has not been at the same level it has been in the volume business and I think he's going to help us in that space," said Mike Larson, senior vice president and general manager of HP's personal systems group.

Jones said his background at McDATA has helped him sell a combination of technologies, something HP is pushing to do with sales of servers and storage, for example,

"McDATA was very much a company that sold solutions, everything from telco bandwidth, to a switch or a director," Jones said. "Obviously we are looking to capitalize on the full breadth of product portfolio that we have as a company. It is different, but the principles are the same," Jones added.

However, IDC analyst Janet Waxman said that a background in storage does not necessarily make a good channel executive.

"The channel is more about understanding the sales motion than it is necessarily about the specific product," Waxman said. "You've got to be able to understand how to sell, so while he has a lot of experience in the storage market, to a certain extend the channel is the channel," Waxman added.

Waxman also said Jones has a tough act to follow.

"John Thomspon left HP's channel in pretty good shape, those are going to be big shoes to fill." Waxman said

Jones takes the channel helm at a time when HP is enjoying a spate of good news including last months' first quarter report that showed revenues for the quarter ended Jan. 31 at $1.5 billion compared to $1.2 billion during the same quarter a year earlier.

HP got more good news this week when IDC reported that HP had maintained the No. 2 spot in worldwide server systems sales with a 26.8% share for the fourth quarter of 2006, growing revenues by 5.1 % compared with the same quarter in 2005.

Let us know what you think about this story; email: Nicole Lewis, Senior News Writer.

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