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Leo’s HP cloud plans, Cuban’s home VAR message lead March stories

The top five news stories for March 2011 included HP’s evolving cloud strategy and whether its TouchPad can give the iPad a run for its money.

Considering the news that flowed from the Hewlett-Packard Summit 2011 and the HP APC conference in March, it’s not surprising that HP ruled the top stories in March. Some VARs liked what they heard from HP CEO Leo Apotheker (fewer budget cuts), but many weren’t sure what to make of his software-and-cloud strategy. One big theme from APC was whether HP’s new TouchPad with WebOS could compete with Apple’s iPad for business users. Also in the mix was the billionaire and former VAR Mark Cuban’s message to VARs that home integration is an untapped market. Take a look at the top five stories from March.

1. HP VARs wary of Apotheker's vision
Most HP VARs were intrigued by but unsure about Hewlett-Packard’s cloud computing and software strategy as outlined by CEO Leo Apotheker at the HP Summit. They wanted to hear more at HP’s Americas Partner Conference, and some wondered whether Apotheker’s cloud strategy would include partners beyond large service providers. And, many wondered if Apotheker was the right man to lead HP going forward.

2. Mark Cuban to VARs: Go home
When Mark Cuban, former VAR and current billionaire owner of the Dallas Mavericks, says a product or service is hot, smart VARs pay attention. Cuban said that there is a white-hot market for home VARs who specialize in traditional PC network integration and home entertainment. HP SMB home VARs (or “Larrys,” as HP channel chief Stephen DiFranco likes to call them) already make money setting up customers’ wireless networks for computing and  audio-video systems.

3. HP TouchPad seeks to exploit iPad Achilles’ heel
HP will use its much-hyped and yet-to-ship TouchPad/WebOS combination to take aim at the iPad’s lofty perch among business users. Attendees of the HP APC conference were intrigued by the idea that WebOS is more open than the Apple iOS and more locked down than Android, but HP needs to back up its promise that the products will be available come summer.

4. Cloud, software push puts HP at odds with Microsoft
The main questions HP VARs asked themselves after Leo Apotheker presented his vision of Hewlett-Packard as a software and cloud computing company were: Will the company compete with Microsoft in the cloud and will HP-Microsoft partners get caught in the crossfire?  And, perhaps most important, how will VARs fit into the overall cloud equation? VARs told that HP offers some quality software but hasn’t sold it very well. This made VARs ponder how HP’s cloud offering would be different from Microsoft’s and why it would potentially ram heads with the software giant.

5. Hewlett-Packard SMB Central courts smaller VARs with new portal, MDF
The new HP SMB Central portal is supposed to give SMB VARs new perks, such as $1,500 in market development funds per quarter to make it easier for them to gain access to notebooks, desktops, printers and servers and other products that especially suit SMB accounts.

Check out the most-read stories for February 2011.

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