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Hewlett-Packard completed its acquisition of
3Com this week, and laid
out the overarching plan
in terms of the product integration that will take
it to war against Cisco’s stronghold in the networking market.

And HP’s partners, still waiting for the final word on the integration of HP
and 3Com’s channel partner program, say that they are ready for the fight.

“It’s a giant opportunity,” John Barker, president and co-founder of Versatile
Communications, tells Channel Insider. “There’s never really been a major
competitor to Cisco like this, ever. Ever.

“From my perspective I see it as one of the giant opportunities here for next
few years,” Barker adds. “You know Mark Hurd, he’s a pretty aggressive guy. And
the delta between the market share from Cisco to HP in networking is huge. It
represents a giant opportunity.”

Facts: The HP, 3Com Deal

Barker should know. He’s been selling HP networking products since well
before most people realized that HP had any networking products, back in 1999.
Since then his Marlborough, Mass.-based company, now 26 employees, has been
butting heads against Cisco at customer sites. Now he is targeting Cisco with
HP’s new lineup of networking technologies in care of 3Com.

To get ready, Versatile Communications has achieved 3Com’s channel partner
certifications for its H3C line of enterprise and data center networking
products—and is one of only about 10 in the United States that has achieved
that. The product line has been primarily promoted and sold in China,
where 3Com has enjoyed a strong and growing presence in the networking space.
Now HP plans to bring that product line to North America.

Certifications are expected to be among the changes necessary for HP channel
partners to take full advantage of the 3Com product line, partners say. HP told
the press in a conference call this week that details of the merged partner
program, which will take the best-of-breed from both companies’ programs, will be
communicated to partners in the weeks to come. HP’s Partner Americas Conference
is scheduled for Las Vegas next

Both Barker and Denali Advanced Integration Executive Vice President John
Convery tell Channel Insider that the 3Com H3C line of technologies will help
fill gaps in the HP networking portfolio, and they’ve been waiting for them.

“Now HP has a whole core-to-edge product offering,” Convery tells Channel
Insider. “That’s what’s exciting from the product side. We can offer a much
more robust solution to our customers.”

Convery notes that Denali employs engineers hold
certifications in both HP and rival Cisco technologies, and lets customers
decide on the technology to deploy.

“The customer is going to be the winner,” he says.

Barker says that Cisco has enjoyed big margins in the past, but those days
could now be over as HP provides a value-oriented alternative for customers
shopping for networking solutions.

“The timing couldn’t be worse for Cisco,” he says. “People are trying to cut
costs and do more with less. These 3Com products are going to bring better
value to customers.”