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Longtime channel veteran Stephen DiFranco has resigned from Lenovo and is expected to be named channel chief for Hewlett-Packard imminently, filling the vacancy left by Adrian Jones last November, according to sources in the HP partner community.

HP officials refused comment on the DiFranco hiring, but Lenovo did confirm the former vice president and general manager of consumer and commercial channels had resigned his position.

DiFranco joined Lenovo in 2008 after a long career in channels, including stints at AMD and Maxtor. He could not be reached for comment.

HP partners have been eagerly awaiting the appointment of a new channel chief, with many lamenting the length of time the search has taken. Sources said that HP had originally sought an internal candidate for the position before deciding to look outside and hire DiFranco.

For his part, Jones was highly regarded by a majority of HP partners for his personal outreach with the channel and the importance he placed on the success of their businesses in addition to HP’s. He currently runs HP’s Enterprise Storage, Servers and Networking group in Asia-Pacific and Japan. 

“Adrian Jones is a tough act to follow,” said Don Ritchie, CEO of Sequel Data Systems, an HP channel partner based in Austin, Texas. “I don’t recall ever encountering a channel manager that has had the positive impact he had. Having said that, if [DiFranco] continues down Adrian’s path then I can’t see it as anything but a positive.”

Ritchie cited Jones’ keen recognition of the various partner types and their differing needs, from box resellers to systems integrators to distributors. With the incoming DiFranco, Ritchie said he wants to see a continued emphasis on a partner program that rewards and incents partners that add value to the solutions that they sell.

“If there’s one recommendation I’d make to [DiFranco], it’s to reach out,” he said. “Do the things that worked before, pick up phone and call partners and make changes where they need to be made.”