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In a move designed to help channel partners take advantage of growing opportunities in the midmarket, HP Networking is expanding its PartnerONE and ExpertONE channel programs, as well as updating its legacy networking solutions in an effort to win market share from networking competitor Cisco.

As it moves to more closely align itself with its partners and provide up to double-margin potential, the vendor is expanding its PartnerONE program by launching a Professional Networking Specialist tier for smaller partners. HP is also rebranding its Advanced Networking Elite designation as Advanced Networking Specialist. That tier is for partners that have made a more significant commitment to certification and sales of HP’s networking solutions, and it provides greater margin opportunities for such partners.

“Today, we get 90 percent of our revenue from channel partners, and what we’re seeing is a big opportunity to grow our presence in the midmarket, so we’ve added a new level to our PartnerONE program, which is the Professional Networking Specialist level,” said Michael Banic, vice president of global marketing for HP Networking. “That complements the Advanced Networking Specialist, which is renamed from the Advanced Networking Elite, which has been in place for a while.”

The new designations were created in response to partner feedback. According to Armughan Ahmad, vice president of Americas channel strategy and alliance sales for HP Networking, the new lower level of the partner program makes it simpler for smaller solution providers to get access to sales and technical training on HP’s networking products. Aimed at partners with between $100,000 and $200,000 in annual HP networking sales per year, the program will provide access to HP networking program benefits they didn’t have access to before, he said.

For partners that fit within the Professional Networking Specialist requirements, they’ll find additional opportunities for profitability, Ahmad said. Previously, partners with under $200,000 of annual HP networking revenue could only participate in HP’s general partner programs, but the changes bring them into the networking fold.

HP is also addressing training and talent requirements with changes to ExpertONE.

“We have a lot of new opportunities for ExpertONE,” Banic said. “We have a new set of educational programs centered around our FlexNetwork architecture. We have also just released a solution training partner program where we can enable partners who have education as a focused part of their business.” The goal is to increase the number of certified individuals, he added.

HP recently launched ExpertONE certifications around cloud integration and architecture as part of its converged infrastructure certification program. It also announced HP Institute and HP Press to give IT professionals access to curriculums delivered as two- and four-semester academic programs or self-directed programs.

“The last big piece of the news we’re rolling out is the expansion of our Catalyst for Change program. We launched that a year ago, and it was primarily focused on the $9 billion of end-of-life products from Cisco Systems for customers looking for something different,” Banic said.

The trade-in program, which offers up to 20 percent savings off the list price of HP switches when trading in competing products, will continue through 2012.