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Whoever said familiarity breeds contempt got it wrong. At least when it comes to the channel, familiarity breeds confidence.

By necessity, the channel functions on the basis of relationships. Solid relationships up and down the supply chain are fundamental ― from the vendors and their suppliers all the way to the end users, through distributors and resellers. The familiarity and trust these relationships create between individuals are essential to the smooth operation of the overall apparatus.

So it’s no wonder that partners are finding comfort in the executives HP has placed in charge of channel affairs. In interviews with The Channel Insider, partners said they are encouraged by the words and deeds of Jack Novia, who became senior vice president and managing director for the Americas region of HP’s enterprise sales unit in August, and John Thompson, who took over in January as vice president and general manager of HP’s solution partners organization.

The partners know these men and are familiar with their track records. Both men, who joined HP as a result of the Compaq merger two years ago, had worked with the channel before. And they continue to inspire confidence in partners by taking strong steps to continue to work with the channel.

“Jack Novia is the most channel friendly executive HP’s had in that post since I’ve worked with HP,” said Steve Tepedino, president of Avnet Partner Solutions, the distribution arm of Avnet Inc., Tempe, Ariz. As for Thompson, Tepedino added, “you would think he’s been in that post for years.”

Don Richie, CEO of integrator Sequel Data Systems, Austin, Texas, is just as effusive. “The channel has no better advocate than Jack Novia. He’s a known quantity. We know what he did and we know what he’s going to do going forward.”

So important is familiarity that many in the channel have started to wonder aloud if HP shouldn’t replace departed CEO Carly Fiorina with Vyomesh “VJ” Joshi, executive vice president of HP’s Imaging and Personal Systems Group. Joshi, a 25-year HP veteran, has worked closely with partners for years, earning their confidence and support.

“Feedback from resellers is very favorable towards VJ as Carly’s successor, given his superb track record and history with the company,” said Steve Raymund, chairman and chief executive of distributor Tech Data Corp. “That would be a great first step to get the company on track and rebuild confidence in the channel.”

Or course, multibillion-dollar companies don’t tend to poll their partners and customers before making top executive appointments. But partners have a vested interest in whom HP appoints to the top spot, and if it turns out to be someone they know and trust, everything will fall into place more smoothly.