HP Partners Prep 3Com Arsenal in War Against Cisco

By Jessica Davis

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."

Quick 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 week.

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."

This article was originally published on 2010-04-20