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VARs should focus on selling storage offerings in the coming year,
especially for customers in the SMB and midmarket space—this according to Hewlett-Packard’s
channel chief, Adrian Jones.

Jones, HP’s vice president and general manager of the Americas Solution
Partner Organization, addressed HP channel partners on the second day of the
vendor’s annual partner conference, held Feb. 25-28 in Las
Vegas. In his address, he emphasized that HP will
bring simplicity, predictability and consistency to the PartnerOne channel
program to make engagement with HP easier for partners. 

Jones said HP’s hiring of more than 2,000 additional salespeople in 2007,
announced in its recent financials, will put "more feet on the street"
to help push sales growth across all market segments, including the enterprise,
midmarket and SMB sectors.  The additional sales personnel will help, not
hinder, channel sales efforts with their customers, he said, stressing the continued
importance of the channel to HP’s strategy. 

"You guys add more value than we can with end-user customers,"
Jones said. He asked the audience of channel partners for their help in
continuing to bring integration and implementation services to customers.

Storage was a major focus of Jones’ keynote, and he said HP will be
"relentless" in pushing partners to grow the storage side of HP’s
business. Increasing partner incentives for storage products and services helped
HP increase its storage business by 38 percent in 2007, he said, but the
company and its partners still have work to do to lead in the product area
against competitors such as Dell, IBM and

Click here to read more
about HP’s SMB storage strategy.

"We plan to continue building out the [storage] product portfolio to
strengthen our offerings. We need your help and your patience on some of
the things we’re doing there because we’re not done yet, and we have a lot of
work to do," Jones said, adding that partners can expect more storage
product announcements in the coming months.

Over the past 12 months, Jones said, HP has announced, designed and released
a number of storage and data center products for a broad base of customers,
especially in the SMB and midmarket areas.  He cited the
"Shorty" c3000 blade server for SMBs; the SMB StorageWorks MSA2000
SAN, released Feb. 8; and the EVA4400
virtualized storage array, announced last week for cash-strapped midmarket and
SMB customers.

Jones also echoed HP CEO Mark Hurd’s
sentiments that HP needs to focus on making its channel programs simpler, more
predictable and consistent.  Jones said HP is solid in product and
personnel basics, and while the vendor is working on better aligning itself
with partners, it has been very successful identifying, strategizing and
executing on market trends through its channel partners.

 Click here to read more about
Mark Hurd’s keynote address.

"The channel is ingrained in our culture today, and we’re always
looking at how we can get better and work harder for you," Jones
said.  He reiterated Hurd’s insistence that HP executives will be making
many more face-to-face calls on channel partners to better understand and fulfill
their needs. 

"We’re going to get more of the executives out there to work with you
in the coming year; that is my promise.  Sometimes we do make things a bit
complex, but our guiding principles going forward are simplicity,
predictability and consistency," Jones said.