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Partners have expressed surprise at Hewlett-Packard’s willingness to discuss
the issue of exclusivity among its VARs. 

Adrian 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

Jones asked Tom LaRocca, director of partner development and programs at HP,
to talk about the "exclusivity issue" and to assuage partner fears
that HP wants all of its partners to only sell, service and support HP
products. LaRocca told the audience that the strategy is not to ask
partners to be exclusive but to recognize that partners who make significant
investments with HP should receive significant rewards and returns on that

"As you add HP products to every sale, we want to reward you.  As
you increase your commitment with us, we are going to increase our reward to
you," LaRocca said, causing a few heads to turn.

Click here to read about HP
CEO Mark Hurd’s keynote address at the conference.

"When Tom LaRocca said that HP wasn’t pushing partners to become exclusive,
I couldn’t believe it," said Brady Flaherty, president of Altos Technology
Group, an HP exclusive partner.  Flaherty said that regardless of HP’s
open-minded claims, he feels that if he decides to add EMC
products to his company’s portfolio, for example, he’d certainly get the cold
shoulder from HP. 

Flaherty said, though, that he feels being an HP exclusive partner has helped
him win deals, since his customers know that he and his engineers are experts
on HP’s products and services.  Customers can trust that dealing with one
vendor is the right choice, rather than having to choose among many vendors
with similar offerings.

"It’s hard for a customer to make a buying decision when you go in
with, ‘This is a good product and a great vendor … and so is this and this and
this,’" he said. Standing behind one vendor’s products makes his
sales team’s efforts that much more effective.

Bobby Thomas, area sales manager for Logicalis, an HP partner based in Georgia,
said for his company, there isn’t necessarily a benefit to being an exclusive
partner, since there aren’t additional rebates, higher margins or better vendor
support.  He did say, however, that while he sells multiple vendors’
products, he makes sure product lines do not overlap one another to avoid
losing face in front of his customers.

"HP and IBM are two different
product areas we offer.  We have to separate them because we can’t have
credibility suggesting something to customers if we’re spread too thin with
product knowledge," he said.  

Click here to read how Mark
Hurd is hitting the channel street.

Both Thomas and Flaherty said, despite the repetitious nature of Jones’
speech to last year’s conference, both are pleased with how their HP business is
doing.  Aside from a few hiccups around direct sales and channel conflict,
and HP’s need to better gather, listen to and act on partner feedback, both
Thomas and Flaherty said that HP simply needs to make minor adjustments to a
successful program that is very healthy for its partners.  

Flaherty said partners are ultimately responsible for their own success, and
while HP as a vendor isn’t perfect, the blame shouldn’t fall on HP if channel
partners don’t succeed.   

"I don’t know what partners really expect from a big vendor. 
Partners have to go out and make themselves successful—that’s their job. HP
certainly isn’t putting anyone out of business," Flaherty said.