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HP and Cisco will both draw their swords this week in dueling partner conferences in a technology battle for the hearts, minds and purchasing power of tens of thousands of solution providers worldwide.
HP has finalized its $2.7 billion acquisition of 3Com and launched its SMB networking offensive. And Cisco has launched its Unified Compute System (UCS), which is aimed squarely at HP's blade server and data center.
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Now it's time for solution providers to converge on San Francisco and Las Vegas for dueling partner conferences in the battle of channel titans and choose sides.
HP's partner conference takes place April 26 -28 in America's playground Las Vegas, while Cisco's partner conference runs April 26-29 in the tony City by the Bay -San Francisco. The two cities, like the technology strategies being staked out by the two channel giants, couldn't be more different.
Cisco is hoping to convince more partners to join them in a bid to take HP down a notch in the server and data center market. HP is hoping to convince more partners to go "All-In" with HP and take a bite out of Cisco's robust networking margins and market share.
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The channel teams and direct sales reps from both sides are looking closely at which top solution provider executives and sales reps are opting for one conference or the other.
Some solution providers are, indeed, drawing a line in the sand and choosing one city or the other. And some are sending CEO's to one conference and Vice Presidents to another in what could be called a meager attempt at channel sales diplomacy.
"I feel like Henry Kissinger shuttling from one country to another for peace talks," said one top CEO for a VAR 500 solution provider, who plans on shuttling between Las Vegas and San Francisco for both shows.
Bob Venero, the president and CEO of Future Tech Enterprise, a Holbrook, N.Y. VAR 500 power, has decided to attend the HP conference and forego the Cisco event.
"I'm not attending Cisco," said Venero. "I had to make a choice and I felt that based on our business that it was a better to attend the HP Partner Conference. We do a lot of business with HP. And we do a tremendous amount of business with Cisco too. It is going to be an interesting fight. At the end of the day, the winners are going to be the customers who get choice and the solution providers who can provide choice."
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