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Paul Shiff, vice president at Hub Technical Services, a South Easton, Mass.-based solution provider with a heavy data center focus, has used the iPad in VDI work but says TouchPad is more aligned with the needs of his business customers.
"The TouchPad is absolutely built the right way for the enterprise," Shiff said. "HP took into account important features such as manageability and multitasking, and TouchPad is also a fit for private cloud environments."
Daniel Rodriguez, vice president of technology services at United Data Technologies (UDT), a Miami-based HP partner that focuses on the educational market, says WebOS provides a distribution layer for policy and application management that's not included in competing tablets. "Our biggest challenge is that iPad and Android tablets aren't built to be enterprise-managed," he said.
UDT is overseeing the development of a WebOS-based platform that delivers instructional technology to students using the TouchPad, and Rodriguez says student response systems and classroom control applications are especially well-suited for TouchPads. "We can capture student achievement data during the lesson plan in real time, determine if students are getting it and map their performance to state standards," he said.
Despite these early TouchPad inroads, HP faces a tough climb in getting mobile developers on board with WebOS, and so it's casting a wide net. In addition to mobile developers that build games and enterprise applications, HP is also encouraging channel partners to build WebOS development practices. Hub Technical Services and UDT are both looking at building WebOS development expertise, but they're not actually building apps today.
To grease the skids further, HP earlier this month launched a series of road shows that include face-to-face partner training on how to position the TouchPad against the competition. HP is providing health-care and education ISVs with WebOS 3.0 SDK engineering help, with a view to helping these partners port their existing applications and further boosting the size of the WebOS App Catalog.
While application development is new to many partners, DeWitt says mobility is a logical next step for VARs that are looking to branch out into new technology areas and future proof their businesses.
"If you're a VAR, you’re making decisions with your own cash about where to invest to capitalize on growth over the next several years," DeWitt said. "The value has been beaten down so low in some areas [of the channel] that you have to look for areas to create defendable turf and create value."