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Partners say they want to see HP come to the table with guarantees on how long they will be able to sell and support the VCX product.
“Our major clients look to us for advice,” said one solution provider who has been selling VCX since it was first made available to the channel. “Manufacturers change their minds on products. I get that. But I’m not a fish at the end of a pole. You’ve got to ethically give me some kind of transition process. You’re killing it? Fine. Are you killing it, and does that mean you’re not supporting it? Are you supporting it for five years? Ten years?”
According to HP’s Hilton, it behooves partners to look at the Avaya and Microsoft offerings. But several VARs said that changing voice products from the legacy 3Com products they know well would be a long, costly and difficult process.
Not only that, it is going to take a major toll on the bottom line of those partners hit by the change. Several VCX solution providers said the product family constitutes at least half, and sometimes as high as two-thirds of their annual profits.
“It is not a trivial exercise to pick up a voice line,” said one HP 3Com partner. “You can sell a different switch or router, and it’s really not a big deal. But to figure out how to sell, install and support a voice product takes two to three years of solid study, certifications, and demo equipment. You have to know your stuff. Clients don’t like you coming up the curve on their time and their dime. Repeat: it is not a trivial exercise to switch products.”
With SMB spending starting to pick up again, VARs also fear that both they and HP will miss out on a golden opportunity. One VAR said he had closed about $400,000 in VCX business in the fourth quarter of 2010, and had pipeline activity well into the millions of dollars. Many of those opportunities are overseas, noted several VARs, where VCX products are more popular than in the United States.
“The market is ready to explode,” said the fourth solution provider. “It’s taking off again because people have put off purchases for so long. Since the beginning of September  it’s started to take off again. We’ve seen more business on this line in the last two months than we have in the last two years."
Partners say HP is making a mistake putting VCX into maintenance mode. They hope that HP's top brass will see fit to make research and development investments to significantly enhance and expand the VCX product family. "We are hoping we can get HP to rethink this and put some more money into the product," said one partner.
"I’m still hoping someone’s going to see the light over there at HP," said another longtime VCX partner. "They’re going to destroy my most profitable business. This is going to create a lot of ill will.”
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