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Solution providers fault HP on its communication around VCX above all. With so much speculation about the death of the product, the channel has had little to no air cover for helping customers make decisions.
"This is a credibility issue. I'm not going to sell and my customer's not going to buy something if I think you're going to get out of that market in a month or two," Metropark's Conley said. "If you'd give us some stability, tell us there's a future for this, I'm out there waving the flag for you today. You're dumping what is still a thriving business for a lot of dealers."
"We have a lot of clients that still have 3Com voice in place," Infinity's Betzel said. "A lot of clients buy these things thinking they're going to be running them for eight to 10 years. I have one VCX client that's got it running at 22 sites. I have to tell my clients to get prepared for something that's going to come sooner than they're prepared for, so I need a clear message from HP on how they're going to support these platforms for people that want them."
KME's Essayian said that by pursuing a best-of-breed, multivendor approach instead of an end-to-end sale, HP is opening itself up to losing deals.
"I will sell HP servers and switches, but if a customer comes to me and says, 'We want to put this on a Dell,' and/or I can virtualize it anyway, I'll do that," he said. "HP doesn't seem to get telephony, and they have a middle management layer that doesn't seem to understand what goes into a voice network. What partner is going to stay loyal to HP on just a commodity switching sale?"
Essayian said he's happy with his local team of HP reps and makes no presumption about how to run a $127 billion company. But he agreed with other solution providers that HP is leaving behind a potential-packed VoIP opportunity with a built-in, loyal channel following.
"The point is this product has a toehold," Essayian said. "Yes, we're a minority, yes we're a little crazy, but we're also willing to sell the [crap] out of this product. If you look at it even cursorily, how much data pull is there when you sell voice? It can be a holistic sale."
"I am still a believer that voice pulls the data network along," added Betzel. "When the data network doesn't matter, and it's 'I just need a 24-port gig switch,' they're just looking around for someone who's got one with reasonable speeds and feeds at the best price. Cisco's the one that's gone after this intelligently. Video is so important to Cisco because it forces the conversation on upgrading the data equipment."
The ex-3Com dealer channel is making other plans. Solution providers told CRN they're not exactly expecting an HP reversal.
"We've all moved on," Betzel said. "I don't think you'll find anyone still betting the house on HP voice."
PUBLISHED ON JULY 11, 2012