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Partners Mull Post-Capellas HP

Solution providers hope the departure of Hewlett-Packard president Michael Capellas will lead to better channel relations with the vendor.

The former Compaq Computer chairman and CEO assumed the No. 2 spot at HP after the merger. But solution providers said HP's revamped channel strategy is reminiscent of Capellas' strategy at Compaq in its attempt to transfer the volume and speed concerns that drive the PC business into new models for HP's more value-oriented enterprise business. What's more, solution providers said Capellas championed direct sales over indirect sales,a philosophical bent that has tainted HP's current channel relations.

At press time, Capellas was considered a leading candidate for the top spot at WorldCom.

"When Capellas made presentations to Wall Street analysts and pushed the direct model of the new HP, as a solution provider that bothered me," said John Sheaffer, president of Sysix Technologies, Westmont, Ill. "Carly Fiorina, on the other hand, is trying to strike a balance between going direct on the PC side and, on the high end, maintaining HP's [channel engagement strategy"

Grady Crunk, executive vice president at Central Data, Titusville, Fla., said Capellas' departure is a boon for solution providers. "It is probably an advantage [to the channel that he has left. What is killing HP is no one knows who is doing what and where it is headed."

Todd Barrett, networking sales manager at CPU Sales and Service, Waltham, Mass., said Capellas did not have a strong grip on the channel. "The signals that I have seen so far are that HP is already encamped in the direct model," he said. "At least now we know the buck stops with [Fiorina. At least now we know who is making the calls."

CHRISTINA TORODE contributed to this story.

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