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HP Bets On Gilroy

Hewlett-Packard last week named Kevin Gilroy vice president and general manager of the new Solution Partners Organization (SPO) for the Americas, ending months of suspense.

The new channel unit, which will debut May 1, combines HP's enterprise and commercial channels into a single organization worldwide. Gilroy will be responsible for all of HP's Americas solution providers and all HP products sold through the channel, with the exception of consumer offerings. He previously split that responsibility with Dan Vertrees, HP's vice president and general manager of enterprise partners for the Americas.


QUESTION: What does the move to have the HP Services channel team report into the larger channels organization mean?

ANSWER: It's an on-ramp into [HP Services Executive Vice President] Ann Livermore's organization. In the past, if a partner wanted to work with HP Services, they would contact a separate channel organization. Now there's one partner business manager, one management team, responsible for the overall hardware and services sales through the channel. So [the partners] have a much cleaner on-ramp, faster cycle time. This is something, by the way, that partners asked for, and it's something we've delivered on.

Vertrees could not be reached for comment, but sources close to HP said he is evaluating new assignments within the company.

HP declined to comment on Vertrees' new role but said he will continue in his current role until May 1.

HP also named Jim McDonnell, who has been senior vice president of marketing for the Personal Systems Group (PSG), to the new post of vice president and general manager of the SPO worldwide, reporting to Duane Zitzner, executive vice president of the PSG. Gilroy will report to both McDonnell and Mike Larson, senior vice president and general manager of PSG Americas.

Zitzner said the move toward a single channel organization was a "natural evolution" ever since HP and Compaq began combining their channel organizations two years ago.


QUESTION: What were the overriding reasons that you needed to blend the two partner organizations together, and now that you have done so, how will you measure its success?

ANSWER: What we're trying to do is get one face to our indirect partners, and that was the thought behind it, that we could get one person accountable for it. It doesn't come to [HP Chairman and CEO Carly Fiorina], it comes to someone underneath that to have to deal with that, and that person is me. The other part of your question was what we hope to gain by doing this. Certainly, commonality in how we do things. Consistency in how we're executing. And that's the biggest thing, I think, that we're going to get out of it.

Gilroy said he will "be empathetic to the different business models and to the needs of the partners. I absolutely do not believe that one size fits all."

Gary Melillo, vice president of business development at Melillo Consulting, an HP enterprise partner in Somerset, N.J., said, "I have a lot of confidence in Kevin. But HP needs to focus on the value side of the business. IBM has been having a good time growing its value channel at HP's expense."

Some solution providers said Gilroy faces other problems. "His biggest challenge will be keeping a pulse on how his direct channel interacts with his indirect one," said Bruce Geier, president and CEO of Technology Integration Group, an HP commercial partner in San Diego. "HP direct is very aggressive."

As part of the new channel organization, Gilroy said that HP Channel Services will now report into SPO. Channel Services was previously part of the HP Services organization.

As part of its channel services push, Palo Alto, Calif.-based HP will introduce this week at its Americas Partner Conference in Los Angeles four new HP Smart Support offerings for the SMB market. The offerings, part of HP's Smart Office SMB initiative, include HP Proactive Plus for SMB, a collection of Microsoft support services; HP Learning Curve, a collection of online training services; HP IT Professional Help Desk Services for SMB; and HP Proliant System Minder Solution for SMB, a server administration package. HP solution providers can sell the packaged services provided by HP or deliver the services under the HP banner using their own technical staff, Gilroy said.

HP also plans to roll out four new Smart Solutions for the SMB market: file-and-print, communications, document management and business-continuity solutions. The file-and-print and communications solutions will be offered in partnership with Microsoft, while a data management solution will incorporate HP's new Officejet 9100 all-in-one system with digital document storage capabilities, said Nigel Ball, HP's vice president of SMB servers, storage and software.

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