HP Snares Senior IBM Channel Executive

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Turnabout is fair play.

Just weeks after losing a top channel marketing manger to IBM, Hewlett-Packard has returned the favor by snaring a senior IBM channel executive. Kevin Hooper, IBM's vice president of worldwide business partner strategy is leaving the company to join rival HP as general manger for Americas commercial SMB, according to sources.

Sources inside HP said that Hooper will work with HP's Technology Solutions Group Americas, the direct sales side of the company headed in the U.S. by Jack Novia, but will have close contacts with solution providers partnering with TSG. Sources said Hooper will report to Randy Runk, senior vice president of U.S. sales for TSG.

HP is expected to announce Hooper's appointment on Monday, sources said.

The move comes just weeks after Louise Bishop, then HP's channel marketing manager for its worldwide partner organization, jumped ship to join IBM's global business partner organization.

IBM channel veteran Hooper previously served as worldwide director of channel marketing for IBM Global Services and held a channel SMB role within the vendor's software group.

Hooper did not return phone calls seeking comment early Friday morning. IBM and HP executives could not be reached for comment.

The executive shuffle between the two technology behemoths underscores the intense battle for the solution provider driven SMB market place. HP, IBM and Dell increasingly see growth in their direct enterprise business slowing in comparison to the opportunity in SMB. Dell has backed away from its direct posture and is publicly courting the channel for the first time. And IBM and HP have both made SMB a top priority for 2008.

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