User Group Opts Out Of HP-Led Conference In 2005

"We're disappointed that they felt it necessary to combine some of their events into an event driven by HP, no question about it," says Ron Evans, executive director of Interex, an HP user group with 100,000 members that plans to go it alone next year with HP World 2005 in San Francisco.

In the last month, HP has released details of its planned HP Technology Forum 2005, scheduled for New Orleans next September, which it says will unite the major user groups, customers, and partners at a single show, instead of the multiple shows that the company has participated in during prior years.

"All the groups have been invited to join us," says David Parsons, HP's VP of Americas enterprise marketing. "This isn't intended to take anything away [from the user groups]--but the reality is people can't afford to go to two or three different shows."

Of the other three HP user groups, Encompass already has said it plans to take part in the new HP event. The OpenView Forum software users group and ITUG user group of NonStop users haven't disclosed their plans.

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"Most of our users have multiple HP solutions running in their IT environments," Parsons says. "By having the various HP user events under one roof, we can provide training direct from HP that goes beyond any single technology area to reflect the real-world data centers of our customers."

If Interex had chosen to join in the HP Technology Forum next year, it would have had contributive control over about 15% of the content, Evans says. At this year's HP World, Interex divided control with Encompass, and next year will have total control of the content, although an invitation remains for Encompass' participation in 2005, he says.

"Our members, when surveyed, said they want us independent," Evans says. "They want us to control the content."

HP has pledged to continue to make executives available to HP World for keynotes, to participate in workshops, and has upgraded its show sponsorship.

"We have a 30-year history of putting these events on, and since 1996 it has been branded HP World," Evans says. "If anything, we got a little off base from what it originally was and became a little overwhelmed. Now we're back to our roots and feel comfortable."

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