VARs Plan 'Divide And Conquer' To Cover Next Week's HP, VMware Conferences

The 24-hour traffic jam up and down Las Vegas Boulevard may be extra slow next week as solution providers scramble to attend both Hewlett-Packard's and VMware's partner conferences, which just happened to be scheduled for the same time.

Given the large number of solution providers who count both HP and VMware as among their top vendor partners, VARs next week will be looking closely at how to schedule meetings, attend the most important presentations, and even bring in extra people in order get as much technology and channel information from both vendors.

VMware will hold pre-conference boot camps from February 11 to 13, with its VMware Partner Exchange conference slated to run from February 13 to 16. The vendor is hosting its activities at the Venetian/Palazzo hotel in Las Vegas.

HP, meanwhile, is holding its HP Global Partner Conference at the Aria Resort and Casino from February 13 to 16.

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VMware typically holds its Partner Exchange in mid-February, while HP's partner conference, formerly known as HP Americas Partner Conference, was held in late March or early April in the past.

Neither HP nor VMware would comment on how it came to pass that both companies had partner conferences during the same week despite the long-term strategic relationship they have with each other.

However, spokespeople of both vendors e-mailed statements saying that they are now working together on planning.

HP, in a statement attributed to the company's conference organizers, wrote, "It was a coincidence that we both selected the same dates for our conferences. Once we learned that we both were holding conferences on the same date, we began working collaboratively to ensure coordination. There is mutual executive engagement and mutual partner engagement from both HP and VMware. VMware is a valued partner and we are committed to contributing to two successful events."

A VMware public relations spokesperson said in an e-mail, “We’ve been collaborating with HP during planning phases to ensure our common partners have a positive experience at both events.”

Despite the fact that the two locations are separated by less than a mile-and-a-half, trying to coordinate attendance at both channel conferences at the same time means extra work for solution providers.

"If nothing else, it will be interesting to go back and forth," said Chris Case, president of Sequel Data Systems, an Austin, Texas-based solution provider and partner to HP and VMware.

Case said he plans to focus mainly on the HP side, while his company's director of services will spend most of his time at VMware.

"The bulk of our services business is based on virtualization, and not so much on hardware," he said.

When Sequel first saw that the two partner conferences would be held simultaneously, its executives were upset, Case said. "But then we thought it's good to handle it in one trip," he said. "This will help consolidate our travel. We have other events we're attending in Las Vegas this May and June, so this will mean three trips to Las Vegas, not four."

Case said he expects most solution providers will send multiple people to the conferences for each product line. "Some will cross over between the two if needed," he said. "Others will attend one partner conference exclusively, and then report to their colleagues after the event."

Next: Divide And Conquer The Main Strategy

For World Wide Technology, a Maryland Heights, Mo.-based HP and VMware partner, the planned strategy is divide and conquer, said Bob Olwig, vice president of business strategy.

WWT plans to have between 20 to 25 people attend the VMware conference to get product training and certification classes, and about seven people at the HP conference where there are fewer technical training opportunities, Olwig said. "So it's not an issue for us," he said. "It cuts down on a little airplane time. But it's not an issue."

In addition, WWT's top executives will try to attend both conferences, Olwig said. "We've got good friends with both," he said. "We gotta tip a beer with them."

Denali Advanced Integration also plans to use the divide and conquer strategy, said John Convery, executive vice president of vendor relations and marketing for the Redmond, Wash.-based solution provider and partner of both HP and VMware.

"We'll make sure we get coverage," he said. "We decide who goes where. And because it's in the same town, we can rotate."

Word from HP and VMware is that there will be some joint events and parties, as well as joint meetings with senior executives, as both understand the importance of their partnership, Convery said.

Even so, it is hard to understand how this happened, he said. "You would think somebody would have a master calendar and coordinate with strategic partners," he said. "On my wall, I have a master calendar of events so we can do all our planning, Last year in September or October, we already saw the overlap. Las Vegas is the only place big enough for events like these, so companies have to plan a year ahead."

The only real potential problem for partners is that their schedules get too tight trying to attend both conferences, Convery said. "Sometimes you can't get your 'A' team in the middle of things, so you have to send the 'B' team, or your technical people. But you need the top executives to make the decisions."