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HP Partners: Palm Deal Spells Big End-To-End Opportunity

HP partners say the computer giant's acquisition of Palm opens the door for them to provide a complete end-to-end HP solution, from the smartphone to the data center.

Solution providers attending the HP Americas Partner conference this week said the $123 billion computer giant's $1.2 billion acquisition of Palm represents another big opportunity for HP and them in what has become one of the most explosive markets.

Partners said the deal is significant because it will allow them to provide a complete HP solution from the smartphone to the data center. HP is already going after Cisco in the networking market, IBM in the services market, and now is targeting Apple in the smartphone market, said HP partners. "They are going to take over the world," said Dean Cappellazzo, CEO of Bedrock Technology Partners, a fast growing HP partner headquartered in San Mateo, Calif.

"It's a huge opportunity to break into the phone market business," said Cappellazzo. "It's going to be interesting to see how they use it in both the business and home (markets)."

The key for solution providers may rest on HP's ability to bring business applications to the market for the Palm phones. "The apps that Apple has for the iPhone are for the individual," said Cappellazzo. "The key for HP is to take these Palm phones and use them for business and build apps around them. The bottom line is to make it as easy as possible for the client to make purchases."

Majdi "Mike" Daher, the founder of Denali Advanced Integration, a Redmond, Wash. HP partner, called the Palm deal a great acquisition that will provide more opportunities for all HP solution providers.

"This acquisition is all about going mobile and getting all devices connected," he said. "This completes the story. The acquisitions HP has been making are smart. It's fantastic for the partner community. They are completing the portfolio with great technology and enabling us to sell it in the field. Smartphones are where the world is going. This is a great platform for HP to go out and grow its market presence."

Daher said one of the reasons he sells HP is because of its broad and deep product portfolio. "We believe HP is positioned better than any other company out there because they have the scale, reach, sales force and technology," he said. "A deal like this enables us as partners to win with HP."

Dave Martel, vice president of Northeast sales for CAS Severn, a Manchester, N.H. HP partner, said the acquisition is another sign of HP's determination to provide a complete end-to-end IT solution. "We are doing a lot with EDI and thin clients so it marries the end point for us with HP," he said. "This gives HP an end point mobile device to complete the solution."

Next: Palm And Selling The Full HP Portfolio

"The acquisition snaps into what (HP CEO Mark) Hurd talked about at the conference: sell the whole portfolio, everything on the truck," said Martel. "And the truck just got bigger. The play for HP is to cover the market end to end."

Martel said he sees the Palm products as another opportunity to knock on customer doors with a new HP offering. "I'm a salesman and for me this is one more thing to talk about," he said. "HP has more stuff, more buying power and this is another opportunity for them to leverage the supply chain."

Martel said his company is more energized to go sell more HP products after attending the conference. Often he said he leaves partner conferences more confused. Not this time. "This is one of the best conferences I have been to in the last five years," he said. "HP has the best (channel) program in the business right now. Hurd has got the herd going in the right direction."

Newt Newman, president of Solid IT Networks, a Houston, Texas HP partner specializing in the education market, said he sees the Palm product as a winner in education market if HP can bring the right applications to the table. "This gives us something new to go into our current accounts and new accounts with," he said.

Newman said the deal is part of HP's bid to be a one stop shop for IT buyers. "Customers enjoy a one stop shop," he said. "If you are able to go in and provide everything soup to nuts in the account it makes it easier for the customers. They don't want to have multiple relationships."

Peter Larocque, president of U.S. distribution for Synnex, one of HP's top distribution partners headquartered in Greenville, S.C., said the deal represents a major new opportunity for partners. "For us it is hard to think of how we can get into that hand-held business," he said. "This puts that in play. But we have to see what they are going to do with it."

Larocque said anytime HP makes another acquisition and adds to its product portfolio it helps partners. "I'm excited when they give me more things to sell," he said. "It is completely accretive to us. HP is soup to nuts: calculators to Superdome servers. This will be an opportunity for us. We sell notebooks and mobile devices to a lot of solution providers. Why not sell the smartphone too?"

Next: The Partner Opportunity

Tiffani Bova, vice president of research for indirect channel programs and sales strategies worldwide for Gartner, a Stamford, Conn. market research firm, said the HP deal "validates the fact that end users are accessing information from hand-held devices is becoming more important."

"Having the right technology especially when you start looking at convergence across the entire stack is going to be more and more important as time goes on," she said.

Bova said the end to end converged solutions that are reshaping IT demand that solution providers "think outside" the box. "If you are very comfortable at the desktop, networking, server or storage you need to think about it across the entire stack," she warned.

Up until now, Bova said many partners have not been playing in the smartphone market. "They have been much more involved in the data center and the desktop," she said. "They have not made it all the way to the mobile devices."

But she cautioned that partners must remember that technology "starts all the way from the hand held back to the data center," she said. Ultimately, partners are going to have to decide whether they want to invest in providing the smartphone piece to the total solution or partner with another solution provider, she said.

HP's top executives at the conference emphasized the benefits of selling the complete end-to-end HP IT product portfolio. And the company's printer executives emphasized that HP is aggressively moving to make it easier to print from smartphones. "Now having the (Palm) technology and the IP (Intellectual property) in our hands, we are perfectly set up to deliver on that," said Herbert Koeck, HP vice president and general manager for LaserJet and Enterprise Solutions Americas. "This is a big opportunity for every reseller partner."

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