HP ProCurve Partners Mull Future Amidst Potential Sale

Such a move, ostensibly part of HP&s effort to pare down and refocus, could leave its cadre of loyal ProCurve partners in limbo.

New President and CEO Mark Hurd has repeatedly said he intends to focus on execution and accountability within HP&s core businesses. He is currently leading the company through a major restructuring that will see the Palo Alto, Calif.-based vendor slash 14,500 positions, or 10 percent of its workforce, and dissolve its Customer Solutions Group sales organization.

Sales of ProCurve products could lag if the networking portfolio loses the HP moniker, said Pete Busam, vice president and COO of ProCurve Elite partner Decisive Business Systems, Pennsauken, NJ.

“The HP brand brings tremendous power to ProCurve,” Busam said. “It&s a little disappointing from my perspective, but I understand what HP has to do to manage Wall Street or shareholder value,” he said.

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Other ProCurve partners said it is too early to tell what impact the sale of the ProCurve unit could have.

“It depends on who picks it up,” said Bob Patrick, owner of MXN, a solution provider in Marietta, Ga.

HP&s ProCurve business, while apparently profitable, has waged a daunting uphill fight against market leader Cisco, San Jose.

In 2004, the company was the No. 4 vendor, garnering 2.4 percent of the North American LAN switching market, up from 1.9 percent in 2003, according to Synergy Research Group. Cisco held 74.3 percent of the market in 2004.

While finding success among SMB-focused partners, HP has been unable to convert some of its largest enterprise partners to the ProCurve fold.

Mike Cox, president and CEO of Logicalis, Bloomfield Hills, Mich., HP&s largest enterprise solution provider, said any sale of HP&s ProCurve unit would have no impact on his business. “We are a Cisco shop,” he said.

Solution providers noted the vendor has held its “ProCurve Networking by HP” apart from itself via branding and logo design. “They&ve really treated it almost as if it&s a spin-off already,” Busam said.

Louise Bishop, formerly Americas marketing manager for ProCurve, left the business unit in June and moved to a new position as channel marketing manager for HP&s worldwide partner organization.

Bishop declined to comment on the potential sale of ProCurve. Other HP sources declined the opportunity to comment.