HP Preps New ProCurve Channel Program


The new ProCurve Partner Program, set to be unveiled this week and launched Nov. 1, replaces HP's high-end ProCurve Elite and lower-end ProCurve ProPartner programs. It adds three new partner categories and enables top-level partners to buy through distribution if they so choose.

The changes come as part of a broader update to HP's PartnerOne channel program that tweaks and refines the vendor's partner strategy.

The new ProCurve program will provide more options and focused incentives for partners selling HP's networking products, said Darla Sommerville, vice president and Americas general manager at ProCurve Networking by HP, Palo Alto, Calif.

"I don't think there are particular problems we were trying to solve with the new program. It offers better alignment beyond just the Elite level. We had additional capabilities we wanted to add between Elite and ProPartner," Sommerville said.

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The changes to the revamped channel program come from HP's own research and conversations with its partners, Sommerville said. They aim to protect partners' profitability, provide growth opportunities and offer rewards to partners based on their level of commitment, investment and sales volumes, she said.

The new program maintains the Elite designation as the top badge for its ProCurve partners but adds three new levels: Specialist, Professional and Select.

One change for Elite partners is that they now will be required to provide additional service capabilities, including "less than one-business day" repair or replacement and 24x7 post-sales support.

Another key difference for ProCurve Elite partners is that they now will be able to source ProCurve products through distribution partners such as Ingram Micro, Synnex and Tech Data, as well from HP. Previously, ProPartners bought through distribution, but Elite partners only sourced products directly from HP.

The addition of new sourcing options has been a top request from ProCurve Elite partners for some time, said Troy Cheatham, government and education markets manager at Complete Computing, a solution provider in Little Rock, Ark. "HP has done really well for us, but if they don't have something in stock, then you can't source it from someone else," Cheatham said of the current program. "This [new prograMandAmp;#93; will help us out tremendously by allowing us to use existing credit lines with these distribution partners and take advantage of the strengths of these partners, such as multiple warehouses and more flexible return policies," he added.

Cheatham said HP hasn't yet communicated full details of the new program to him but that Complete Computing plans to evaluate the new program tracks and corresponding benefits to determine which level best fits its business plan. Cheatham said his hope is that Complete Computing will be able to maintain its Elite status under the new requirements.

ProCurve is Complete Computing's go-to vendor for its state and local government contracts, and its Elite badge allows the solution provider to remain competitive against larger, national resellers, he said.

"We can compete on price but then add the level of support required to get its switches and routers installed and configured," Cheatham said.

While an Elite-level partner offers a broad array of solutions built on ProCurve technology, HP is creating the Specialist category for partners that implement ProCurve networking products as part of focused solutions in areas such as security, convergence and mobility.

Specialist partners will provide the same level of solutions-selling and service delivery as Elite partners but with a more targeted focus, Sommerville said. The new Professional track is aimed at partners with strong pre-sales and demand generation skills as well as strong product knowledge, while the new Select badge is an entry-level track that serves as a starting point for new partners, she said.

As for benefits, the program includes lead generation, joint marketing activities and financial incentives based on factors such as certification and revenue. In addition, back-end rebates are available based on product mix, Sommerville said.

HP also is providing configuration tools, access to demo equipment and its own network design engineers, pre- and post-sales support and continuing its ProCurve Service Advantage program.

HP hopes the new program will attract new ProCurve partners while enabling existing partners to grow and expand their business, Sommerville said. Nevertheless, the vendor is continuing its strategy of not over-distributing its ProCurve portfolio, she added.