HP ProCurve Looks To Lure Cisco VARs With Accelerated Program

HP ProCurve has been quietly offering a new program through which Cisco-certified solution providers can be fast-tracked for ProCurve certification if they meet certain criteria.

The program, called HP ProCurve's Accelerated training program, offers Cisco-certified VARs the opportunity to save on expensive ProCurve accreditation if they already have certain Cisco certifications, the idea being to show VARs how they can translate Cisco networking expertise into ProCurve competencies.

There are two tracks, according to a promotion on ProCurve's Website, that will help partners "double your knowledge without shrinking your wallet" and "learn about HP ProCurve and interoperability with other networking vendors."

For Cisco partners holding CCNP, CCDP, CCSP, CCIP, CCVP or CNNP Wireless certifications, ProCurve is offering to "accelerate" training to become certified as a ProCurve ASE (Accredited System Engineer) for HP ProCurve Campus LANs.

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For Cisco partners holding CCIE Routing & Switching, CCDE, CCIE Security, CCIE Service Provider, CCIE Storage Networking, CCIE Voice or CCIE Wireless, ProCurve is offering "accelerated" training to become certified as Master ASE.

All that's required is for partners to spend four hours taking Web-based ProCurve training, and pass a web-based exam.

HP claims that the Accelerated program will save partners as much as $12,000 over what they'd pay for ProCurve training if they didn't come in with the stated Cisco certifications.

According to an HP spokesperson, the program was launched in October 2009.

"We have had many engineers within Cisco partners take the course and exam," the spokesperson said in a response to Channelweb.com. "From a partner recruitment standpoint, we have an active program working with them to recruit. We have received good feedback to having this certification available to help them reach the certification requirements for HP at a rapid pace."

HP declined to say how many Cisco-certified partners it had trained in the Accelerate program but said it was seeing new partners continue to take advantage.

"HP understands that you have invested your valuable time into building your networking knowledge and expertise," reads promotional copy on the ProCurve Website. "Taking that into consideration, we have an accelerated certification path available to engineers who have achieved one of the below Cisco credentials."

Next: HP Aims To Win Market Share

One Cisco-certified solution provider who requested anonymity said he was aware of the program and was "giving it some thought," though he had not yet contacted anyone at ProCurve or been personally recruited.

"I wouldn't make that big a deal of it, because the big guys do this competitive [stuff] all the time, and sometimes they talk about it and sometimes they don't," said the solution provider. "At the same time, for a reseller, it's a way to make sure your bases are covered and not have to pay through the nose necessarily. I mean, why not, right?"

The program comes at a critical time for HP as it attempts to win mind and market share in the channel for ProCurve, especially now that the gulf between former friends HP and Cisco has widened into a chasm.

Cisco last week announced it would not be renewing HP's system integrator contract when it ends on April 30 -- the latest shot fired by Cisco in an increasingly contentious battle between the two tech titans.

"Over the last few years our relationship with HP has evolved from a partner to companies with different and conflicting visions of how to deliver value to customers," said Keith Goodwin, Cisco senior vice president of worldwide channels, in a video post to the Cisco Channels blog.

ProCurve's program is in line with recent moves by HP ProCurve to portray itself as an open architecture networking alternative to Cisco. At Interop in November, HP announced a new set of vendor partners for its Open Network Ecosystem (ONE) program.

HP also played up the open vs. proprietary message in its response to Cisco last week, calling Cisco's choice to not renew HP's reseller contract a proprietary move "not in the customer's best interest."