Storage VARs Welcome Fiorina's Channel Overtures

And this week, Fiorina embraced the channel in very public and private ways.

On Tuesday, she surprised some solution providers by announcing new channel initiatives before a group of mostly storage end users at HP's Americas StorageWorks Conference. The efforts included new SMB storage programs and additional personnel to help solution providers with their storage sales.

But the biggest surprise came right after Fiorina's keynote, when she held a candid meeting with a group of 12 HP Storage Elite solution providers.

One of those VARs, Rich Baldwin, president and CEO of San Diego-based Nth Generation Computing, said he and his peers were very pleasantly surprised by the nature of the 45-minute meeting.

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"We were anticipating a short, structured meeting, where she would talk and then give us some time for questions," Baldwin said. "Instead, she spoke a bit, asked us what questions we had for her and really listened."

Baldwin said he was impressed by how well-prepared Fiorina was for the meeting. "She was familiar with all the topics and was concerned with our problems," he said. "She seems interested in working with Storage Elite partners to grow HP's storage business."

Even before the solution provider meeting, the fact that Fiorina mentioned channel issues during her keynote demonstrated her public commitment to partners, Baldwin said.

"There were mistakes in the past, and the pendulum swung too far from us," he said. "Now they are saying they need our help. They recognize the value of our partnerships."

Also at the meeting were Jack Novia, senior vice president and managing director of HP's Americas region, and John Thompson, vice president and general manager of the Americas for HP's Solution Partners Organization. Thompson took over the channel position just last week.

"His remarks [during the meeting] showed he is concerned and focused on our issues," Baldwin said.