Hewlett-Packard (HP) is increasing its direct business as it continues to rejig its channel strategy.
The core of managed partners, which are drawing up business plans with the vendor this year, can expect some immunity from direct competition. But more of its low-end business could go direct in plans expected to be announced this week.
Some direct pressure will be taken off mid-market resellers as a change in HP's definition of mid-market customers will see its direct-managed hit list reduced to just 300 customers.
This move will see HP effectively handing 200 large accounts over to favoured partners.
Mark Porter, HP's mid-market business director, stressed that HP's evolving channel strategy will reward committed resellers.
"Today in the SME space we are looking at growth partners: those that have invested in the Business Partner model and those that show the best return on the investment we make with them," he said.
Peter Critchley, business development manager at reseller Morse, said: "HP plans to be more organised in the way the channel works with these accounts... but it's early days."
Paul Barlow, managing director of reseller Equanet, said: "We'd prefer it if HP didn't sell direct, but in general we don?t have many issues with HP. When there are issues they get resolved."
But it is believed the vendor is finalising another hit list of 400 customers, to which it plans to sell lower-margin items such as PCs, printers and possibly low-end servers directly.
HP also sent a letter to SME resellers last week, asking them to become 'agents', passing low-volume business through its HP Store web site in exchange for a five per cent fee.
Resellers contacted by CRN were doubtful the vendor has thought through the plans clearly. They were all left without the guarantees they sought that HP's web proposals would not drive a wedge between them and their customers.
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