HP is throwing more weight behind specialisation in a move top partners hope will allow them to differentiate themselves more easily.
The hardware behemoth this week informed partners of a number of minor tweaks it has made to its Preferred Partner Programme for its fiscal 2011 starting November.
Three new Specialisations for top-level Gold partners have been brought in: two around HP Networking and one around virtual desktop infrastructure.
ESS Specialisations have also been updated, with the current Specialisation around datacentre having been replaced by a more stringent one around 'converged infrastructure'.
However, HP stressed that overall the changes for 2011 are “minimal”, which it said would allow partners to focus on growth.
HP re-instated the Gold partner level in 2008 and has since faced constant criticism that the high volume of partners to qualify for the badge has degraded its value.
Tom Kelly, UK managing director at Gold partner Logicalis, supported HP’s efforts to drive greater specialisation among top partners.
“Bringing in a degree of specialisation, as HP is, brings back the value,” he said. “Those willing to invest in Specialisations through education and training will be reciprocated [through remuneration and differentiation].”
Rob Campbell, managing director of Gold partner Kavanagh, said he understood that about a third of HP's 20 datacentre specialist partners would not qualify for the new converged infrastructure Specialisation. “This is good news as suddenly we can differentiate ourselves,” he said.
Paul Barlow, managing director of VAR Servium, said: “I think the changes this year are in line with what the channel needs. HP has not re-invented the programme or created a lot of work for partners.
Partners have until 31 August to get up to speed with the new programme.
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