Hewlett Packard has received a cautious reception from the channel following its announcement that it wants resellers to play a vital role in helping it to deliver services to SMEs.
According to Francesco Serafini, general manager of HP services EMEA, resellers in the firm's PartnerOne programme will be instrumental in delivering IT services such as storage, servers and mobile computing.
"[PartnerOne] is a strategic concept for HP's business, and especially for the SME market. We want to be sure we work with resellers to deliver best value for our customers," said Serafini.
HP Services is working with its European resellers to offer more training in deployment of infrastructure, services and support, he added.
"In return we ask VARs to provide value-added consultancy to customers," he said.
In addition to the SME market, HP will focus most of its business on four key market areas this year: government, financial services, manufacturing and telecommunications.
Serafini said a key focus will be selling more virtualisation systems, which provide on-demand usage of key services such as storage, server space and messaging systems. This means firms can scale their IT systems in line with business demand.
Simon Gay, practice leader at Computacenter, said there is a risk that HP Services' direct sales teams could erode the channel's share of the value-added services market. However, Gay said the opportunities outweigh the costs.
"It's risky, but IT solutions rarely fall into one vendor's domain - and this is where resellers come into play," he said.
"Companies will look for independence and best of breed, rather than a single vendor."
Greg Carlow, managing director of VAR Repton, said the relationship between resellers and vendors has always been tricky.
"We have clear areas where we're doing something different, but there are other areas where we stamp on each other's toes and muddle things up for each other," he said. "The problem comes when you try to draw lines where HP stops and the reseller starts.
"If there's a real tiny firm we're working with then HP won't be interested; likewise, HP will be very keen on big firms. But the problem is in the middle, knowing what size HP will go for.
"Resellers need to stitch together a solution because sometimes there are holes in a vendor's offering. It's our job to pull it together and make it work."
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