Memo to HP: Today's the Day to Engage MSPs

Memo to HP: Today's the Day to Engage MSPs

As the HP Americas Partner Conference kicks off in Las Vegas, I believe Hewlett-Packard is finally going to get serious about managed services providers in the SMB market. When HP Channel Chief Stephen DiFranco steps to the stage later today, he'll likely offer a broad, sweeping update on HP's channel partner program. But somewhere within the message, DiFranco has to address MSPs. Here's why.

No doubt, managed services are only a small portion of the overall IT channel. But MSPs are also among the fastest-growing, most profitable businesses in today's channel. Our third-annual MSPmentor 100 survey results, revealed in February 2010, showed just how quickly today's top MSPs are growing -- regardless of the economic conditions around us.

Incoming HP Channel Chief Stephen DiFranco is no stranger to the managed services discussion. During his previous career stop at Lenovo, sources say DiFranco was the key person who motivated Lenovo to get serious about managed services.

Sure, HP competes in the enterprise managed services sector. But I rarely hear HP tell its SMB partners how to offer ProCurve networking gear, storage, printers, ProLiant servers, desktops and notebooks within a managed services framework. Look at that list of product segments, and HP could be ideally positioned to profit from hardware as a service (HaaS) -- if only HP understood how to market and message to MSPs. Also, HP needs to help transform many of its traditional resellers into recurring revenue experts.

No doubt, competitive options continue to flood the market. Cisco overhauled its managed services partner program in 2009, and the networking giant plans to promote Master MSPs through a range of efforts in 2010. It's safe to expect similar MSP-centric moves from Dell, Lenovo and other hardware giants throughout this year.

Back at HP, a small but noteworthy managed services SMB push has started. HP has quietly hit the road with Level Platforms to start talking about managed services. And I suspect somewhere within DiFranco's remarks today, he'll address the need for the channel to embrace recurring revenue strategies.

But just how much will DiFranco say about managed services? And just how quickly will HP take MSP messaging to the masses? I expect to find many of the answers at this week's HP Americas Partner Conference.

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