I recently had the opportunity to attend the HP Storage conference in Las Vegas. This is “too many to count” years in a row that I’ve participated and I’ve been able to see the evolution of the conference and important information that is flowing through to the channel.
When I first started attending, Canadian representation was negligible and much of that was from out of town (non- GTA) resellers, who didn’t have exposure to HP managers on any kind of consistent level. And don’t ask about specific Canadian content, because most of the conference involved the piggy-back of U.S. ideas. There might be dinner or lunch for the Canadian contingent (as we called ourselves). I always had to keep in mind this was through the CPQ/HWP merger, so most of the managers were still finding their way.
As an evolution of an event, this year, the storage conference was piggybacked at the back end of the Americas Partner Conference for resellers. Canadian representation has increased to an impressive 200 strong. Interestingly, many of the participants are now end-user customers invited by their reseller partners that are jointly working on enterprise servers, storage and service solutions. This gives all the involved parties the ability and luxury (meetings in Las Vegas are a luxury) to meet and speak to the right managers and engineers from HP to help resolve potential problems.
With over 25 technical conferences spread out over the Mirage conference center, it reminded me of college as we all moved in groups through the hallways taking notes and rushing to the next seminar before it filled up. Absolutely, many of the seminars were SRO, which is a credit to the both the quality of the presentations and diligence of the attendees in gathering information to apply at home.
Of course the meetings are a business version of “speed dating,” typically with a series of managers handling a room for sales and short technical presentations with both resellers and end-users as they discuss the important points for each other. The subconscious pressure to get something said and done in a short time is overwhelming to the point you can almost feel the tap on the shoulder followed by “next”. That isn’t anyone’s fault; it is just the numbers of people and meetings that everyone is trying to fit into three days. Fortunately you still have drinks and dinner to refine some finer points of your business.
As one HP storage manager confidentially commented, “if a reseller partner isn’t here, then they probably aren’t really in the enterprise business with HP”.
As several HP end-user customers I personally know commented, “this is the place to be if you are looking at getting involved with HP enterprise technologies, or extending infrastructure you already have in place”.
As I was fond of saying, “only resellers will fly 3,000 miles to have drinks with someone we can chat with anytime, and still have a good time”.
HP even managed to entirely miss the problem with notebook batteries that plagued several of their competitors. Interestingly, of all the major PC companies in the marketplace, HP has managed to grow their business both top and bottom line with Canada being a real contributor into real profitability in the last 12 months and that is reflected in an increase in stock price of almost 22 per cent, a very impressive ROI.
Even with the recent news about HP board room fiascos, they acted quickly and decisively to clean things up as efficiently as possible and get back to “running a business”.
It looks like HP is “doing it” the right way.
Frank Abate is a long time reseller in Canada. He founded Infinity Technologies, which was acquired by On The Go Technologies in 2005.