New HP Canada channel chief reveals first priority

In terms of a channel leadership position, none can match the cache of HP Canada’s (Nasdaq: HPQ) Solution Provider Organization. Former Sun Canada channel boss John Cammalleri now runs this business and let CDN in on what will be his first priority in this Q&A.

In a homecoming of sorts (Cammalleri spent nine years at Compaq/HP before leaving), Cammalleri talks about a difficult 2009 campaign at Sun Canada and how this new opportunity is inspiring him.

Also Charles Salameh, vice president & general manager, personal systems group, for HP Canada explains why Cammalleri is the right fit for the SPO.

The following is an edited transcript from an interview with both Cammalleri and Salameh.

CDN Now: Why is John Cammalleri your choice for channel chief of HP Canada? What qualities and capabilities does he bring to the job and the partner community that will enhance the SPO in the market place?

Charles Salameh: There are many. John is a personable guy and he has a solid understanding of what it takes to build and maintain partner relationships. He is even keeled. With his 20 years of experience in the industry, he has gone through many up and downs. John understands the economics of the channel and the many dynamics of how the channel can move. The channel is a major part of this organization and it needs someone who can finesse the channel partners to make their goals align with ours. And, he has this business acumen. There’s also a strong motivation and work here. This is an exciting time and John has been here before. He left to join Sun and so he has gained multiple company experience. Now he is joining a company that he knows and he wants to comeback to. He’s motivated. This is an intangible part but it is a large part of my decision to hire him along with the balance of experience. This made the decision simpler compared with other candidates.

CDN Now: John, you probably had one of the more challenging years of your career last year because of the uncertainty with Sun and Oracle. Does this new opportunity with HP renew your spirits?

John Cammalleri: Yes and I think of two things: the channel is fundamental to HP’s business and it is a critical element for its business. No. 2 it is probably the largest channel in Canada. This mature organization has excellent people and partners. HP is well established on the commercial side with a lot of established partners that deliver material value to the customer. I am humbled and honoured to lead this organization for HP. And, I’m extremely excited to be here and I feel lucky to come across this opportunity, which only comes once in a career. I see myself as lucky to be leading this organization.

CDN Now: John what’s going to be your first priority going forward as channel chief?

J.C.: The first thing is obvious, but I have to familiarize myself of where we are in terms of market share and the key challenges to the business. A few things I would like to mention is first that I am extremely open to partners and I wanted them to be more visible. I need to get a fresh understanding on their lens on the state of the businesses. I think we need to make sure we understand their viewpoints. Sometimes, as manufacturers, we become insolated and that can’t happen in the partner organization. I understand that challenge and I will be open with them and similar to what Stephen DeFranco (new HP worldwide channel chief) said we need clear communications with direct input to the strategy to drive HP forward. HP is a large company with multiple lines of business and in some cases we have the same objectives and others it is different and I need to work to remove the complexity in the business. It will be critical to co-ordinate communications and it will be an important part of this job. The other piece is to drive the business and focus on areas such as healthcare, education, SMB, and retails solutions. I want to enable the partners be successful in these market I just identified.

CDN Now: On the government side, new IT procurement is expected do you have any thoughts or plans for this area with your partners?

C.S.: We clearly are heavily bent on procurement business and we have been successful in this area and we will continue to focus on public and private mix. I see us responding to the changing need of government and I do see more activity with Shared Services for consolidated infrastructure. This will have an effect and we are talking with partners on new strategies for a combined effort with the channel. John will be addressing this as the channel catches up to consolidated infrastructure and brings the power and assets of HP that will address this whole market. It is going to pale in comparison with other historical trends of how we sold to government in passed years.If you look at it; the signals are there. We want to be in the forefront and it is a major objective of the channel chief to capture this and address this big market dynamic in government.

CDN Now: Charles was one of the main reasons for hiring John his background and experience with Sun and Sun partners? IBM has gone on record saying they are going after the Sun business. Cisco has done the same. Does having John in this role give HP a leg up on winning over Sun partners and customers in your view?

C.S.: No! Having a team with experience in other companies will beat any one person. John can’t do it all on his own. Our ESS server folks are nervous about Sun as they would be for IBM and Cisco. They compete with the best team on the field and we leverage all those assets and skills in the market place to win. We did not hire to address the competition with Sun. It’s the right person for the right needs. And, John fulfilled all those needs, both tangible and intangible. Even when I was hired I did not sense that we hire on a particular attack of a competitor. The SPO role crosses all the units and John will be dealing with Acer on the low end and IBM on the high end. Hiring someone from Sun gives us some intelligence, but it’s not a factor at the end of the day.

CDN Now: The 3Com deal closed officially. What can you tell us from a channel perspective on new offerings or initiatives?

C.S.: I’m not privy to new offerings and HP will integrate 3Com switches and routers with ProCurve for a more comprehensive offering. That will be clearly a benefit for networking and security and it’s what we’ve seen with all this noise coming from Cisco. I think the big message is around the convergence and HP is going after it with a vengeance in government, the banks and with multinationals. Convergence infrastructure is the demarcation of LANs and WANs and the advent of the cloud. With HP’s global reach, 3Com solidifies this strategy. You name it we have it. We have all the assets and the partners. The first thing you will see is some bundles and programs to drive those assets.

CDN Now: John, from the people I have spoken to about you, they say they are thrilled you have this job and that you are one of the nicest people in the industry. Do you think you can still maintain your nice guy image when it comes to Cisco in battling this war?

J.C.: If you could see me; I’m blushing. I’ve been in the channel for a long time and you go through stages such as the Dell stage where direct selling was the flavour of the week and then it was managed services. Potential conflicts happen and I been through those stages and I would maintain a favourable reputation in the industry by not just being a nice guy, but by being open. You have to deliver the tough message. Being nice and not delivering or being aggressive you can make a mistake. You have to understand that partners are unique and they do battle with you everyday. Everyday you have to help them validate their value proposition to the customer. It’s a tough business they are in and you can’t be nice and try not to deliver the tough messages. You have to be competitive and I am ready for that and I never shy away from the tough messages.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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Paolo Del Nibletto
Paolo Del Nibletto
Former editor of Computer Dealer News, covering Canada's IT channel community.

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