Liveblog: HP Americas Partner Conference Day One

Leo and DiFrancoLAS VEGAS — HP kicks off its Americas Partner Conference 2011 event in Las Vegas Monday afternoon with a show-opening session that will include Americas channel chief Stephen DiFranco, and the first opportunity for the company’s partners to hear from new CEO Leo Apotheker.

It’s been a year of changes for HP, starting with the purchase of Palm (which happened at the same time as last year’s APC) and continuing with Apotheker’s arrival, the 3Par bidding war and ending up with the company presenting its evolving cloud strategy just weeks ago.

Can’t make it to Vegas for APC? will be liveblogging both executives presentations as they happen right here. The liveblog should go live shortly after 3:00 pm Pacific on Monday.

  HP APC 2011 Day One (03/28/2011) 
Good afternoon! Last few people are filing into their seats for the APC kickoff keynote with Leo Apotheker and Stephen DiFranco.
Monday March 28, 2011 3:04 
The opening video and presentation from HP is quite heavy on webOS. Execs are all talking about the platform as well… hard to believe it was during last year’s APC that the merger was first announced.
Monday March 28, 2011 3:11 
And up comes channel chief and event host Stephen DiFranco to get things going.
Monday March 28, 2011 3:12 
DiFranco: The channel is the community of how we go to market, the community of how we’re successful.
Monday March 28, 2011 3:13 
Three big themes from DiFranco this year:

1) One HP – co-rodinating its efforts across the board.

2) The portfolio – “When I stood here a year ago, we did not own 3Par, we did not own Pam… although we did about five minuntes after I got of stage.” Says the portfolio breadth is the company’s biggest strength in the channel, says he’ll show how business grows faster when you sell across the line.

3) Partnerships – Every channel chief talks about, “but this is more than just rhetoric.” “As we look at cloud computing, at mobility, at healthcare, at audio/video, we are going to have to make business decisions together.” Wants to make those decisions based on numbers, based on data, help solution providers know where to invest.

Monday March 28, 2011 3:16 
Goals of this conference: “I want the focus of these next three days to be on facts, not on hype.” Says that when he looks at other partner conferences, he doesn’t hear enough data — all the talk will be about how to make investments, where to make investments.
Monday March 28, 2011 3:17 
DiFranco touching on the growth seen in 2010 — says it was well above expectations. “I think we had a pretty terrific year.”
Monday March 28, 2011 3:19 
A year ago, DiFranco saw challenges in channel operations, pledged to spend more time on that than did his predecessors, and committed to focusing on the metrics. “This has been the most humbling year in my career,” he says, because of the scale of it and the the loyalty and commitment of partners.
Monday March 28, 2011 3:21 
Some numbers for the Americas — 20 per cent year over year revenue increase in the channel, added 263 more active resellers, paid out $50 million (U.S.) more than last year through PartnerOne.
Monday March 28, 2011 3:23 

DiFranco credits improved partner operations to streamlining — before, there wasn’t a CIO for the channel, DiFranco brought one in, giving the company one person (Rory Hunter) responsibility for the IT needs of partner organization, rather than a bunch of different HP IT execs each taking care of a portion of the channel business.

Monday March 28, 2011 3:26 

Some measurements: 80 per cent increase in number of partners using programs, partners are using 42 per cent more programs, and able to get in and out of channel tools 2.5x as fast as before.

Monday March 28, 2011 3:28 
“It is a bit of a maze to get through HP,” DiFranco admits. Working on consolidating PartnerOne — all business units are in it, including a unified networking unit under PartnerOne, and now software is also under the umbrella.
Monday March 28, 2011 3:29 
The company had 21-22 Elite designations a year ago, still has the same number, but is consolidating to make room for new specializations, bringing together print-related groups for example. “We’re rationalizing these Elites into practices,” DiFranco said. In our chat earlier today, DIFranco talked a fair bit about practices and the transition HP is making there.
Monday March 28, 2011 3:31 
DiFranco turns his attention to the “elephant in the room” — the direct/indirect mix.
Monday March 28, 2011 3:31 
Looked at why direct vs. the channel — says that in some instances, the company was accounting for thing in a way that incorrectly made the channel look more expensive than direct. Having corrected that, and made it “completely fiscally neutral,” HP reps wanted to work with partners for increased speed and efficiency.
Monday March 28, 2011 3:33 
“In the last 12 months our channel business has run 2.5x faster in revenue growth than any of our direct businesses” – and that includes acquisitions that were “functionally direct-focused.”
Monday March 28, 2011 3:35 

“I’m a big of an analytics freak. That’s because I’m not very smart and I need good information to make good decisions,” DiFranco says. For Canada, DiFranco estimates a $39 billion TAM in IT, with HP’s channel having access to $15 billion of that.

Monday March 28, 2011 3:39 

Stephen appears to have a TouchPad in his hand, which I suspect will be used to
a) show off HP’s channel analytics; and
b) show off the tablet itself. 

Monday March 28, 2011 3:40 
Channelnomics — DiFranco says — is giving the channel information so partners can make better decisions.
Monday March 28, 2011 3:42 

Dell has had SMB notebook lead for 15 years, but DiFranco said HP took the title in the last quarter. “And we didn’t do that by following the Dell model … we did it through the channel.”

Monday March 28, 2011 3:43 
Major growth opportunities per DiFranco — SMB, healthcare, mobility, sloud services, audio/video.
Monday March 28, 2011 3:45 
DiFranco going over the company unifying its SMB efforts under the SMB Central portal. But you already knew all about that.
Monday March 28, 2011 3:46 

Sounds like HP is the latest to catch the “value vs. volume” bug — DiFranco says over the long run, HP will change its partner programs from rewarding sales to rewarding practices (IE: specialization.)

Monday March 28, 2011 3:50 
Canadian market — $1.7b TAM for smartphones/tablets — of which $1.6b is for smartphones. But tablets are growing quickly,
Monday March 28, 2011 3:51 
WebOS will have its own ParnterOne benefits program, including MDF, deal registration for commercial, commercial SKU set of webOS products, and later in the year, an Elite designation. Mobile practice efforts are to roll out over the course of the current fiscal year.

“We want you to build a practice in the cloud for mobility.”

Monday March 28, 2011 3:52 
DiFranco wants partners to think about the audio/video opportunity, a $40b marketplace in the US alone. “It would take you two years to watch all the video on IP networks at this second,” DiFranco says. But less than ten minutes to watch our video interview with Stephen. (How’s that for a cheap plug?)
Monday March 28, 2011 3:54 
DiFranco predicts a battle between legacy IT and A/V solution providers is yet to come. Sounds like he expects to see the same kind of result (and integration) we saw with the battle between voice and data VARs ten years ago.
Monday March 28, 2011 3:56 
DiFranco details acquisitions of 3Par, Palm, Vertica, etc., and how HP is “channellizing” them, to create “a franchise.” — That doesn’t mean he expects partners to only sell HP, just that partners are building  a good part of their portfolio around HP’s products, and are leading with HP, including in new product segments.
Monday March 28, 2011 3:57 
DiFranco on GDP growth, 2.8 per cent US, 3 per cent Canda, 5 per cent LatAm. IT has (on average) grown about 2x GDP for the last 40 years.

He bets “the channel” grew 8 or 9 per cent. HP’s sales reporting showed that HP partners growing 18 per cent in 2010.  “Franchise partners” who sell all major product lines, who’ve built the business around HP have grown “greater than 50 per cent” year over year.

Monday March 28, 2011 4:00 
And with those numbers, DiFranco draws his presentation to a close. Now he’s introducing CEO Leo Apotheker.
Monday March 28, 2011 4:03 
And DiFranco becomes the first HP person here to actually say the word “Apotheker.” He’s just Leo to just about everyone.
Monday March 28, 2011 4:03 
Apotheker on the Japan disaster: With so much infrastructure being restored, HP doesn’t have great visibility as of yet. But the company is taking measures to make sure no contaminated parts get into supply chain, and is working to identify potential supply chain issues.
Monday March 28, 2011 4:05 

Leo addresses Oracle’s decision to drop Itanium: “It’s a rather clumsy attempt by Oracle to try to prop up a failing and deteriorating Sun Server business.” He calls it an anti-competitive move. 

Monday March 28, 2011 4:06 
“At least 10 years of development and innovation” with HP-UX and Itanium. Dave Donatelli will expand on this theme tomorrow, Apotheker says.
Monday March 28, 2011 4:07 

Apotheker says that he learned very quickly that the channel is a key differentiator for HP. Offer his gratitude “for the great work you are doing.” “I am 100 per cent committed to our channel partners everywhere.”

Monday March 28, 2011 4:08 
“Today, IT is becoming the very fabric of the global economy,” Apotheker says, but predicts that the “T” of IT will shrink while the “I” will become more important.
Monday March 28, 2011 4:10 
Apotheker touching on the integration of technology needs at home, on the road, at work, at play. Consumer acceptance of technology is pushing the enterprise, and the enterprise is pushing back with security and other needs.
Monday March 28, 2011 4:13 

“All of our customers need a trusted partner to help navigate this world, which we see clearly.”

Monday March 28, 2011 4:14 

Apotheker detailing what he sees as the transition from the traditional stack approach to IT, to a somewhat flattened environment. “Opportunities in the cloud are extraordinary,” he says.

Monday March 28, 2011 4:20 
HP and Dreamworks have been working together on a cloud type of system since the production of Shrek 2, Apotheker said, when HP offered computing for rendering on an on-demand basis.
Monday March 28, 2011 4:23 
Apotheker says HP will “build and run an HP cloud” in the near future. “We also plan to move into higher-value services that offer even greater strategic value,” most notably “platform services,” or what you would have known in the good ol’ days as “middleware.”
Monday March 28, 2011 4:25 
“This opportunity is open to all of you,” he tells partners.
Monday March 28, 2011 4:25 
HP will build an open marketplace that offers developer services, a consumer app store and an enterprise app catalogue.
Monday March 28, 2011 4:25 
Apotheker says HP will limit itself to restricting apps based on security and interoperability to make sure both an open and safe environment.
Monday March 28, 2011 4:26 
“You’ll touch the cloud through the device you touch,” he says of HP’s connectivity strategy for devices (with webOS) including smartphones, tablets, printers and PCs.
Monday March 28, 2011 4:27 
“Already we are one of the largest commercial software providers,” but will be expanding its portfolio with additional vertical solutions. Focus will be on SaaS.
Monday March 28, 2011 4:28 

Because HP doesn’t have a legacy information management solution, it can “leapfrog to where the market is going,” Apotheker says, with a focus on delivering analytics.

Monday March 28, 2011 4:29 
HP is the 5th largest IT security company in the world, Apotheker, says, “But we don’t want to remain number five. We want to be number one or number two, but number one is a lot better.”
Monday March 28, 2011 4:30 
“The HP executive team, starting with me, is committed and will continue to work with you.” Says his vision is to make the channel “a proactive force” in changing technology and business models.
Monday March 28, 2011 4:34 
And with that, Apotheker takes his seat, and Stephen DiFranco is up to wrap up the afternoon’s activities.
Monday March 28, 2011 4:36 
DiFranco detailing the APC mobile app, which is available for webOS and (somewhat surprisingly) other major smartphones.
Monday March 28, 2011 4:38 
We’re onto logistics and evening events, so that’s a wrap. Thanks for reading… more coverage on the site in a few hours.
Monday March 28, 2011 4:39