DiFranco: “We’re glad to be at HP”


HP Americas PSG chief Stephen DiFranco.

LAS VEGAS – Just a short month ago, Stephen DiFranco was in the awkward position of coming to Las Vegas to present to a reseller community (Ingram Micro’s VentureTech Network) in the midst of tremendous upheaval at HP that included the very real possibility that his business unite (the Personal System Group) would be spun off from HP proper.

So it’s probably no surprise that returning to Sin City this week for Synnex’s Varnex Fall Conference, DiFranco, HP’s PSG chief for the Americas, seemed quite relieved by the way things have played out since then.

“We’re glad to be at HP,” DiFranco told attendees. “This has been a very unique last quarter with the evaluation of the PSG organization inside of HP, and I’m very proud to have been part of that review and to have been with [new CEO] Meg [Whitman] when she announced PSG was going to stay at HP.”

DiFranco thanked the company’s partners for sticking with it through a busy and uncertain quarter, and noted that conversations with channel partners, who strongly supported the idea that HP was better intact than apart, “really drove this decision” for HP to remain whole.

Along with the usual buying power argument, DiFranco cited the scale partners are able to get with a single vendor by having access to products across its ESSN, IPG and PSG division, a scale that leads to HP partners growing faster than the technology industry in general, which itself tends to outstrip GDP growth by a factor of two.

DiFranco pointed out four major opportunities he sees dawning for the solution provider community.

First, the evolution of the “thin client” into the “thin enterprise,” where partners have a major role to play in both data centre and desktop virtualization.

Second, the development of a family of “all in one” desktops for business that aims to take what has been a successful home product for HP and make it into a corporate favorite.

Third, mobile workstations, ultra-high-end laptops that continue to develop in power, and have the potential to untether those who need high-performance computing from their desks.

And fourth, the development of the Intel Ultrabook thin-and-light notebook concept for the corporate markets. “As exciting as this is in the consumer space, we believe there’s also a great opportunity in the commercial space,” he said.

DiFranco took a few questions from the audience, confirming that development of webOS is ongoing at the software level, but saying that another run at the TouchPad or a similar media tablet was unlikely. “As you can see from other people selling tablets, that has been a very challenging market for non-Apple products,” DiFranco conceded. However, work is ongoing on Windows-based tablet devices, he confirmed.

DiFranco also addressed partner concerns about the impact of the floods in Thailand on the availability and pricing of hard drives in the near future. DiFranco stressed that HP is “working hard to get our supply lines line up,” a move especially important since it’s the biggest buyer of hard drives in the world. “We’re going to be okay,” he assured partners.

Further, DiFranco (who with two years as marketing boss at hard drive vendor Maxtor knows a thing or two about the business) praised the hard disk industry as “on e of the most resilient industries I’ve ever seen.”

“They’ve overcome so many issues in the past,” he said. “We’ll inevitably see some disruption, but they’re going to come back hard and fast. I’m confidant they’ll get back up and running very quickly.”