HP Rolls Out New Certifications for Smaller VARs

HP has rolled out a clear challenge to Cisco’s new Partner Led initiative by making room for smaller VARs who target the midmarket.

To do that, HP this week added certifications to its networking partner program and expanded Catalyst for Change, which aims to lure Cisco customers whose equipment has reached obsolescence.

The certifications now include the new Professional Networking Specialist designation in the HP PartnerONE program; it lets partners increase margins with minimal certification and sales requirements, HP said, paving the way for VARs with fewer financial and employee resources to sell the company’s products. The Advanced Networking Specialist title, on the other hand, requires more certification and sale commitments and, in turn, provides higher margins.

Meanwhile, HP has expanded its Catalyst for Change trade-in promotion through 2012. The program provides savings of up to 20 percent off the list price on HP switches, routers and wireless devices. Eligible orders also can be accompanied with a trade-in of comparable networking products from any vendor, and can include a refresh of HP technology with no minimum deal size requirements. Finally, HP has made it possible for channel partners in the United States to lease networking products as demo equipment for a monthly payment of 1.5 percent of list price for 18 months.

HP’s moves come as networking rival Cisco has opened its distribution channels to include partners focusing on the small and mid-size segments. Cisco traditionally has sold to large businesses but has been forced to revise that strategy in the face of a weak economy, lagging market share and investor expectations. HP hopes to capitalize on that uncertainty.

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