HP's Aussie gold partners judge $120bn divorce

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HP's Aussie gold partners judge $120bn divorce

Australian HP partners speaking to CRN have given unanimous approval to HP’s decision to spin off its PC business, with some saying the move is well overdue.

One Australian HP partner described having servers, services and PCs part of the same company as a “bad marriage”, while others congratulated the Australian boss of HP’s new PC company.

More than one drew comparisons with IBM, which divested its PC division to Lenovo in 2004 to focus more on enterprise services.

Triforce general manager David Gleeson said IBM had seen some success when it divested PCs and assumed HP would be looking for a strong outcome.

This isn't the first time HP considered a break-up; it was originally proposed by previous CEO Leo Apotheker in 2011.

Triforce's Gleeson said HP made the right choice by not taking that path three years ago. He took confidence in the fact that this time around, HP has already announced a management team for both sides of the business.

“I think three years ago they did it rushed and were reactive but I think this has had a lot more thought into it and lot more work in the backend.”

Asked what he wanted from the new HP, Gleeson said he hoped the company will reach out to the channel more. Triforce is an HP enterprise partner and Gold Partner on the PC side and will resell products from both new companies.

Data#3's group general manager, Laurence Baynham, was also positive about the move.

"The PC and printer business is very different to a services, software and infrastructure business. I think over time it will become a very good strategic move," Baynham told CRN.

HP has been one of Data#3's largest partners for the last 20 years, across PCs and printers as well as servers and services. Baynham described the relationship as one of "co-opetition" when it came to services.

"The PCs and printer part of the business is very clear cut as a reseller. Therefore, we know our respective roles. With services, it depends on the opportunities.

"Partners and resellers will be complimentary and working with them, but in other opportunities may be competitive. HP are no different to many of the other global [vendors] that have a large services business."

Baynham was also happy to see Australian-born Dion Weisler now leading HP's printing and PC business. "I’m pleased to see an Australian run one of the global entities. It’s just a pat on the back to Dion. And congratulations to him, he’s worked hard to get into that role.

Dicker Data boss David Dicker is glad HP isn't going down a similar path to IBM and completely shedding its PC arm; that would have been a “gigantic error”, he said. 

“I think the HP strategy is infinitely better than the one IBM took,” he told CRN. “The problem is IBM never considered the PC to be a strategic product despite the fact they built and defined the category. HP is not making that mistake.”

By splitting the PC and server operations into two companies, it will force both sides to perform if they want to win big deals that span servers, storage, printing and desktops, said Dicker.

Also welcoming the news was Ahmed Latif of Sydney-based LinkTech Solutions. He said his company has already operated with HP in silos for years.

“I think it's way overdue. [It was a] bad marriage and everyone knew it except the couple themselves: it was only a matter of time before the divorce,” he said.

What about Meg?

While Weisler is getting the thumbs up, so is Meg Whitman, who has declared she will remain as CEO of Hewlett-Packard Enterprise and become chairman of HP Inc.

Deni Saupin, managing director at Sydney’s Matrix CNI, said it would be good news if Whitman sticks with HP to see the plan through.

“I would love to see a statement of longevity [from Meg Whitman],” he said. “I do get [the feeling she is in it for the long haul] but you just never know.”

Saupin expected the split will be good news for Matrix CNI if it means the enterprise business has a tighter focus on networking now that PCs and printers spun off. He was also glad the industry giant was keeping the HP and Hewlett-Packard branding.

Hamish Leighton, director of software partner Revolution IT, said he was still unsure what the change would mean for the software arm. When CRN spoke to Leighton, he hadn't been informed where the software business would sit, but expected it to be on the enterprise side.

“In terms of their overall business [software] is a very small percentage. We sell a very small slice of HP's total software offering and I am pretty sure that they want to grow their software business,” Leighton said.

“I expect that as a result of this split they will put more of a focus on this space like IBM did, which sold off it PC business and x86 business.”

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