VARs Get New SMB Tools From HP, Microsoft

Hewlett-Packard, Microsoft initiatives give VARs further reason to target the growing small and medium business space.

Although the global economy is in recession and IT spending is way down in many sectors, the small and medium business (SMB) space holds promise for VARs as it is actually growing.

Researcher IDC estimates that SMB IT spending will grow by 3.2 percent this year, while total worldwide IT spending will only grow by 0.5 percent.

New initiatives from Hewlett-Packard (NYSE: HPQ) and Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT) give VARs further reason to target the SMB space. Both vendors have rolled out new services and tools for VARs serving SMBs.

Microsoft’s initiative is Windows 7 Small Business Ignite Program, which provides a select group of Microsoft's VARs and their small business customers an opportunity to experience Microsoft's Windows 7, its next operating system.

Microsoft will work with about 6o VARs worldwide to try to win small businesses over to the new OS. Getting SMBs to switch from Windows XP and Vista would be a tough job in any economy, but it will be particularly tough at a time of free-fall collapse – so working with VARs may prove a smart move.

Dedicated sales support

HP unfurled several free enhancements to its PartnerONE program, providing SMB VARs with new resources and funding to drive sales in the SMB market, which it estimates to be worth about $68 billion.

“VARs are HP’s lead route to market in the SMB environment and a crucial part of our long-term goal to be the No. 1 partner vendor of choice,” said Meaghan Kelly, HP's vice president, Channel Sales Development and Strategy, Solution Partners Organization – Americas. “We are investing in VARs to ensure they and we can continue to capitalize on the growth of the SMB market.”

HP’s key enhancement is SMB Elite, a tool that provides SMB VARs dedicated sales support and marketing funds for such activities as demand-generation activities, as well as customer leads and enhanced partner locater assistance.

SMB Elite will be available beginning May 1.

HP also announced it is providing SMB VARs with similar deal registration benefits to those it provides to larger ones.

To help VARs gain a piece of the cloud computing market, HP partnered with hosting company USA.NET, enabling VARs to provide SMBs with subscription-based critical applications.

Finally, HP is offering SMB VARs a free tool -- Insight Remote Support, which enables them to deliver continuous, automated, and secure monitoring and fault detection services.

TAGS: Microsoft,HP,SMBs,VARs,VAR program

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