San Francisco – HP today made two key announcements to enhance its Preferred Partner Programme, introducing a new Gold level as a differentiator, as well as a new specialisation to take advantage of the boom in virtualisation. 

Sean Gallagher, HP's Preferred Partner sales and development director for EMEA, says that when the company looked at the future of the programme over the next three years, there were two prominent issues that emerged: how to provide more differentiation for partners; and how to increase HP's coverage in the market.
"These are the two main drivers for the Preferred Partner Programme in 2009," Gallagher says. "And they have led to two key evolutions. Firstly, a Gold level for partners. We spoke about introducing this level a year ago, but the time wasn't right, the architecture wasn't right.
"It was important that we took more time on this decision and we went back to the drawing board," he says. "We now believe that the time is right [for a gold level] and a number of our partners will be upgraded to Gold status, giving an indication of their level of expertise and the level of their relationship with HP."
Gallagher says that the criteria to qualify as a a Gold Partner will be announced within the next few weeks.
"The criteria will be posted in the week of 5 May and there will be specific criteria for different countries – they will be different from country to country," he says. "Partners will then have until 10 September to satisfy the criteria."
Although no specific details of the qualifying criteria were available, increased revenues and specialisation are two areas that partners will have to fulfill.
The vitualisation specialisation is the 13th specialisation to be introduced by HP and partner adoption is expected to be strong.
IDC predicts that the virtualisation services will reach $11,7-billion by 2011 and Gallagher reveals that HP's services specialists have grown by 36% in the past year.
"Partners can qualify for virtualisation specialisation through either Enterprise Service and Storage (ESS) or Personal Systems Group (PSG)," he says.