Hewlett-Packard yesterday launched its Preferred Partner Gold programme to the South African market, promoting 32 of its 170 local preferred partners to the new level.

Announced at HP's Preferred Partner Conference in San Francisco earlier this year, the new programme officially kicks off on 1 September.
Mark Perry, country manager for SPO at HP SA, says the new gold programme is aimed at differentiating its top level partners.
"Many of you have been preferred partners for a long time," Perry told partners at the launch. "We found that the logo was becoming diluted as more and more partners joined the programme. It's just been growing and growing.
"Before the gold programme there was no differentation between a partner with a multitude of skills and a partner who had just joined the programme," he says. "Now there is, and 32 of our current 170 preferred partners have been selected as Gold Preferred Partners based on criteria such as skills, certification and turnover."
The number of gold partners could still increase before the official launch of the new programme, Perry says. "All our preferred partners have until the end of August to meet the qualifying criteria," he says.
At the event, HP also announced its alliance programme with Microsoft – Frontline Partners – and its new virtualisation specialisation.
"We are identifying, along with Microsoft, partners who have competencies in special areas such as business intelligence as part of this new programme," Perry says. "These partners will receive funding from both Microsoft and HP in their go-to-market strategies. We are going to introduce similar programmes with other alliance partners such as Oracle and SAP, but the Frontline Programme will be the benchmark going forward."