London – HP – in collaboration with hosted services provider Cobweb – yesterday opened the doors for its UK resellers to take advantage of the burgeoning cloud computing market, but it's unclear when and how a similar opportunity would be rolled out in the South African channel.

Under the agreement to offer private-label Microsoft solutions via the cloud to resellers, UK channel partners can now offer hosted solutions that allow customers to take advantage of monthly subscriptions. This eliminates the need for upfront capital expenditure and instead converts them to operating expenses.
Private-label hosted solutions available under the agreement include Microsoft Exchange Server, Dynamics CRM, SharePoint Services and Microsoft e-mail archiving – some of today's fastest-growing hosted services.
Tom Yeates, director channel sales, HP EMEA, says the UK is the second territory after the US where hosted services have been rolled out with Cobweb. "The reason we are doing this with Cobweb is that they are a source of significant expertise in delivering software as a service (SaaS)," he says. "You need both technology and expertise to make this kind of thing work and Cobweb has this."
Yeates says the service would be extended to other territories, including South Africa, but that there was no fixed schedule on this. It also has to be determined whether Cobweb would be the partner of choice in other territories or whether a local service provider would be appointed.
"I can't presently give any timelines on any other territories," Yeates says. "But it is not going to take 15 years – we're talking quarters. We're also not going to pick up lots of different service partners in all the different territories. We're comfortable with Cobweb in the US and UK, so don't expect to shop around for similar local guys. That's not our strategy.
"But the HP partner network will be the route to market," he adds. "The core way of doing this is through working with our resellers. They are key in bringing this proposition to SMBs because many of them have been dealing with these companies for years. They are trusted by SMBs when it comes to making a decision on this kind of service.
"It's an exciting offering and I think that in the SMB market this will become an increasingly important deployment alternative," Yeates says. "It just makes so much sense."