HP is lining up multi-vendor support on IBM, Dell and Oracle servers and storage previously open only to the direct sales force, as it tries to win back the confidence of resellers opting for cheaper third party maintainers (TPM).
The tech monster will roll out support services throughout fiscal 2011 and is going through its training plans with distributors, after tasking them last year to more than triple the 150 dealers that it currently partners.
Paul Early, services partner manager at HP, said it was kicking off the process in the mid-market with maintenance contracts around its industry standard server (ISS) portfolio.
"We know that when we go to those accounts, particularly in the mid-market, clients have a mixed vendor strategy that is always price driven," he said.
Hardware support services covering infrastructure kit on IBM, Dell and Oracle but the portfolio is about to be moved to resellers.
Additionally, HP has portfolio services for Red Hat Linux, SUSE, VMware, Microsoft and Citrix that are part direct and partly done on an OEM basis.
Early committed to price contractual services more aggressively to compete with TPMs and "win back some of the ISS business" but he was realistic about the short term growth prospects.
"Like Critical Advantage, we are not expecting to sell multiple millions in the next six months, this is a long term strategy to enter ourselves in the market," he said.
The view from the coalface is that HP is ticking more boxes to help partners get behind its services but a concern voiced by Simon Aron, joint managing director at Eurodata, is that the vendor has not gone far enough.
"Resellers can't go to an upper mid-market customer and say 'I can cover those first 10 items you have but not those last three'. HP has to think like a TPM, act like a TPM, and offer the whole story. Customers want one throat to choke."
More than 40% of calls handled by IBM are for non-IBM machines and services are sold on kit from HP, Oracle, EMC, Cisco and others, while including support for Microsoft and Linux products.
Jacqueline Davey, vice president of the Business Partner Organisation, said: "IBM Business Partners are a very important route to market for MTS ... the flexible ServiceSuite contract is available for re-sale by the majority of our BPs."