When HP ProCurve's UK country manager, Jon Weatherall, hit the road at the tail end of July 2007, some in the channel rushed to paint his departure as the end of an era.
But six months later, and with his successor now installed in the hot seat, ProCurve has maintained a steady course. Business has remained good, boosted by a series of product releases.
The new incumbent of the UK post, Darryl Brick, will be familiar to many in the HP channel from his previous roles in TSG and partner management. With more than a decade's experience within the HP machine, first in South Africa and later in Europe, Brick said he saw the ProCurve business as a natural extension to his portfolio.
"It's growing rapidly, and any business that's growing within HP is automatically a good one," he elaborated. "It's profitable, and HP is also investing in R&D, our people and the channel."
As revealed last week (MicroScope, 14 January), Brick was keen to dispel the long-standing rumour that ProCurve would be spun off from its parent, emphasising that the increased investment in the unit was proof enough this would not happen.
Brick agreed that his predecessor had left a good legacy and a well-run UK business to build upon, but expressed his belief that there were areas that could be improved.
"I've inherited a good set-up, but its general fitness levels were down while waiting for a replacement [for Weatherall], and I think there were some bad habits creeping in. I'm going to be big on clearing that up," he said.
In the coming months, the industry can expect to see more new ProCurve kit hitting the shelves, as well as a refresh on its Switch 2600 series. In the longer term, Brick hoped the increased R&D money would fuel ProCurve's existing market, as well as expanding its touch into market segments and systems that it is currently missing out on.
ProCurve partners also had their own ideas on direction, with one calling for more investment in routing products -- ProCurve currently markets only one router, the 7000dl series -- if it was to truly challenge firms such as Cisco.
"It's great that they [ProCurve] are so confident, but without that I can't see them being that successful," he remarked.
As far as ProCurve is concerned, Cisco remains the elephant in the room. As previously examined, ProCurve will co-exist with the networking giant within HP's business, but in spite of this, Brick was adamant that ProCurve's products would prove themselves.
While Brick insisted he was not going to use HP as a "competitive weapon" to leverage ProCurve's relationship with its parent, he admitted his sights were set firmly on eroding Cisco's business.
"If I can make myself more vital than they are, that would be fantastic," he said. "But there are also rich hunting grounds in the 3Com, Nortel and Extreme channels, so we can go there and double our market share if we do the right job.
"The message to partners," Brick continued, "is that they stand to benefit from the position that we're in, and I want to accelerate that. We're running more events, more seminars and more advertising. The top 15 were already in my remit, so I know those guys and hope they know my capabilities."
In the coming weeks, ProCurve will focus on bringing more large enterprise solution providers, an area where it is currently lacking, into the channel. Brick also mooted the possibility of a distribution shake-up to bring more effective coverage to resellers.