Microsoft and HP Provide Unified Front to Benefit SMB-Focused Partners

Hewlett-Packard Co. and Microsoft have recently stepped up efforts to support their shared SMB-focused channel partners through the HP/Microsoft Frontline Partnership program, which includes customer campaigns, marketing money and sales and marketing collateral.

The Frontline Partnership (FLP) leverages two of the industry's largest channel programs. The Microsoft Partner Program has 395,000 partners worldwide, including about 140,000 in the United States. HP PartnerOne, while smaller, is also huge by channel standards with about 150,000 worldwide partners and 15,000 in North America alone. FLP officials want to keep barriers to entry low, so any channel partner with a Microsoft Partner Program ID number and an HP PartnerOne ID can sign in and start using FLP resources at

The program is organized around five campaigns targeted at small to midsize businesses (SMBs). FLP launched four campaigns in the fall: Upgrade to Exchange 2007; First Server, Right Server; Upgrade the Client and Enable Your Mobile Workforce. Recent improvements to the program have enhanced the server campaign and brought the launch of a fifth campaign called the Remote Access Solution that pulls Citrix Systems Inc. technology into the mix.

HP/Microsoft Frontline Partnership Campaigns
Frontline Partnership Campaign Targeted Customers Technologies in the Sale
First Server, Right Server Companies of 5-75 employees without a server infrastructures Windows SBS 2003 R2, HP ProLiant ML350 G5 Server, HP StorageWorks
Upgrade to Exchange 2007 SMBs with older versions of Microsoft Exchange on 32-bit servers Exchange 2007 with Service Pack 1 and 64-bit HP servers
Upgrade the Client Low midmarket to core midmarket companies (25-250 employees) HP PCs, Windows Vista and Microsoft Office 2007
Enable Your Mobile Workforce Any SMB HP handhelds and notebooks, Windows Mobile and Windows Vista
Remote Access Essentials Any SMB Remote Access Solution from HP, Microsoft and Citrix
SOURCE: HP/Microsoft Frontline Partnership

While those programs are similar to the Microsoft Ready To Go campaigns, they include specific information about the HP hardware included in the system. They also provide the companies' joint partners with sales and marketing materials that present customers with information on more complete solutions -- in other words, not just the software side of the equation.

HP partners familiar with HP Campaign Central and Bring IT Together campaigns will notice a few differences, too. The FLP campaigns are more customizable and contain a greater mix of marketing elements than HP Campaign Central resources. But unlike the Bring IT Together campaigns, the FLP initiatives don't focus on specific SKUs or Microsoft license types, according to a partner slide deck on the programs.

Among the most valuable elements of the Frontline Partnership is a series of free tools for creating, distributing and using customized business letters, postcards, event invitations, brochures, HTML e-mails, Web pages, presentations and telesales scripts. In a slide deck, HP and Microsoft estimate that cost savings for their partners from using all the tools in a typical campaign could reach about $10,000. They also provide options for Frontline partners to buy printing, mailing and list rental services. Frontline partners can also book visits from Microsoft Across America trucks, the rolling tech labs that criss-cross the United States to support partner and Microsoft field sales events. HP helps Microsoft cover the costs of supporting the trucks for FLP-related visits.

The Frontline Partnership also provides a structured process for resellers to apply for marketing funds for integrated campaigns. Each partner can apply for funding for two campaigns per year. Registered Members can qualify for up to $1,000 for a campaign, while Certified and Gold Certified Partners can qualify for up to $5,000.

To encourage partners to report on their pipelines and on their closed revenues, the FLP offers a $100 credit toward future campaigns in exchange for such reports.

About the Author

Scott Bekker is editor in chief of Redmond Channel Partner magazine.