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Oracle Poaches Key HP Channel Exec; IBM Taps New Partner Chief

It's no secret Oracle is out for Hewlett-Packard's blood since bringing on deposed CEO Mark Hurd as president. Now it appears Oracle wants to onboard as many HP partners as it can.

Oracle has poached veteran HP channel exec Tom LaRocca, a move that escalates an already heated battle in the partner ranks of the two companies. The war ignited last year when Oracle hired onetime HP channel chief Adrian Jones as a senior VP for systems sales in the Asia Pacific region, a move that led to a lawsuit between the two companies (see "How Adrian Jones' Superstar IT Career Went Sideways").

LaRocca joined Oracle this week, he said in an e-mail to me. At Oracle, LaRocca will be driving the go-to-market plans and strategy for the Oracle PartnerNetwork (OPN), he explained.

With the hiring of LaRocca, Oracle has nabbed a key architect of HP's PartnerOne program. LaRocca, who spent 12 years at HP, joined its Solution Provider Organization in 2004 after serving as a director of program and product management in the company's Enterprise Storage and Server business, according to his bio.

LaRocca oversaw the development of HP's partner programs, where he directed channel marketing, training and certification programs and the PartnerOne channel program.  He played a highly visible role in the HP partner community.

In one of his last efforts at HP, LaRocca was charged with motivating HP's partners to sell the company's webOS-based TouchPad tablets, CRN noted. That effort came to a screeching halt when former CEO Leo Apotheker killed the webOS hardware business just six weeks after launching the TouchPad.

An HP spokeswoman said LaRocca left at the end of December but the company has not announced a replacement for him.

In an ironic development, SAP this week tapped onetime HP channel chief Kevin Gilroy to lead global indirect channels. Gilroy joined SAP two years ago as VP of channel and business development for the SMB segment in North America.

While HP looks to fill a key hole in its channel group, arch rival IBM has named a new leader of its partner organization. IBM has named Mark Hennessy general manager of its business partner organization. Hennessy, a 32-year veteran of Big Blue, has served many key roles at IBM, including CIO and VP of global strategy and sales transformation.

In taking over its business partner organization, Hennessy will oversee a group that services approximately 120,000 business partners. Among his key initiatives will be to help partners gain footing in key growth areas such as cloud computing and business intelligence.

The move is part of an executive shuffle that kicked off with the New Year, when Virginia Rometty succeeded longtime IBM CEO Samuel Palmisano.

Posted by Jeffrey Schwartz on January 12, 2012