Hewlett-Packard's decision to award 150 partners the Gold accreditation from 1 November has caused disappointment among some resellers who had expected the recruitment process to be more selective.
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Other plans for HP's new fiscal year include the addition of 200 SME focused Preferred Partners to sit alongside the 100 resellers that did not step up to the Gold certification.
Talking to Microscope, Dave Poskett, director of the solutions partner organisation (SPO) confirmed it would appoint 150 Gold members but said out of the thousands of resellers in the UK it was "pretty exclusive".
"It is always a balance of where to draw the line," he said "we felt that was the right number, there are 150 partners who warrant that status by doing $1.9m with us each year or have specialisations," he said.
The Gold tier accreditation was first mooted at HP's 2006 preferred partner conference in Barcelona when it was initially designed for around 30 UK partners, before it was canned altogether in 2007.
The scheme was revived at this year's partner event in San Francisco but Tom Kelly, UK managing director at Logicalis had understood from HP's announcement in April that Gold was supposed to be an elite club.
"It was supposed to be something special but appointing that number of partners in a territory the size of the UK and Ireland is ridiculous, it devalues the whole thing," he said.
Martin Hellawell, managing director at Softcat, suggested the right number of Gold partners would be around 30 "but I realise it is incredibly difficult for HP to cut off partners that may have invested in skills."
The benefits of Gold accreditation include deal registration and though discretionary marketing development funds (MDF) for the tier has been withdrawn, resellers will still get Partner Development Funds and Pay For Results rebates.
The overall injection of HP cash in the distribution and reseller channel will rise to $250m this year said Poskett but it is not clear if the Gold partners can expect a rise in PFR, even though HP is removing PFR from standard Preferred Partners from November.
"We are still finalising the Ts&Cs and will have to look at funding tier by tier to see what it looks like but the overall level [across the channel] will increase," he said.
On plans to broaden coverage of the SME market, Poskett said HP will recruit 200 partners. To qualify resellers must sell $380,000 worth of HP kit a year, complete the partner profile and questionnaire every six months and acquire a Partner Fundamental Certification.