Hewlett-Packard is pushing on with its new unified technology conference and holding the first event in a year's time.
The company said the new event, the HP Technology Forum 2005, would deliver qualified, consistent education and training opportunities for customers, partners and staff. It added that it was planning the new event in close consultation with major user groups and would still support separate user events next year.
Encompass US and Open View Forum Internal (OVFI) will participate in the HP Technology Forum 2005, although OVFI will still host its own software-focused event next June.
However, HP did not say whether Interex, the largest HP user group with 100,000 members, would take part in the new conference.
Last week, the user group's president Denys Beauchemin said Interex would continue to hold its HP World event in 2005 and was evaluating its involvement in the HP Technology Forum 2005.
Henry Wojcik, president of the 7,000-member OVFI, said HP's new conference was "an opportunity for cross-training and exposing more of HP's enterprise customers to HP software solutions".
HP's move has been seen as a challenge to user group conferences, which will now have to vie to get users to attend. HP officials said the idea of a single conference arose from requests by HP customers for comprehensive information.
User group members have argued that a supplier-sponsored conference such as the HP Technology Forum 2005 will be marketing-driven and a threat to their independence. User groups gain most of their revenue from conferences, through supplier sponsorships, trade floor space hire, advertising and fees.
The HP Technology Forum 2005 will take place from 12 to 15 September 2005 in New Orleans.
Matt Hamblen writes for Computerworld