HP user groups prefer to go it alone

The three major Hewlett-Packard (HP) user groups have vowed to go ahead with their annual conferences, despite HP's decision to...

The three major Hewlett-Packard (HP) user groups have vowed to go ahead with their annual conferences, despite HP's decision to stage its own user conference next year.

HP announced earlier this month that it would hold a new conference, the HP Technology Forum 2005, in New Orleans next September.

An HP spokesman said the company wants one, all-embracing event so that it can "bring the full brunt of HP resources" to users.

The established HP World user conference was held in August in Chicago and has traditionally been produced by HP user groups Interex and Encompass.

Interex, the biggest HP user group, plans to stage HP World again next year, president Denys Beauchemin said.

"We just believe that being fully independent, yet loyal to our supplier of choice, would be best for everyone involved," he said.

Interex has yet to vote on whether it will take part in the HP Technology Forum 2005 and Beauchemin said it is "an extremely big decision for us", but if members prefer, Interex will work with HP on the new event.

Another HP user group, the OpenView Forum International, will continue with plans to hold its own Software Forum next year, but the group's president, Henry Wojci, said it is "a little bit concerned about our future".

He said  the success of HP Technology Forum 2005 will dictate what happens to Software Forum in 2006.

ITUG, another HP user group, also plans to hold its own ITUG Summit in October.

HP America's vice-president, David Parsons, said HP will continue to support its user groups, but whether that will translate to supporting their annual conferences to the same degree as in the past is unclear.

The idea of a single conference is a response to requests by HP customers for comprehensive information about hardware and software technologies, Parsons said.

David Watson writes for Computerworld

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