'It's my party, I'll cry if I want to'

HP user groups to continue with own conferences despite new HP user event

The three major Hewlett Packard 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 it would hold a new conference, the HP Technology Forum 2005, in New Orleans next September. An HP spokesman says the company wants one all-embracing event so it can "bring the full brunt of HP resources" to users.

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

Interex, the biggest HP user group, plans to hold HP World again next year, president Denys Beauchemin told Computerworld US.

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

Interex is yet to vote on whether it will take part in the HP Technology Forum 2005 and Beauchemin says it's "an extremely big decision for us," but that if members are in favour, 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 conference next year, but the group's president, Henry Wojci, says it is "a little bit concerned about our future" and that the success of HP Technology Forum 2005 "dictates what happens to us in 2006."

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

HP's Americas vice president, David Parsons, says 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 says.

New Zealand has only one HP user group, Encompass NZ, which is affiliated to both Encompass and Interex.

Earlier this year, when the idea of a single HP user conference run by the company was first mooted, Encompass NZ chairman Alan Dick told Computerworld "we're agnostic as to what's happening in the US."

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