There's plenty of traditional channel partner news here at the HP Americas Partner Conference in Las Vegas. But sometimes, the juiciest news occurs over dinner. A case in point: Sources say HP VP Frank Rauch and Red Hat North America Channel Chief Roger Egan will likely meet for a meal tonight. Their mutual interest, besides fine dining: Finding new ways to target and engage Sun Microsystems' customer base. Here's the scoop.

Going after Sun's partner and customer base isn't a new sport. Ever since Oracle announced plans to buy Sun in 2009, big rivals like IBM and Hewlett-Packard have been launching special incentives to target Sun SPARC and Sun Solaris customers.

How are those efforts paying off so far? Hmmm... It's difficult for The VAR Guy to say for sure. But our resident blogger is trying to track down Roger Egan, VP of North American Channels at Red Hat. Rumor has it Egan will sit down this evening with Frank Rauch, HP's VP of enterprise servers, storage and networking channel sales. Surely, Egan and Rauch have a common enemy in Sun hardware.

Still, HP has to maintain a delicate balancing act. During a meeting earlier today, HP's Rauch told The VAR Guy that HP's relationship with Oracle (owner of Sun) remains strong. And in a separate meeting, HP VP Mike Parrottino described how HP is leveraging Oracle's Siebel software for some new channel-oriented customer relationship management (CRM) and business intelligence moves.

Talk about irony: HP is leveraging Oracle's BI software to make smarter channel moves... against Sun.

Ah, but don't weep for Oracle-Sun. After all, Oracle Channel Chief Judson Althoff is preparing some new Oracle PartnerNetwork (OPN) Specialized moves that involve Sun partners. The VAR Guy suspects Althoff could share details as soon as sometime this week.

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