Three HP user groups officially combine forces

Members approve merger plan announced in February; unified group named Connect

The Hewlett-Packard user community has created its own supergroup of sorts, with three independent user groups focused on HP technologies officially merging into a single organization called Connect.

The Encompass, HP-Interex EMEA and ITUG user groups announced the merger plan in early February, saying that they hoped to reduce costs while increasing training opportunities for their members and gaining more clout with HP.

The three groups said today that the combination has now been approved by their respective memberships. They also disclosed that the newly unified user group will be called Connect; previously, it was referred to as Endeavour, but that was described as a temporary name.

Connect will have about 50,000 members — 33,000 of them from HP-Interex EMEA, a Brussels-based former affiliate of Interex, a U.S. user group that folded in 2005. Encompass, which originated as a group for users of the former Digital Equipment Corp., and ITUG, which represents users of HP's NonStop systems, have about 16,000 and 2,500 members, respectively. The latter two groups are both based in Chicago.

"We realized we are much better together," said Nina Buik, who headed Encompass and will be Connect's first president. "We have a 50,000-member base out of the gate that is going to have a much stronger voice toward HP." Buik works as a senior vice president at MindIQ Corp., an IT training firm in Norcross, Ga.

Voting on the proposed merger concluded April 30 among Encompass and ITUG members, according to Buik, who said the votes were "overwhelmingly" in favor of the change. She added that HP-Interex EMEA members had previously agreed to join the combined group.

A fourth HP user group, Boulder, Colo.-based Vivit, formerly known as OpenView Forum International, also was invited to join in the merger but declined to do so, Buik said. Officials at Vivit, which focuses on software products such as HP OpenView, couldn't be reached for comment today.

Copyright © 2008 IDG Communications, Inc.

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