CRN Exclusive: HP VP Sounds Off On Channel Controversy Surrounding Deal To Resell Microsoft Surface Pro

HP VP Defends Surface Pro Reseller Pact

Hewlett-Packard Vice President Mike Nash spoke with CRN about the No. 1 U.S. PC maker's decision to resell Microsoft's Surface Pro and how it will impact channel partners.

Nash, who oversees product management for HP's consumer PC and global business unit, discussed how the printing and PC group's 2,000-strong direct sales force will handle the conflict that comes with selling both the Surface Pro and HP's own competing products.

The interview came after HP said it is joining Microsoft's "Surface Enterprise Initiative" aimed at driving Windows 10 into large corporate enterprise accounts.

As part of the deal, HP said it plans to resell Surface Pro and deliver a new set of HP Care Packs designed specifically to help customers plan, configure, deploy and manage Windows 10 in enterprise environments. Here is an excerpt of the interview with Nash.

Is this a slap in the face to the channel?

I truly don't view it that way. If there is one thing I would say it is as this thing got announced, had there been more of an opportunity to perhaps brief the channel and get them more up to speed on what is going on that probably would have been helpful. But it is absolutely not a slap in the face to the channel. We love our channel. Our channel is critical to our business. Frankly, selling HP devices obviously is the core of our strategy. The fact that we are making this additional offering available should not distract from that. It only makes us more customer-centric.

All the enterprise tools we are talking about -- the Care Packs -- they are all channel-centric. Most of our business is through the channel. And most of our business is going to continue to be selling HP commercial products to our enterprise customers.

Who has the most secure 2-in-1 device -- Microsoft with Surface Pro or HP?

We have extensive investments in [HP] SureStart [a self-healing PC BIOS] and other technologies in our firmware to make sure that when our devices boot they are designed to have super-high integrity. The amount of time and investment HP has made to make sure we are secure at that level is industry-leading. When a customer chooses a device, they have to look at all the dimensions of a device and choose the one that is best for them. But from a security perspective, I don't think anyone is in our zone.

So does that mean HP has better security than Surface Pro 3?

I think every customer has to go look at their needs. I am not an expert on Surface Pro 3 security. I know a lot about ours, and I feel very good about our investment.

What we need to do and what we will give to our sales force and to our channel is a really clear delineation of all the dimensions of security so they can help customers make an informed decision. But it depends on what the customers are trying to do and what their needs are. It varies customer to customer. They have to pick the device that is best for them.

Talk about why you made the decision to resell the Surface Pro 3.

We love our products. We are very proud of our products, but there are some customers that are deploying Surface Pro 3 in their environments and we want to make sure they can be successful.

What will the HP direct sales force lead with -- HP 2-in-1s or Microsoft Surface Pro?

I think we are going to go out first and understand what the customer is trying to do. We will lead with HP and we will make sure they are successful with Surface Pro 3 wherever they need it.

Surface Pro is part of our portfolio. Do you lead with the HP Pro X2 612 or do you lead with the HP EliteBook 1020? The answer is we must first understand what the customer is trying to do. Our job is to match the customer with the product that is best for their needs.

What is your message to the HP direct sales force and channel partners with regard to the Surface Pro reseller deal?

We are very excited about our hardware and software road map, but at the same time we know there is a set of customers that for some set of PCs in their environment already have [Surface Pro] or want to have Surface Pro 3s there. We want to make sure that we can take enterprise services and support and make them successful. And if as a part of that a customer also needs to be able to acquire a Surface Pro 3 and prefers to get it from HP, they have that option.

Will Surface Pro 3 be sold on

We will not sell these on We are selling them only direct to the customer through the enterprise sales force. The emphasis is on the service and support. If a customer wants to buy a [Surface Pro 3] device from HP, they have the option.

How often are enterprise customers demanding Surface Pro?

There is a subset of customers that want to have some of their devices be Surface Pro 3s. We want to make sure we can solve their needs, especially from a service and support perspective.

If the customer wants to get a [Surface Pro 3] device from us we want to make sure that we have the opportunity to offer it to them. It is about customer choice: what they buy, where they buy it and how it gets supported. When customers choose, they tend to choose HP for their hardware. They tend to choose HP for their service and support.

Isn't this deal a slight to the HP product line?

We love the set of products we have in our commercial PC space -- the laptops and desktops -- and our mobility products -- tablets, detachables, 360s. … etc. Frankly, we are the No. 1 player in commercial. Customers vote with their pocketbooks with the combination of our products and the service and support we offer. We are very proud of the fact that customers choose HP both for the hardware they buy and the services they get as part of that to plan, deploy, operate and manage those systems. Manageability is a big deal. Security is a big deal.

The decision to go support Surface Pro 3 is all about the fact that especially in light of Windows 10, devices like Surface Pro 3 are in enterprises. It is a fact. If a customer has an environment that is a mix of HP devices and Surface Pro 3s, we want to make sure they can get the same level of support and planning and security and manageability for their Surface Pro 3s as they get for the rest of their HP product line.