The ‘as-a-Service’ model of technology provision dates back to a conference in 2005, with the term Hardware-as-a-Service (HaaS) coined a year later by Nick Carr. The term describes a service provision model for hardware that is defined differently in managed services and grid computing contexts. In managed services, HaaS is similar to licensing. In grid computing, HaaS is a pay-as-you-go model. The pay-as-you-go model has now been embraced by the AV sector.
‘Hardware as a Service’ has now been available for more than a decade, but it is still a relatively unusual in AV and therefor attracting headlines. HaaS is now a rapidly growing managed service. The primary adopters have been SMBs with a critical need to leverage technology for a competitive edge, but without, necessarily, the resources or cash-flow necessary to keep up with technology changes through traditional purchasing methods.
The realisation is gradually spreading that that the use of obsolete technology can be even more costly, especially to a small or mid-sized organization. It can lead to poor productivity, lower revenue and lost data. HaaS is essentially with a package of maintenance and support services, combined with a Service Level Agreement (SLA) from a managed services provider that covers all aspects of technology provision, often including substitution of hardware when a new generation becomes available.
From the user’s perspective, not having to part with a lot of money upfront for the next hardware upgrade is an obvious benefit. HaaS effectively converts a large capital expense into a more manageable operating expense. This free sup your cashflow and adds the working capital critical to many organizations. Fixed monthly costs also makes technology (and associated maintenance support costs predictable budget items.
Those HaaS agreements that not only repair or replacement of broken hardware, but also provide upgrades to keep the technology state-of-the-art. It’s a bit of a truism, but: “You can’t expect to be successful in tomorrow’s business landscape using yesterday’s tools.”
The benefit to the user of deploying the most recent technology is share by the solution provider. Central to the HaaS model is a high level of service integrity and operational reliability. Under the traditional model of purchasing hardware, maintenance is neglected due to costs. With a HaaS solution, the equipment and service is included in the SLA.
Another major user benefit of HaaS is its built-in scalability. As the technology requirement grows or changes, HaaS agreements often allow users to integrate any number of new components. If the opposite occurs and, for some reason the requirement reduces, it is sometimes possible to scale down a HaaS solution rather than being stuck owning unneeded appliances.
The decision as to when a piece of hardware is obsolete is now not just a matter of performance. Compliance with emerging standards and security sometimes requires both hardware and software updates. This is often easier to accomplish HaaS, after all how much demand would you anticipate non-compliant, insecure second-hand hardware?
These and other benefits of HaaS spread from the typical SMB scenarios to corporate and even public sector environments – anywhere, in fact, that current technology at predictable Opex costs of value. Nowhere is this requirement more apparent than in tightly controlled areas like education (see Box 1 below), but with the rising popularity of HaaS as diverse as IT, telecommunications and even car ownership, even the cash-rich corporate sector is seeing and upsurge in interest see Box 2 below).
Box 1: SMART Classroom as a Service (ClaaS)
In September of 2015, SMART Technologies introduced Classroom as a Service (ClaaS). With SMART ClaaS, UK schools will be able to obtain their education technology needs including interactive displays, collaborative learning software, professional development and support from SMART and other best in class vendors, all under one easy-to-manage service agreement that can be tailored to meet budgetary requirements.
Instead of having to make a large capital expenditure to buy and own education technology, ClaaS will allow schools to benefit from the latest hardware and related software and support by making affordable monthly or quarterly payments over the length of a defined subscription term.
Abbots Bromley International School in Staffordshire is one of the first to trial the ClaaS offering through SMART’s UK managed service partners. Abbots Bromley School wanted to offer its diverse student base a state-of-the-art technology facility. “We knew it was critical for our school to offer a comprehensive technology experience in order to attract international students,” says Victoria Musgrave, Executive Head of Abbots Bromley School.
“With SMART’s technology supported by ClaaS, we can showcase these facilities and engage with prospective students and their parents virtually. Without ClaaS, there would be no possibility for us to raise the funds or invest in the state-of-the-art solution we have in place today.”
ClaaS is designed to help schools:
- Maximise their budget with savings that can amount to as much as 40 percent when compared to an outright purchase
- Release capital from their existing IT assets to help finance their new ClaaS subscription
- Receive ongoing servicing, training and maintenance which is covered by the agreement, ensuring schools and teachers get the most from technology
- Add more equipment and services as and when required
- Potentially include other equipment and services such as; tablets, PCs, printers and Wi-Fi from other best of breed suppliers
- Build in a regular refresh to ensure they always have the latest learning technology
- Flexible – users can choose a convenient term length (for example: 3, 4 or 5 years) with the ability to renew the contract, negotiate a new contract or end the contract at the end of the original term
Instead of having to make a large capital expenditure to buy and own education technology, ClaaS allows schools to benefit from the latest hardware and related software through affordable monthly or quarterly payments.
Box 2 – Surface as a Service
By the end of 2016, nine months since the launch, of Surface Hub Maverick, the distributor announced shipments to over 2,000 customers in 24 markets. Commenting on the sales at the time commented, “the demand for Surface Hub has been incredible, leading us to introduce new ways for our partners and customers and application developers to take advantage of everything that Surface Hub has to offer.”
Surface Hub is now available via a subscription-based model, including initial investment and configuration costs. Recent research from IDC shows that businesses have a clear appetite for this type of subscription model. With 73 percent of respondents expecting to move to subscription-based IT procurement over the next three years.
To meet this demand, Maverick has joined with Microsoft’s Surface Hub Value Added Distributors Program for Opportunity Resellers (VAD-OR). The Surface Hub VAD-OR Program allows select Surface Hub distributors to deliver the same quality services to Opportunity Resellers, without the typical requirements for building a long-term transactional business.
“This service is a real channel game changer for the collaboration market. Many companies offer various forms of leasing; our process will be far more sophisticated and accessible. We will be kicking off this service in partnership with Microsoft this year on a country by country basis to offer Surface Hub as a Service. This will enable resellers to access a subscription model then only have the Hub in place for as long as they need. The successful implementation of this type of program will create a far quicker sales cycle with more sophisticated solutions,” explained Jon Sidwick, VP of Maverick Europe
Microsoft has also introduced the ‘Surface Hub Try and Buy Program’ which started in February. This will customers with Hubs for 30 days before requiring a commitment to purchase a larger set of devices.
Microsoft Surface Hub is now available via a subscription-based model, including initial investment and configuration costs.