Is HaaS the new SaaS?

Vendors, customers and the channel alike have embraced software-as-a-service, but what about hardware-as-a-service?

The concept has been around for a couple of years, but it hasn’t gone much further than discussion and debate. Very few solution providers have actually put this concept into practice. But this may be about to change.

Ingram is now offering formal financing for HaaS through its Seismic managed services program, so solution providers can finance hardware – such as routers, servers, laptops and storage systems – along with their managed services offerings. The idea is to provide one bill to customers, but solution providers are paid up front for the hardware while bringing in recurring monthly revenue for services.

HaaS sounds an awful lot like leasing. There is one difference though – with Ingram’s program, solution providers bundle the cost of technical labour into the overall price.

And this, ultimately, is what could make it appealing to solution providers, since they don’t have to float the cost of the hardware for the length of the service contract. So far, Ingram hasn’t had a lot of demand for HaaS. But it’s never had a formal program in place before either.

What the market’s been waiting for is a solid HaaS offering. Ingram is fulfilling that need, though the number of solution providers that will probably take advantage of this – at least initially – is pretty small. And financing companies have been nervous about the concept. But if this model takes off, we could see other distributors, as well as vendors themselves, ready to jump on the bandwagon with their own HaaS offerings.

Ottawa managed services platform provider N-able Technologies is also working on a HaaS offering, and according to the company it’s had discussions with Tech Data and IBM Global Financing about building a HaaS program. We could hear more in the next few months on this front.

Rumour has it that Dell is developing a HaaS program after acquiring SilverBack Technologies. The idea would be to bundle managed services into every PC it sells. It’s hard to say whether this would be successful or not, but if so, it could spur more demand – only if Dell is successful, of course, in penetrating the channel.

The problem, though, is that some MSPs don’t know how to explain to their customers how they’ll benefit from HaaS. Or they don’t know how to implement it. But this will change – because, at some point, customers will begin to demand it.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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Vawn Himmelsbach
Vawn Himmelsbach
Is a Toronto-based journalist and regular contributor to IT World Canada's publications.

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