Device as a service (DaaS): The future of business hardware

One of the big reasons businesses might delay a much-needed migration to Windows 10 is the lack of funds for a full hardware refresh. The CapEx budget simply doesn't stretch that far.

Device-as-a-Service (DaaS) eliminates that up-front cost and brings many other advantages for over-stretched IT departments. And its appeal isn't confined to companies facing a big migration, either - DaaS really could be the way most businesses buy hardware in the future.

What is DaaS?

In much the same way we've grown used to buying software-as-a-service - paying a monthly fee instead of an upfront lump sum - it's now possible to do the same for hardware. Many companies will already lease hardware from a supplier, but DaaS is more than a fancy new name for leasing.

Depending on the supplier and the package you choose, DaaS can also include extras such as inventory monitoring, network analytics, security and compliance reporting, remote device wiping and software patch management. It's a complete hardware management package, not just the hardware itself.

What are the advantages of DaaS?

The chief advantage for businesses is financial. Although Windows 10 should still run comfortably on Windows 7 era hardware, that hardware will now be reaching end-of-life and most IT departments would prefer to deploy new OSes on fresh hardware.

That becomes a CapEx headache, with companies not only forced to find the money for the hardware investment but also to account for the depreciation of that hardware from the moment it arrives on employees' desks. In the past, companies may have ended up tying themselves to expensive finance packages to afford such refreshes.

DaaS shifts that cost from the CapEx to the OpEx column on the financial controller's spreadsheet. A big migration doesn't require a huge up-front outlay, but is instead spread over the duration of the contract. For a company that has hundreds or even thousands of devices to migrate, that can be the difference between getting the green light or not.

It's not only companies who are facing big migrations that could benefit from DaaS. Start-up companies don't need to burn through valuable seed capital by ploughing up-front investment into hardware - they can pay for what they need, with the flexibility to scale quickly when required.

DaaS also demolishes the problem of dealing with end-of-life hardware. The onus and cost of securely disposing of that hardware falls on the supplier, not your IT department. Meanwhile, all the hardware in the business is kept fresh, with no risk of devices falling behind the requirements of the latest operating systems or business-critical applications.

The DaaS difference

What sets DaaS apart from a traditional leasing plan or finance package is all the extras that come with it. It's a complete management platform for your Windows hardware, not just an alternative financing deal.

Firstly, a good DaaS provider should be able to support a range of devices so that you can tailor allocated hardware to your employees' specific needs. For example, HP's DaaS offering allows you to choose a device mix that suits your business, with a wide selection of commercial notebooks, desktops, mobile and specialised devices. (While we're on this topic, don't confuse Device-as-a-Service with Desktop-as-a-Service, which are two different things - the latter being the provision of virtual desktops to your hardware.)

The DaaS provider should not only lift the burden of procurement off your IT department's shoulders, but ongoing management, too. Next-day breakdown replacements, accidental damage protection and even data recovery are services that are offered by DaaS providers, ensuring business isn't massively disrupted if supplied hardware fails.

Some of the more tedious, time-consuming IT management jobs should also be handled by your DaaS provider. Hardware and software inventory management, compliance reports and even the handling of end-user support calls are among the services on offer. Your DaaS provider may even be able to help with remote assistance and password recovery, meaning your IT team isn't bogged down with calls to its own helpline. You should also be able to configure custom images that are deployed across your company, in much the same way you might if you were managing your own hardware deployment.

This allows your IT department to break free from the day-to-day drudge work and focus on what they should be doing: working out how best to boost your business with technology. With DaaS, IT becomes less of a service department and more the strategic planning department it arguably always should have been.

Then there are the security benefits of moving to DaaS. Many providers will offer fleet management services, allowing you to locate and remotely lock missing devices. If a laptop is reported stolen, your DaaS provider's dashboard may allow you to sound an alarm on the device or remotely wipe any sensitive data stored on it, ensuring all the thieves get their hands on is the device itself.

The final benefit is related to the problem that may drive many companies to consider DaaS in the first place: keeping everything up to date. DaaS providers will not only replace hardware when it reaches end of life, but keep the software running on those devices up-to-date too. DaaS providers can look after Windows patch management, ensuring that devices aren't exposed to security flaws or missing new features. Some DaaS providers will also keep third-party software updated, ensuring your critical business applications don't fall several versions behind the current update.

You might consider DaaS as a means of making a Windows 10 migration or a regular hardware refresh more affordable in the short-term. But the long-term cost and business benefits that DaaS offers could have a much greater impact on your business.

Learn more about HP DaaS