Hardware as a Service (Haas) may not be a term you’re familiar with, but as an MSP it’s worth considering if it’s something you could offer your clients.
To gain an understand of HaaS, it’s useful to consider the Software as a Service (SaaS) equivalent; A few years ago, the vast majority of companies paid for all of their software on a “up-front” basis – i.e. 100 copies / licenses of a software product at $x each.
Today, a lot of software is instead purchased on the SaaS model. Instead of buying software outright, businesses pay a monthly subscription fee to use the software.
Usually this allows them to use the most up-to-date version of a product.
This SaaS model spreads to all kinds of software, from fully Web-based CRM systems to locally installed Office products for those using Microsoft’s Office 365. In recent years, even Adobe’s comprehensive Creative Suite software is available on a SaaS subscription model, known as Creative Cloud.
With all this in mind, it’s no surprise that Hardware as a Service has become a trend too. Companies are becoming used to paying monthly for more and more of their IT provision – so why not extend this to hardware?
You’re probably thinking that this model is effectively hardware leasing, and it would be a fair comparison. But offering HaaS as an MSP involves slightly more. Typically, if you offer HaaS, you will supply the physical equipment, and be responsible for its monitoring and maintenance. You then roll in supplementary services such as online backup and security protection and come up with a monthly fee.
If providing HaaS is something you think would appeal to your clients, you should consider the two main ways you can do so:
There’s nothing to say you cannot provide HaaS independently. You could purchase the equipment, install, configure and maintain it, and establish a profitable monthly service fee for doing so.
This approach has a distinct disadvantage, however, in that you will need a vast amount of capital to cover the up-front purchase of client kit. Few MSPs will have the budget to supply entire client offices, even if after two or three years they are able to recoup far more than the initial outlay. This approach also carries risk if clients are unable to pay at some point in the future.
On the other hand, after making a profit on equipment, you still own it, and can potentially make more money selling it later.
By working with manufacturers and larger firms, you can still offer HaaS, but arrange your services so that you don’t need to finance the physical hardware up front. This minimizes your risk, but does potentially limit your profits.
While Hardware as a Service is unlikely to become as mainstream as its software equivalent, it’s an area that could stand you out from competition. An entire IT infrastructure for $xxx per month is a proposition that’s easy for potential customers to understand. Find a way to finance it and profit from it, and you could be onto a winner.