Hardware as a Service (Podcast)

On this episode of Tech Tuesday, Dave Hodgdon talks with John Maher about hardware as a service (HaaS). He explains how HaaS works and talks about other as a service models in the IT world. Then, he outlines how HaaS gives businesses peace of mind and saves them money on replacement and maintenance costs.

Portsmouth Computer Group · Hardware as a Service

John Maher: Welcome to Tech Tuesday brought to you by PCG, a managed services and security provider in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. I’m John Maher. With me today from PCG is Dave Hodgdon. Welcome Dave.

Dave Hodgdon: Good morning, John.

What Is Hardware as a Service?

John: So Dave, today, we’re talking about hardware as a service, or HaaS, H-A-A-S. Can you tell me a little bit about that and what it is?

Dave: Hardware as a service or the big buzzword out there is HaaS, H-A-A-S. It’s a procurement model that is similar to leasing or licensing in which the hardware belongs to the managed service provider, meaning us at PCG, or we’re also known as MSP.

It’s installed at the site and there’s a service level agreement known as an SLA that defines the responsibilities of both parties. So similar to why you might have your Comcast cable modem at your house… they’re responsible that it’s on, it’s working to run your TV, your internet, your phone. If it fails, Comcast shows up in their truck and they replace it.

Without that device, you’ll have no services. Big day, like a Patriots game, or you’re trying to get on the internet, you can’t work. It’s frustrating. It’s nice to have that service level agreement that they were able to show up and resolve that problem.

John: Right. And that Comcast modem doesn’t belong to me, it belongs to them. If I cancel my service, I have to give that back to them.

Dave: Correct.

Advantages of HaaS for Businesses

John: Right. So why would a business want to use a HaaS solution for their business?

Dave: One of the most important things is cash flow, keeping their money in the bank. There’s very low upfront costs. A lot of times you might not be planning for HaaS, but there’s something wrong or something broke, your firewall or your switch or your server failed. You didn’t really have it in the budget to replace this hardware right away.

When you’re a business of any size, you will know how important it’s to manage your cash flow. There may be a time when you need to invest in other parts of your business, John, to run things better. You’re not really thinking about IT and it’s not in your budget.

Buying hardware outright could be expensive and it could cost money to maintain it and you might outgrow it. Sometimes in the old days, when you bought a server, you really spec’d it out because you didn’t want to replace it for six, seven years. The cloud has really changed that, in that you pay for what you use and you never want to under-buy your hardware. So having that HaaS model is a great direction for business to look at.

HaaS Helps Businesses Save Money on Replacement Costs and Maintenance

Dave: Some other key components are standards. Obsolescence is huge right there. Technology is changing at such a fast pace, so having always that standard in place allows me to stay competitive. With technology changing and keeping up with these changes, it’s a headache. If you don’t stay current, some of your systems can go down. You might experience some security flaws, performance on your hardware, it can’t be supported to help your users out.

Another key component is just not being responsible for the maintenance. I just don’t need to think about it. I don’t need to worry about it. I know I have coverage. If the unit fails, it’s going to be replaced. I think from an accounting standpoint, it’s an operational expense, OPEX. It’s a predictable monthly fee. I know what it is.

HaaS Gives Businesses Worry-Free Access to Hardware

John: Right? Absolutely. So tell me a little bit more about some of the benefits for a business in using a HaaS model.

Dave: Typically the MSP, like us here at PCG are putting the right hardware in place from a standard to meet the requirements so you don’t need to worry about the hardware. There’s always renewals, there’s licensing, there’s maintenance. Technology’s always changing. Keeping it up to date. What makes me sleep at night is just having peace of mind knowing that it’s running, that they can focus on their business and their goals.

They don’t have to worry about budgeting, replacing, or downtime. It’s about keeping your employees online, John, and staying productive. A lot of technology is very specialized. You don’t have to have staff that are specialized to keep something up.

Business in today’s world has shifted with COVID, a lot of things have changed related to how you run your business, not only the business, remote workforce, or in the cloud. HaaS gives me scalability. I’m just not stuck. I’m going to buy this car. A lot of people lease their car. They don’t want to be into a car for eight, nine years. So they lease it. They know how they’re going to use it, their charges, and when they’re done, they move on to the next car. It gives you the ability to support where you’re at now, but also to grow. It’s an easy upgrade path. And staying on the cutting edge is good.

HaaS really allows you to invest in the hardware, John, for your business to continue thriving. One great example is how people use the cloud. In the old days, you really had to spec out the server to meet X criteria if you wanted it to last for six or seven years. Now, today with cloud storage, it allows you to achieve your offsite data. You pay for what you need. You don’t need to buy this big box to support your data storage. You don’t know how much you’re going to grow, how many files you’ll need to store, and that that’s sometimes a tough business decision, what to put in place. But your data is in the cloud. They know they’re supporting it. About 90% of organizations now are using the cloud and that’s a great way of how they’re using it as a service, cloud as a service. They’re using the cloud for their data

How Is HaaS Helpful for Companies Without Internal IT Teams?

John: Is HaaS, or hardware as a service, especially important for companies that maybe don’t have an internal IT person who’s there, who’s checking all of the equipment all of the time and saying, “Hey this is getting old. We need to replace this now”? Because you don’t have somebody maybe in-house dealing with that, it’s best to have this hardware as a service model?

Dave: That’s a great reason there, John, because having that specialized IT person can be expensive and unnecessary… Instead, with HaaS, you can put the pressure back on your IT provider, your MSP. We have the knowledge to deal with that. We’re constantly evaluating what’s the right product because it’s a service we’re putting in place. If it fails on us, we’re letting our client down, we are letting ourselves down, and the hook is on us. It’s not helping us to have failed stuff out there. We want to make sure what we’re putting in place. We don’t need to worry about it. It’s running and it’s meeting the business, the needs, the goals, and outcomes.

Types of Hardware Used in HaaS

John: So can you give me some examples of HaaS and what are some of the devices that people can get through a HaaS model?

Dave: This whole Hardware as a Service “HaaS” model has exploded in the last five years. Every day there’s a new acronym out there. But HaaS, again, stands for hardware as a service. There’s many things this can be. FaaS, F-A-A-S, is a firewall as a service. A DaaS, a D-A-A-S, is a device as a service. IaaS is infrastructure as a service. There’s even printer as a service. There’s your backup as a service. There’s cloud as a service.

Many companies have this in place right now. Typically their business provider owns the modem and the edge that gets out the unit. They manage it. They verify it’s up and it’s on your bill. They’re used to doing it. I think by the business relying on the provider of having the hardware up and running is something they just don’t need to worry about.

Pretty much this whole HaaS environment is coming into play. It’s really growing. It’s one of the fastest growing markets, John, because cash is king right now. Hold onto it. You’re not sure how business is going. Why invest in something? Hopefully you’re not going to go out of business. But why own all these assets? Just do it as a service.

What Is Device as a Service?

John: You mentioned device as a service. Would that encompass PCs and laptops and mobile phones, things like that?

Dave: Phones, tablets, the cell phone. A lot of people, because they’re working from home or want to save money instead of making the big upfront investment, think, “Well, let me just do a device as a service.”

How Should Businesses Decide If They Should Use HaaS?

John: So how does a business know whether or not HaaS is right for them?

Dave: It comes back to technology planning. Where do I stand? What assets are aging or at the end of their life? Where am I noticing some performance issues? Am I doing some expansion or acquisitions that my current infrastructure can’t support, John? As a business, you’re not looking just to spend money to spend it, but you need to consider where IT can come into play for better performance and reliability.

Maintenance is a huge cost. According to ZDNet, 20% of companies are affected by ransomware. When your hardware isn’t well maintained, you’re more vulnerable for attacks. So by having better equipment and standards in place, you’re improving your security posture.

What HaaS Solutions Does PCG Offer to Clients?

John: What HaaS solutions does PCG itself offer to your clients?

Dave: It seems, John, each month we’re heading to a new one, but we partner with many major manufacturers that provide a wide array of services. Meraki, they’re owned by Cisco. So we do the firewall as a service or infrastructure as a service. HP servers would be server as a service. With today’s growth and needing many servers, that’s helpful for businesses… In the old days, you might have a server to run your line of business applications, your terminal server, and your exchange server.

The big buzzword today is virtual. So that box can become very expensive and you’re not sure what you might need or not. So spending 30,000 or 40,000 on a server without ensuring what the outcome will be in three or four years, can be risky. To me, you’d be smarter to do a file server as a service and pay for what you need to use. A lot of times you’re moving that to Microsoft Azure. You’re paying for what you need. Wireless as a service is becoming huge recently. The backup as a service. Because those are all expensive devices and it’s nice to only pay for what you want.

From the client’s end, PCG is now on the hook. It’s up to us to deal with the vendor, deal with the issues. If anything’s end of life, it’s our job to keep it up, deal with any bugs or issues. Just constantly making sure that’s the right product for them. I think what the client gets out of it, they have standards in place, they have state of art technology, they have someone watching their IT to enhance their security position. It gives them a great outcome at the end of the day.

HaaS Versus Buying Hardware

John: So can you tell me a little bit about why you think that the HaaS solution might be better for businesses than making a purchase of hardware?

Dave: Every business is different, John. From my perspective, you’ve got to look at what the business is doing. What are the business goals? Where do they see technology helping them? Is there a budget in place? Are there certain obstacles that are holding them back? Get a good view for what’s there. Once you have that technology and plan, now we can work.

At this point, the clients might say, we need a new firewall. Hey, our server’s at the end of its life, Hey, we really want to get tablets on our vehicles for maintenance. Hey, we’re really looking at finding a better backup strategy. Now comes that time to have that conversation with the customer, “Here’s the price to buy a server, 20K, or we can move that to an as a service at $500 a month. It gives you the ability to scale.”

It really comes back to the business of the operating expense versus the capital expense. If we can save money, keeping the bank is good. There are huge constraints right now, John, in inventory and prices are going up dramatically right now with everything, not just in IT. You see it everywhere. I think the HaaS model gets you in a better position of knowing I have it. It’s being taken care of. I don’t have to worry about it. Because even buying stuff from our end right now, sometimes we’re waiting two, three months to get a product. With HaaS, it locks in your fees. You know what you’re doing.

This will improve your security posture with newer technology in place. You’re less likely to have a cyber breach. If there’s an issue, there’s a plan. There’s a timeline that PCG’s on the hook to take care of it for me. They’ll put a loaner in. I want to be up and running. I just don’t have to worry about it. With hardware as a service, you enjoy a wealth of benefits from staying up to date with the latest technologies, balancing your cash flow, and each one of these can help you grow your business.

Contact PCG to Learn More About HaaS Today

John: All right. Well, that’s really great information, Dave. Thanks again for speaking with me today.

Dave: My pleasure.

John: For more information, you can visit the PCG website at or call 603-431-4121.