By Cloud Direct • 07 May 2009
Hardware-as-a-Service (HaaS) is another variant on the Everything-as-a-Service trend. It should be self-explanatory - businesses make the use of computer hardware on a pay-as-you-go solution…
I believe the term itself has been around since 2006 coined by Nick Carr, but has been somewhat over-shadowed by the well-known Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) acronym.
If SaaS means ‘No Software' (simply receive the benefits of the software), then HaaS logically means ‘No Hardware' (just make use of hardware).
In reality, the software and the hardware described above still exist - they are simply located and/or owned by specialist providers - who are then responsible for ensuring that they ‘just work'.
Examples of SaaS are plentiful: Salesforce.com, Gmail...and our own online backup service (which might also be called Storage-as-a-Service).
Amazon's S3 and EC3 are examples where customers can simply rent pay-as-you-go use of servers-in-the-sky. This form of HaaS is also commonly known as Cloud Computing or cloud-based HaaS if you like.
Arrays of hardware are owned, housed and managed by Amazon (other vendors including Google, Microsoft, etc are all entering this market.). The most obvious use such services is website hosting - partly acting as a replacement for today's dedicated or virtual hosting (virtual hosting is simply where multiple customers use the same setup - as opposed to a dedicated setup).
Anyone with short-term or variable capacity requirements might also want to consider cloud-based HaaS as an alternative to purchasing hardware.
Another emerging form of HaaS is a re-incarnation of traditional hardware leasing for normal office use e.g. business servers, networking equipment, desktops - let's call this on-premise HaaS.
If a customer is looking to outsource the management of its data backup or the support of its computer network - then it might make sense to also ‘rent' the equipment on which it runs.
On-premise HaaS could make sense for a business when a network refresh is required. This then serves the dual benefit of removing any capital expenditure hits from the customer when they need to upgrade, and ensuring that the hardware is easily supportable by the outsourced provider.
HaaS has existed for decades under different names. But the current form is easy to understand and seems less scary than traditional financial terms such as leasing, contract-hire, etc.
Backup Direct has a mixture of bought hardware and HaaS for its own office functions
Backup Direct has some traditionally purchased office hardware - mainly PCs and some networking equipment. But we also have on-premise and cloud-based HaaS (all procured before the acronyms were known).
Some office staff use ‘smart clients' instead of PCs (these are like thin-clients, but they do more) - which we rent from an external provider per user per month. We also rent various dedicated servers for email, intranet and applications - that sit in secure data-centres (not strictly in the ‘cloud', but effectively the same end-benefit is received). Both these sets of hardware are fully managed - we simply pay per user per month.
Would we consider renting all our equipment in the future, having had experience of both?
Definitely maybe! It would depend on who the supplier was (trust, stability, know-how) and, importantly, the price.
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