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UC Hardware-as-a-Service: Knowing Your Options

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Illustration showing mutiples options to follow
Image: Mohamed_Hasson - pixabay.com
In the last two years, the number of options an IT decision maker has for procuring meeting room collaboration equipment has increased notably. These options go by several names — device-as-a-service (DaaS), room-as-a-service (RaaS), or even the more universal hardware-as-a-service (HaaS). In each case, the model is similar to other service-based models, where users rent or lease rather than purchase a UC provider's hardware products. Although the concept isn’t new to many technology buyers, it’s in its infancy for the buyers of UC products, and in particular, buyers of video collaboration equipment.
 

How We Got Here

Five years ago, no one associated the "as-a-service" term with a piece of hardware. At that time, the name was mainly linked with software and was already the de facto terminology for cloud computing technologies. Companies like Saleforce.com built their entire business models exclusively on the SaaS model, extending IT decision makers a host of advantages when purchasing large, expensive software solutions. Some examples of the benefits include better cost management, more financial flexibility to scale the technology, and some degree of future-proofing by aligning support and upgrade expectations to the perpetual characteristic that defines the SaaS business model.
 
Then the hardware vendors wanted to join the party. In 2016, HP and Microsoft rolled out DaaS offers to extend many of the same benefits of the software version to hardware. Now, an IT decision maker could view desktops, laptops, phones, and tablets as scalable assets with subscription-oriented payment models.
 
To be fair, there have been some forms of as-a-service hardware offerings in the UC space for a while. Cloud PBX providers like RingCentral and 8x8 have been offering lease programs on phones even before the 2016 HP and Microsoft offerings. And, vendors like Cisco and Poly have had some form of capital leasing with specific contract terms targeted to large customers.
 
However, within the videoconferencing segment, standardized turnkey offerings have only started to appear in force in the last year or so. Driven by the rise of cloud-based videoconferencing services, HaaS seems to be a logical step in aligning the OPEX business models of services-attached videoconferencing with the underlying hardware needed in the conference rooms.
 

Notable HaaS Trends

Two market trends are creating an environment prime for offers like HaaS to find success in the market. These are the rise of services-attached videoconferencing and the expansion of videoconferencing into smaller rooms.
 
The Shift Toward Services-attached Videoconferencing
Customers are finding their way to services-attached room-based video solutions such as Microsoft Teams Rooms, Cisco Webex Rooms, Zoom Rooms, LogMeIn GoToRoom, and Google Hangouts Meet Hardware, Lifesize meeting room offerings, and others, for a variety of reasons. But, one consistent characteristic of these models is the consumption of the video capability as a service versus as a one-time license embedded in the hardware. All good, but these customers still need the hardware to run these services-attached offerings. Many will buy it outright, but some will find this prohibitive and will look for similar consumption models for the equipment.
 
Expansion of Video to Smaller Rooms
In recent years, we’ve seen a significant shift from large conference room deployment toward smaller rooms. Video, as a workload, is leaving the limited uses cases needed by the C-suite and is becoming more accessible for all knowledge workers. Couple this with the noticeable adoption of personal video in UC solutions and room-based video continues its drive of becoming more ubiquitous in the corporate campus.
 
One outcome of this increase in the number of videoconferencing systems within an organization is greater complexity of and time required for maintaining the hardware. How old is the gear? Do we have spares in-house if a component breaks? Is the support contract up to date? The tasks related to this lifecycle management are time-consuming and low yield in terms of IT productivity. IT decision makers could save costs and increase value by simplifying or outsourcing these tasks.
 
Both trends can create uncomfortable road bumps when deploying videoconferencing. Interestingly, neither one is genuinely resolvable by a product feature. Nope — the root problem here is how to remove friction related to hardware procurement and lifecycle management. This is where HaaS steps in to help out.
 
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