When a global IT distributor like Ingram Micro gets on board the HaaS (Hardware as a Service) bandwagon, you know it’s really on the move. The concept behind Hardware as a Service is that organisations no longer have to own, support or in general worry about the IT hardware that is present on site. Instead, for a monthly fee, they offload all of these aspects onto a managed server provider and can thus redeploy IT staff on strategic business projects and avoid tying up capital. All of which begs the question – how reliable is that?
HaaS is not that new as a concept. Amazon started offering a version to the market when it introduced its Elastic Compute Cloud – although because the computers are in Amazon’s data centre and not on the customer’s site, the solution is also referred to as IaaS, or Infrastructure as a Service. What Ingram Micro has done, following in the footsteps of certain other companies, is to define a service whereby end-customers can still see the computers operating on their own sites, but no longer have to own or support them. The distributor currently works with HP and Lenovo as hardware providers for this service.
HaaS with computers on customer sites mean exposure to the same risks as before, plus the additional risk factor of an external provider. While the solution may appear attractive financially, it is clear that support, back-up and business continuity all need to be defined as well. Among other things, end-customers will need to know exactly where the buck stops if there is a problem. Is it with the managed services reseller that sold the solution or the distributor that created the offering? Or the vendor that made the hardware? Clearly, organisations need to know the answers to these questions before buying the service, rather than after.