The term software as a service (SaaS) is often used to describe cloud computing, where you pay a monthly charge to use software instead of making a one-off purchase. Businesses commonly use software as a service for things like business accounting and customer relationship management.
Now news has reached us that IT support firm Inbay has decided to offer hardware as a service (HaaS). The company claims it will free businesses from the burden of capital investment in IT by wrapping hardware, software, labour and support into a monthly fee-based package.
Everything by the month
In short, you can pay by the month for virtually all your business IT. This model could be particularly attractive to companies which need new IT equipment but can't afford to invest a lump sum. It also shifts more of your IT costs into your operating expenses, which - for most businesses - are wholly tax deductable.
One monthly payment, all your IT sorted. Sounds good, right?
Well, there are some possible drawbacks, the most significant of which is the potential for loss of control. With a single IT supplier to deal with, you always know exactly who to call when you need help or something goes wrong. But you also have to place complete faith in them.
You don't own anything
What's more, hardware as a service raises the prospect that your business could own virtually none of its IT. Effectively, you rent your computers, servers and other equipment. Perfectly fine, as long as you keep up the payments. But what happens if your IT supplier runs into difficulties of its own?
Hardware as a service is certainly worthy of consideration if your business is considering an investment in new IT. But as with any other big purchasing decision, take your time evaluating different options and find a supplier you're comfortable working with.
John McGarvey is editor of the IT Donut
Hardware as a service - just pay for what you use? (Image: William Clifford on Flickr)