Guest Column | September 19, 2012

HaaS: The Next Step In Your MSP Business Evolution

Selling HaaS (hardware as a service) solutions can help you overcome your customers’ resistance to large capital investments, while also ensuring they never need to worry about aging hardware.

As a Haas (hardware as a service) vendor, what kind of client would you typically look for?

Our Service Providers who are offering HaaS to their customers are among our typical customers, but they tend to have already embraced the Cloud business model in some way.  They are usually already offering monthly-billed service and have begun to shift their business to smaller upfront payments that pay more over time.  They are also usually offering or are interested in offering Software as a Service. These partners tend to present their product offerings to their customer in terms of complete custom solutions and treat the hardware as a key enabler.  That said, they still want to try to make money on the hardware aspect of their service offerings and are looking for a way to differentiate.

How do you broach the discussion with potential clients?

We encourage our partners to look for the following when approaching their clients about Haas:

  • When it’s time for a major technology refresh or expansion into a new offering
  • If these partners are already offering managed services and SaaS
  • If there is seasonality in their clients' business where a down shift in the future seems necessary
  • If they are interested in shifting from break-fix to positive relationship around maintenance
  • We also encourage our partners to talk to the CEO not just the CIO

HaaS is a natural next step for our partners who have already made the shift to an MSP model or are recommending SaaS solutions to their customers.  When partners worry (or complain) about their customers moving toward the cloud, we draw their attention to the program and point out key benefits.  Among these are benefits for customers who have seasonal business that might have spikes and lulls in their resources needs.  We also talk about the change in relationship that takes place when they are working with their customers on a monthly maintenance basis rather than a break-fix only basis when the customer only sees them when there is a problem.  Finally, we point out that HaaS model also tends to lead to discussions about solutions with a company’s CEO rather than just a tech discussion with the IT lead.

When it comes to traditional IT purchases, which ones make the most sense to start with (PCs? Servers? What else?).

We see our MSP customers deploying the full spectrum of devices under the HaaS model including notebook & desktop clients, server hardware and accessories.  We think that HaaS makes particularly good sense for higher dollar assets like servers because the lower upfront monthly cost of HaaS allows end customers to deploy more capable infrastructure than they otherwise have been able to afford.  At the same time, client systems work well with the HaaS model because the equipment is refreshed every 36 months, keeping our MSPs’ customers up to date and in line with natural refresh cycles while keeping costs constant.

What’s the biggest mistake MSPs make when trying to sell Haas?

The MSP business model should push to focus a customer on a valuable service that Service Providers are delivering.  When the end customer is focused on desired business outcomes instead of a big dollar transaction with lots of expensive hardware and software, it frees up the Service Provider to really tailor the solution to exactly what the customer needs with the exact customized hardware needed to do the job right.  The customer is happy because they are getting the business outcome they need at a reasonable monthly price and the MSP is pleased because they can put together a better solution without cutting corners.