Definition

device as a service

Contributor(s): Matthew Haughn

Device as a service (DaaS) is the offering of PCs, smartphones and other mobile computing devices as a paid service. DaaS eases the IT needs of a company by way of outsourcing the hardware, software and management of the equipment to external providers. Subscribing to a DaaS provider would allow an organization to scale up and down physical devices as needed and update to newer hardware more frequently and quickly without much strain on the organization itself.

More devices are being offered under DaaS, each with hardware lifecycle management services included. Software and hardware management services include device backups, asset tracking, security and end of life disposal. Devices offered as a service include hardware such as PCs, laptops, desktops, tablets, 2-in-ones or mobile phones.

Besides IT organizations that can make use out of DaaS offerings, other structures such as schools can use DaaS, where school boards can order the same amount of computers or tablets as they have students.  

DaaS services begin with a contract with a DaaS vendor that states the hardware, software, services, amounts and lengths of time required. Payment is normally on a per-device basis. Some OEMs will have a DaaS offering and will offer a somewhat limited number of choices from their overall device lineup. Users cannot replace hardware they are using from a DaaS vendor at any time they wish. Typically, a contract will state two to three year timelines for replacing devices.

When using a DaaS service, devices will typically come with the software the organization needs to use already installed. Usually, a vendor will also include a visible upgrade path for patches and updates.

The DaaS trend has been quick to grow, starting from a meager beginning, with only 1% of PCs being shipped as part of a DaaS in 2014. Based on market research from the firm IDC, DaaS is set to grow to into 12-15% of all desktop and laptop offerings by 2020. While the percent might not seem that high, it encompasses all PC offerings and not just in enterprise. As a new market, the structures and prices of DaaS are continually evolving.

Benefits of DaaS

DaaS can host a variety of benefits, mostly to smaller startup IT organizations. These benefits include:

  • The ability to scale devices up and down as needed.
  • Pushes cost from capital expenditures to operating expenses.
  • Reduces workload on IT staff to configure devices.
  • Automatic management of patches and updates.

Examples of DaaS

Two primary examples of DaaS include offerings from HP and Microsoft. HP offers a DaaS option called HP Device as a Service, which has device options ranging from commercial notebooks, desktops and specialized devices. It has even expanded to offering hardware outside of HP's own hardware such as Apple Macs, iPhones and iPads.

Microsoft has also started its own DaaS initiative, Surface as a Service. Surface as a Service offers organizations Surface products with a monthly subscription model. Microsoft offers options of devices and services such as the Surface Book, Surface Book accessories, Windows 10, Office 365, Customer Support and ISV software.  

Device as a service vs. desktop as a service

Device as a service shares the DaaS acronym with desktop as a service. These two can be confused when using the name or acronym. The difference between the two is in what is being offered as a service. In device as a service, physical hardware is being offered to customers under a subscription model. Desktop as a service is a cloud computing offering where a third party will offer a virtual desktop running inside a virtual machine (VM). The desktop as a service provider will host the backend of a virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) deployment. The operating system will run inside a VM on a server that is being provided by a cloud service. Desktop as a service is paid by the virtual desktops used each month.

This was last updated in July 2019

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