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Is Devices-as-a-Service the future of workplace IT?

New service is aimed at helping companies do a better job of meeting staff demand for an increasingly broad mix of PCs, mobile computers and other devices found in the modern workplace.

The first HP ZBook 15
Image: HP Inc.
HP Inc. has launched a service to buy and manage fleets of PCs, phones, tablets and other devices for firms.

Companies will be able to sign up for a HP Device-as-a-Service (DaaS) contract that will see the HP purchase, deploy, manage and dispose of the business' fleet of PCs and other devices.

The service is aimed at helping companies do a better job of providing and looking after the increasingly broad mix of PCs, mobile computers and other devices found in the modern workplace.

"Diversity of mobile devices is literally the new corporate standard," said Lionel Lamy, associate VP with analyst house IDC.

Under the subscription service, firms pay HP a fixed price per seat over a multi-year period, with no up-front costs.

Support can be tailored to the firm and devices are refreshed at regular intervals, the length of which depends on the type of machine and the end user.

Aimed at larger enterprises, the DaaS offering will cover PCs, tablets and phones, but also more specialised computing devices such as thin clients and point-of-sale systems.

A handful of HP customers have been using the DaaS offering for a couple of years ahead of today's global launch.

Engineering firm Siemens has been using the DaaS to manage PCs from procurement through to disposal. The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf also uses the service to provide retail systems to its stores, with HP providing point-of-sale systems, peripherals, locked-down software and handling data destruction and device refresh.

For firms, said Lamy, the benefits of the devices as a service model are that it allows numbers of deployed devices to be scaled with demand, for devices to be better matched to staff needs, it transfers the financial burden from Capex to Opex and reduces workload for in-house IT.

"The workplace is under pressure from all sides. Support is multi-device and multi-platform, so why would want to do it for yourself," he said.

HP's offering includes a service designed to optimize the performance of the devices and better match hardware to staff.

This is done via "lightweight" software that sits on the device and collects data about the machine's performance. This data is then fed into a HP analytics platform and used to infer how well the fleet of devices is performing for the company.

Bill Avey, general manager and global head of Personal System Services at HP, gave the example of how the service could monitor battery life on a laptop and automatically order a replacement before its lifespan significantly diminished.

Another example might be monitoring processor usage, to see whether a worker needed a more or less powerful machine, he said.

"IT is getting more and more demands on them, in terms of the devices that end users want to have," said Avey.

While the cost of a HP DaaS contract is fixed up front, a substantial change in the needs of a company can result in these charges having to be renegotiated — though Avey said HP would allow companies some leeway.

The service is available both direct from HP and indirectly from HP's channel partners.

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About Nick Heath

Nick Heath is chief reporter for TechRepublic. He writes about the technology that IT decision makers need to know about, and the latest happenings in the European tech scene.

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