Zoom launches Hardware as a Service with multiple vendor options

The program boosts communication by allowing companies and consumers to use Zoom Rooms- and Zoom Phone-equipped hardware at scale.

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Image: Zoom

Zoom Video Communications announced the launch of its first ever Zoom Hardware as a Service (HaaS) in the US on Tuesday. Zoom HaaS provides technology equipped with Zoom Rooms and Zoom Phone, making the products more accessible and scalable, which is especially critical during the evolving enterprise landscape.

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"Hardware as a Service is even more important in our current situation, with people in a lot of states in a hybrid environment," said Jeff Smith, head of Zoom Rooms. 

"Some [professionals] are heading back to the office, but a lot of people are still remote… Video conferencing becomes more and more important," Smith said. "And in this environment, it was very difficult to plan for, so Hardware as a Service becomes a way for companies to access video conferencing equipment without the need for the upfront cost and planning ahead."

Video conferencing platforms have exploded in usage amid the coronavirus pandemic, with professionals and consumers turning to tech as a way to both conduct business and stay connected. 

Zoom, in particular, witnessed significant growth, with the highest growth rate of 552% between February and April 2020, Aternity found. This latest announcement allows for even easier and more cost-effective access to the platform. 

"This was breaking new ground on a lot of fronts for Zoom. We have evolved for years and years in the hardware ecosystem with conference room equipment, as well as phones, but this was definitely a step forward for us," Smith said. "The ecosystem can be complex to navigate. Here's a real streamline way that they can both procure equipment and understand what they should get."

Major features of Zoom HaaS

The whole concept of "as a service" tech has grown in recent years. As a service programs allow companies or individuals to pay for the product as they go. With Zoom HaaS, for example, customers are able to Zoom video or phone calls with various hardware options at a fixed monthly price. 

"Our program is a multi-vendor program, so we have high quality equipment from DTen, Neat, Poly, as well as Yealink," Smith said. "Competitive programs tend to be limited. What we've tried to do is give the customers choice.

The program promises low upfront costs, predictable budgets, scalable end-to-end device management via the Zoom Admin Portal, streamlined procurement through a single invoice, and simple tech upgrades. 

Customers are able to refresh their equipment as frequently as every three years, keeping both rooms and phones up to date with the latest tech. 

Zoom Video equips users with video conferencing hardware that allows professionals in conference rooms to easily video call with partners or clients on any device. With Zoom Phone, users receive the same device flexibility and frictionless transfers between desk phones to smartphones to computers. 

All hardware options are fully supported by Zoom, covering any initial troubleshooting, refreshes, and Return Merchandise Authorization (RMA) associated with its devices, Smith said. 

"When a customer purchases equipment or when they call support, they're not going to get handed off to different places. During the process, they'll see the tracking of the shipment in their Zoom portal," Smith said. "They don't deal with logistics companies. They don't deal with the manufacturer. They just deal with us, and we take all the complexity out of it."

Through Zoom's hardware partners, Zoom Phone and Zoom Room subscribers can choose from eight and seven different devices, respectively. 

The technology is helpful for customers across industries and locations, whether working for a big company in offices, or a smaller team from home, or a hybrid, Smith noted.

"It is very broadly applicable, but some verticals that come to mind are healthcare and education. [We're] talk[ing] to a lot of higher-ed universities that are looking to enable their classroom for students for the fall school year," Smith said. 

For instructors attempting to teach from home, for example, the video bar is a great hardware option because it can be used right in the instructor's living room, turning the home into a classroom, Smith added. 

"We also talked with a number of hospitals that are trying to deal with quarantine-type use cases," Smith said. "A touch screen, kiosk-style deployment, where I can have a triage station outside of the lobby so that people don't have to come in and mill around in close proximity. These are fantastic cases that have come up and ways that technology can help in the current situation." 

Zoom's HaaS program has been available for customers since July 1, 2020, Smith said, but the company made the formal announcement to the public on Tuesday. 

For more, check out How to use Zoom's advanced sharing options to share more than just your screen on TechRepublic.

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