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Dell Blends PC as a Service, Security and VMware Airwatch

During my time as an IT service provider, one of the biggest struggles we had was trying to get business owners to upgrade outdated technology. They sometimes didn't see the benefit of dumping somewhat functional computers and spending a ton of money on brand new ones.

Somewhere along the way, those customers gradually got hooked on software subscription services. Amid the shift from CapEx to OpEx, those customers become less concerned with "technology ownership." Now those cloud and subscription service trends are repeating themselves in the hardware market, where Desktop-as-a-Service and PC-as-a-Service programs are gaining in popularity.

Dell Expands Desktop as a Service

These days most of the biggest players in the PC market are already offering PCaaS, including Dell. This week Dell expanded its PCaaS portfolio and related service offerings.

According to Dell, the newly announced features include:

  • PCaaS Services Delivery Manager: The manager is the single point of contact for the customer from initial planning to the end of the lifecycle, and coordinates with deployment, support, Dell Financial Services and asset recovery.
  • Flexible Financing: Dell Financial Services provides flexible financing options that include the ability to flex the number of systems up or down and/or upgrade PCs mid-term by up to 5, 10 or 15% within the 36 and 48-month term options.
  • Complete Lifecycle Services: Dell has added asset recovery into the standard PCaaS services offer. Asset recovery enables a simplified return of the old equipment to Dell Financial Services with an option for an on-site data wipe service.

At first glance, the list above screams "direct sales" into enterprises. But take a closer look at Dell Financial Services' ongoing work with partners, and you'll notice plenty of channel-designed opportunities within.

PC Security, Management Services

The company also has expanded the software options available for PCaaS customers to help protect, secure and manage their investment. These options include:

  • Dell Endpoint Security Suite Enterprise for file-based data encryption and advanced threat prevention.
  • VMware AirWatch for modern, over-the-air unified endpoint management.
  • Absolute Data and Device Security for asset tracking and adaptive endpoint security.

If you aren't quite sold on the entire lifecycle management process, Dell is also introducing a more customized solution called Windows 10 Provisioning by AirWatch. This solution features the integration of AirWatch unified endpoint management (UEM) technology, which powers the VMware Workspace ONE digital workspace platform and can potentially simplify the deployment of new Dell PCs. It provides a number of self-service options including greater visibility into the status of the device as it's configured, the ability to download approved apps and reset passwords, possibly reducing the need to contact the helpdesk.

Unique to Dell, AirWatch also integrates with Dell Client Command Suite, allowing firmware settings to be configured from the cloud as part of the zero-touch provisioning process. These settings can then be updated or changed over-the-air in real time. This will allow IT managers to control the devices beyond what they can see within the operating system, remotely. It can give them access to power management, battery and system health and BIOS settings. This insight can help spot problems before they arise, leaving very little downtime for the user.

Hardware as a Service (or Rental): HaaS or HaaR

As-a-Service hardware offerings appear to be here to stay. Additional options include GreatAmerica’s Hardware as a Rental; HP Inc.’s Device as a Service; Microsoft Surface as a Service; and Ingram Micro’s Technology as a Service, just to name a few.

I predict we will see even more options arise over the next few years. In many cases, it just makes sense, especially for something as rapidly changing as technology.

Additional insights from Joe Panettieri.