First a little background:
What is hardware as a service (HaaS)?: Here, the MSP deploys fresh PCs and infrastructure to the end-customer. The MSP typically lines up financing to manage all the hardware refreshes. Customers pay the MSP a set monthly fee for that hardware. The potential downside: If the end-customer defaults on the hardware payments, the MSP is left carrying the debt. Also, repossessing all that hardware could be difficult if the customer goes out of business and locks his or her doors.
What is hardware as a rental (HaaR)?: This model is nearly the same, except that the lender carries the debt. If the end-customer goes out of business or defaults on payments, the lender -- rather than the MSP -- carries the risk.
HaaS Hits and Misses
HaaS was supposed to revolutionize the IT channel several years ago -- creating a world of "everything as a service" for the end customer. That reality hasn't quite materialized for a few reasons. The reasons: PC makers already offer traditional financing programs, and branded HaaS programs would have involved yet another marketing initiative in a contracting market.
Some boutique HaaS providers like CharTec continue to engage and train MSPs. But a key rival faced ethical and financial questions back in 2010, and wound up in court.
Rise of HaaR?
Still, anecdotal evidence suggests the HaaR model is catching on. Just ask GreatAmerica, a privately held financing company that works with roughly 1,200 VARs, MSPs and resellers. Of those, roughly 450 partners leverage GreatAmerica's HaaR services, according to Senior VP and General Manager Greg VanDeWalker.
GreatAmerica promoted its HaaR initiatives last week at IT Nation 2015. But this isn't a one-time channel initiative. The 485-person company has 63,000 bundle contracts, and 94 percent of the assets on GreatAmerica's books involve office technology like phones, servers,desktops, switches, copiers, printers and routers. There are also signs that GreatAmerica and CharTec are working together on HaaR deals for MSPs.