PC-as-a-service or PCaaS is a popular business model for managing device lifecycle management. In this, a business pays a monthly subscription for endpoint hardware, software, and management services from a third-party cloud service provider. The service simplifies processes related to managing a personal computer, such as acquiring, managing, upgrading, and refurbishing PCs.
More importantly, PC Services are a way for businesses to turn hefty capital expenditure (CapEx) into manageable operation expenditure (OpEx) by following a monthly payment structure. Instead of investing in high-end infrastructure, PC Services enable businesses to deploy the services of a third-party PCaaS provider for a monthly (or sometimes, yearly) rent.
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What to Know About PCaaS Providers
A typical PCaaS provider, such as Ace Cloud Hosting, would be responsible for the deployment, configuration, data backup, customer support, system upgradation, and overall maintenance. There is also the option of a maintenance contract to fit the specific needs of businesses. This allows an in-house IT team to collaborate with the provider for deployment and management aspects.
Although PC Services are fully managed, this hybrid management approach is gaining popularity. That is because businesses tend to exercise greater control over the infrastructure by having their own IT team on the side.
PC as a Service, Desktop as a Service, and Device as a Service: Similarities and Differences
PC as a Service vs. Desktop as a Service
- Range of Devices
PC as a Service, Desktop as a Service, and Device as a Service follow the managed services model. That is, these services are offered by third-party providers for a fee. As part of such services, the provider typically conducts everything from deployment to upkeep, and both services are geared toward device lifecycle management. The device/s, however, distinguishes the PC as a Service market from the Desktop as a Service market. As the name suggests, PCaaS revolves around personal computers only, while Desktop as a Service covers a range of devices, including PCs and mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets.
But this is not all. One significant difference between the two is that the PC as a Service market involves PC leasing or renting physical hardware. In contrast, Desktop as a Service is a full-blown virtual infrastructure that only calls for software deployments. These software deployments are nothing but the virtual desktops themselves that are hosted on the provider’s cloud servers. These cloud-based virtual desktops are accessed by endpoint devices and can run all operating systems, including Windows, Linux, and Mac, no matter the native device OS. Thus, Desktop as a Service can be viewed as a platform-independent solution. In contrast, PCaaS is just a platform, with every PC tied to a single operating system.
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PCaaS and DaaS cannot be used interchangeably. But they often are. This is because DaaS is also understood as Device as a Service. In this sense, PCaaS is just one category that falls under the rubric of DaaS. Traditionally, cloud service providers leasing out endpoint hardware to businesses offered full-fledged desktops and laptops only. This is where the PCaaS model got its name from. Today, however, devices are no longer limited to laptops and desktops only. With the emergence and growth in popularity of smartphones and tablets, the DaaS trend has taken over the market to incorporate the move to greater agility.
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Desktop as a Service vs. Device as a Service
The dual connotation of DaaS as ‘Desktop as a Service’ and ‘Device as a Service’ can be confusing because they are quite different. PCaaS and Device-as-a-Service take the traditional route to deliver work desktops to clients. They offer physical hardware for office use in exchange for a subscription fee. The hardware on lease comes with all necessary software components such as storage and operating system. As mentioned earlier, Desktop-as-a-Service differs from both because it is a cloud-based service that deploys virtual desktops that can be used anywhere and at any time. It involves no physical hardware, nor is it bound by existing hardware specifications.
Third-party cloud service providers offer all three services. As such, the minutiae of these services largely depend on the service provider. That is why certain aspects of such services are unpredictable and rely on the vendor’s discretion. Nevertheless, these services simplify IT services, and all three services operate with the same goal.
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Why adopt a PCaaS model
PCaaS works best because it offers multiple benefits as a business model. One of its primary benefits is that PCaaS helps businesses scale up and down with changing requirements. To scale up, the IT department must lease more PCs than usual for a specific time. To scale down, during an organization’s reducing number of employees, the IT team leases out PCs from the vendor rather than be stuck with resources the firm no longer needs. However, these scenarios can prove inconvenient to the vendors, which is why a lock-in period is often in play. This ensures that a firm is bound to a certain number of PCs for a specific time within which it can neither lease in more devices nor lease out excessive ones. Also significant is the extension of the lock-in period to cover the event of leasing out of the model itself. As a result, businesses remain confined to the PC as a Service market even after its usefulness has expired.
Easy Upgradation/Device Lifecycle Management
Providers often insist on a lock-in period to ensure that a firm is bound to a certain number of PCs for a specific time within which it can neither lease in more devices nor lease out excessive ones. The expansion of the lock-in term to encompass the case of leasing out of the model itself is also important. As a result, businesses can use the PC as a Service market even after its usefulness has expired. But lock-in or no lock-in, the PCaaS model offers the benefit of upgrading PCs so businesses can keep pace with the latest technology. To do this, the in-house IT team must guarantee that old PCs are swiftly replaced by current endpoint hardware. These PCs can also be traded for the latest ones when the lease expires.
PC as a service implies that lifecycle management and device maintenance responsibilities are that of the vendor. Apart from saving costs and IT hassles, this frees up time for the in-house IT to focus on essential tasks only. Cost reduction through canceling an existing service contract with the device brand is also widespread, as these contracts often cost more than the fully managed PC Services. Thus, this model is helpful for up-and-coming organizations with a small budget. Such organizations benefit from CapEx to OpEx conversion and only pay for hardware subscriptions rather than investing upfront in hardware purchases.
A PCaaS offering includes pre-configured desktops or laptops and full-fledged maintenance services to manage the device lifecycle. Besides installing the operating system and other key software components, the provider is also responsible for upgrading these from time to time, always offering help-desk services, and conducting data recovery protocols at the time of device retirement. With outsourced management of PCs and all related tasks, businesses find PC leasing highly beneficial in reducing the drain on IT resources.
Why avoid a PCaaS model
The primary drawback of the PCaaS is the complications arising from a lease structure. Such issues apply not only to the PCaaS model but to all lease-based businesses. Leasing only implies usage rights, meaning that the organization never comes to own the hardware it uses daily.
While it may suit many businesses to pay a monthly fee for the hardware they can never call their own, others prefer an outright purchase to a long-term financial obligation. It is also true that the prices and other associated costs related to leasing high-performing hardware often add up to more than the cost of purchasing the OCs at the outset.
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