Can Google Take Hardware as a Service (HaaS) Mainstream?

Google Chromebooks remain set for launch on June 15. The low-cost notebook and netbook devices run Google's Chrome OS, working closely with Google Apps. But here's the really interesting part: Google is also preparing to launch Chromebook for Business -- which essentially is a hardware as a service (HaaS) plan for enterprise customers. Here are the details, plus the potential implications for managed services providers (MSPs).

The Chromebooks for Business plan will cost $28 per user per month for business, and $20 per user per month for academic users. The plan includes a combination of hardware (Chromebooks from Samsung and/or Acer), Google Apps and Google service and support. Some Google channel team members call the Chromebooks for business plan a HaaS strategy. There's also talk of Google launching a major consulting arm, though Google PR declines to comment about such speculation.

Will Google Chromebooks for Business succeed or fail? That may not matter. Instead, MSPs should focus on the fact that HaaS discussions will soon go mainstream. As Google promotes Chromebooks for Business, it will be a natural opportunity for VARs and MSPs to discuss financing, leasing, ownership, CAPEX and OPEX strategies with their SMB customers.

No doubt, some MSPs are already on the HaaS bandwagon. ARRC Technology, an MSP in Southern California, ultimately launched a sister business (CharTec) to promote HaaS to peer VARs and MSPs. CharTec later this week will celebrate the expansion of its headquarters. Meanwhile, Equus has also been striving to build out a HaaS business practice, and distributors are now considering HaaS strategies to complement emerging cloud strategies.

The ultimate goal: Deliver IT as a Service to end-customers that are willing to play a flat monthly fee for everything -- hardware, software, services and support.

MSPmentor will be watching to see if Google Chromebooks for Business takes HaaS into mainstream markets, potentially paving the way for channel partners to discuss complete IT as a Service options with their customers.

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