What is PC as a service (PCaaS)?
PC as a service (PCaaS) is a device lifecycle management model in which an organization pays a monthly subscription fee to lease endpoint hardware and management services from a vendor.
PC as a service aims to simplify PC lifecycle management, including purchasing, managing, retiring and refreshing PCs. PCaaS follows an Opex model in which an organization pays a monthly rate to use a vendor's devices and services. This saves IT on the costs of purchasing hardware for users to work with.
The vendor's services can include configuration, help desk support, data backup and recovery, and asset management. Vendors will also often include predictive analytics that can help combat hardware failures and security policy violations and boost security further by inventorying devices and tracking their locations and status.
With most device-as-a-service models, IT can pick the maintenance contract that best fits its needs. The contract can range from a fully managed arrangement where the vendor controls everything to a hybrid approach where the internal IT department manages some aspects of the device deployment.
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How does PCaaS compare to desktop as a service and device as a service?
PCaaS and device as a service are very similar to one another. The main difference between the two is that while PCaaS revolves solely around PCs, device as a service often encompasses a variety of device types such as PCs, tablets and other mobile devices.
Conversely, PCaaS and desktop as a service are significantly different from one another. Desktop as a service is a subscription service in which organizations lease virtual desktops hosted in the cloud. Whereas PCaaS involves leasing physical hardware, desktop-as-a-service leases are purely virtual. Cloud-based virtual machines run desktop operating systems such as Windows 10 or Windows 11 and various desktop applications.
Key benefits of a PCaaS model
There are several potential benefits to using the PCaaS model. One of the main benefits is that PC as a service can help organizations easily scale up or down. For example, if the IT department needs to add more PCs for a specific period, it can lease more devices in a particular month than it does in another month. In addition, if an organization cuts its number of workers, it can simply reduce the number of devices it leases from the vendor rather than being left with a surplus of devices it doesn't need. But it's worth noting that the lease terms may lock an organization into leasing devices for a specific amount of time.
In some cases, the PCaaS model may make it easier for organizations to keep pace with changing technology. Rather than being stuck with aging PCs, organizations can trade in devices for endpoint hardware at the end of the lease.
Another benefit is that PC as a service shifts device lifecycle management responsibilities and device maintenance and repairs to the vendor. This means that IT can offload many of its endpoint management responsibilities. It may also be possible to reduce costs by canceling an existing service contract purchased through a reseller.
PC as a service is also useful for startup organizations with a limited budget. Rather than making a large upfront investment in hardware, these organizations can pay a monthly fee for a hardware subscription.
Main drawbacks of the PCaaS model
The main drawbacks of the PCaaS model are similar to the drawbacks associated with other types of leases. One such drawback is that there is never a point where the organization owns the PC hardware. The organization pays a fee, month after month, for perpetuity. While this model may work for some organizations, others may prefer to make an outright purchase rather than take on a long-term financial obligation.
Another drawback of the PCaaS model is that the subscription price and related fees paid throughout the lease are often more than what the organization would have paid if it had simply purchased the PCs outright.
Top PCaaS vendors
Dell, HPE, Lenovo and Microsoft are among the major vendors in the PCaaS market. However, it is worth noting that the term PC as a service is becoming less commonly used among vendors. Instead, many vendors are adopting the term device as a service.