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Snapshot: TBR’s 1H18 Hyperconverged Platforms Customer Reserach

Enterprises are seeking the agility and flexibility afforded by cloud environments and are increasingly considering opex-based consumption models for their on-premises private cloud environments. Insights from TBR’s recently published 1H18 Hyperconverged Platforms Customer Research report further detail these trends and the impact they will likely have on the data center infrastructure market and digital transformation.

For more information on Hyperconverged Platforms Customer Research, contact Engagement Manger and Senior Analyst Angela Lambert ([email protected]).

Is the IT hardware market ready for Hardware as a Service?

Hardware as a Service — or maybe you call it PCaaS, DaaS or XaaS — is basically referring to bundling some type of hardware (e.g., phones, PCs, servers) with life cycle services and charging a recurring fee over a multiyear contract. The customer never really owns the hardware, and the vendor takes it back at the end of the agreement.

Sure, it’s not a new concept. But the solution hasn’t exactly taken off like a rocket ship, either. So, is it going to? Maybe. Its initial speed may be more like a Vespa than a SpaceX Falcon, but there are a few things working in its favor.

Why do buyers want it?

  • Retiring hardware is a huge pain. I have talked to IT leaders who have literally acquired warehouse space solely to store old hardware they have no idea what to do with.
  • Making it easier to stay up to date with tech. Management can no longer deny the negative impact on morale brought by an unattractive, slow and/or unreliable device.
  • Automation & Internet of Things (IoT) usher in new capabilities. Who doesn’t want to make managing hardware easier? Hardware as a Service is basically IoT for your IT department. Device management features like tracking device location and health are key functions of many IoT deployments and is a core selling point of Hardware as a Service offerings.

Why do vendors want to sell it?

  • Business models are changing. That darn cloud computing had to come along and change expense models, not to mention make it easier to switch between vendors. From Spotify and Netflix to Amazon Web Services and Salesforce, “as a Service” is second nature to IT buyers in both their personal and professional lives.
  • Creating stickiness. Hardware is more often perceived as “dumb” with the software providing the real value. If you’re a hardware maker (or a VAR), you need to make the buyer see your relationship as one that’s valuable and service-oriented versus transactional.
  • Vendors desire simplicity. Most vendors will tell you they have been building similar enterprise service agreements on a one-off basis for years. These new programs will hopefully create swim lanes to make it faster and easier for partners to build solutions.

Buyers are used to monthly SaaS pricing models, but that’s not really what creates the main appeal for Hardware as a Service. Buyers really want the value-added services and fewer managerial headaches.

So, how’s it going?

As someone who manages several research streams, I get to peek at results from a lot of different studies. Here are a few snippets of things I’ve heard and seen in the last month or so.

  • Personal devices: It certainly seems like there’s the most buzz around PCs, with Dell, HP Inc. and Lenovo all promoting DaaS offerings. I have also heard from enterprises doing initial DaaS pilots with as many as 5,000 PCs, but we seem to still be in very early stages of adoption. Both PC vendors and their channel partners are beginning to report “legit” pipeline opportunities tied to DaaS.
  • Servers: Either outright purchasing or leasing servers is still the overwhelming choice of purchase method for about 90% of IT buyers recently surveyed by TBR. Perceptions that an “as a Service” model will be more expensive in the long run is the main customer concern to date that vendors will need to address via emphasizing the value-added life cycle services.
  • Hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI): A bundle of hardware and a services bundle? This is the bundle of bundles! Not too many HCI vendors are openly promoting an “as a Service” pricing model at this point, but 80% of current HCI buyers in TBR’s most recent Hyperconverged Platforms Customer Research indicated they are interested in a consumption-based purchasing model, particularly to enhance their scalability. About 84% of those surveyed are using HCI for a private or hybrid cloud buildout, so maybe a more cloud-like pricing model make sense. Make no mistake, interest is not synonymous with intent, but it’s safe to say these buyers are at least paying attention to their purchasing options.

My general verdict is that things are still moving at Vespa speed. PCs have a head start over data center hardware based on the concerted go-to-market efforts of the big three OEMs and a consumption model that more closely aligns with the consumer services we’re used to. The second half of this year will be an interesting proving ground to see if the reported pipeline growth is converted to actual customers. Depending on how that goes, maybe we’ll see the data center guys making more serious moves in this space.

What do you think? Add a comment or drop me an email at [email protected].

 

Key findings from TBR’s upcoming HCI customer research

Hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI) is a growing market ripe with opportunity for vendors. TBR forecasts the market will reach $11.7 billion by 2022. Although TBR research indicates that incumbent vendors with a strong presence in the converged infrastructure (CI) market, such as Dell EMC and Cisco, have an advantage in the space, findings also indicate that a growing number of smaller vendors are rising in popularity. Add to that the approximately one-quarter of existing customers who indicated that brand is not a key factor in their decision making, and it becomes clear that the opportunity to take share from existing vendors is high. Further, with nearly three-quarters of respondents indicating they have not yet taken the plunge into the HCI space, there is massive opportunity, through strategic marketing and support, for vendors to encourage new adopters to be their customers.

HCI has a significant place in the cloud market

Eighty-four percent of respondents indicated they are leveraging HCI for either hybrid or private cloud installations. TBR believes this suggests that cloud is not necessarily an inhibitor to HCI adoption, as some vendors may perceive. Further, we believe this signals that consumption-based pricing options, which 81% of respondents indicated they would be interested in considering in the future, will encourage more HCI adoption. Consumption-based pricing enables customers to select HCI for a capex solution as well as for public cloud if they choose, and they can simply compare performance and other features between the two to make purchasing decisions. Vendors can capitalize on this flexibility with strategic marketing.

IT leaders play a crucial role in the HCI decision-making process

HCI remains a strategic purchase, as evidenced by the fact that 74% of respondents indicated IT directors and managers were one of the decision makers. TBR believes that as customers become more familiar with HCI and their HCI vendor, they will be more likely to make repeat purchases and will be less likely to demand direct-from-vendor sales.

To learn more about TBR’s Hyperconverged Platforms Customer Research, contact Stanley Stevens ([email protected]) or your account executive.