Why COVID-19 Is Accelerating Enterprises' Adoption Of DaaS Solutions Device-as-a-service has been growing as a popular model in the transition, allowing organizations to distribute hardware such as computers, tablets and phones with preconfigured and customized software

By Apu Pavithran

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COVID-19 has changed the world as we once knew it. The business landscape, user behaviors and technology have all shifted in the new normal, bringing about the need for innovative solutions. For companies, the pandemic has forced a rapid adoption of remote work policies and hardware that can keep teams connected, productive, compliant and secure.

Device-as-a-service (DaaS) has been growing as a popular model in the transition, allowing organizations to distribute hardware such as computers, tablets and phones with preconfigured and customized software. Surprisingly, in 2015, no major PC manufacturers offered a DaaS option to acquire hardware, however, by 2019, 65 per cent did. Despite having been available for many years, DaaS is being turned to as a much-needed bridge between employees and employers in the remote revolution, while simultaneously offering robust cybersecurity protection for corporate devices.

Already, tech giants such as Apple and HP are utilizing DaaS capabilities, paving the way for other businesses to follow suit. Now, against the backdrop of COVID-19, here's why enterprises are accelerating their adoption of DaaS solutions.

Greater flexibility and lower costs

As enterprises switch to remote practices in the pandemic, many have chosen to quickly buy large amounts of laptops to support team members. Besides being expensive, the surge purchases have meant that stock is limited and companies have had to compromise the brand or performance of hardware they wanted. In some cases, these decisions have meant employees could not complete their work to the same standard as when using in-office hardware.

Kevin Dobbs, leader of Accenture's Everything-as-a-Service practice, has stated that "in the end, [businesses] don't care about the device itself. They just want an outcome [...] They want a service." DaaS is a favorable alternative to buying hardware outright because companies don't have to pay for, configure or manage equipment, allowing them to save money, as well as be more agile.

With DaaS, enterprises can test services and devices without having to commit to purchasing them in bulk; they can also match DaaS services and software with their business size, industry and needs. This ability to cherry-pick priority services, for example, application delivery or data centrality is particularly valuable in the new normal when businesses have to be more flexible and adjust to changing tides in their operations.

At the same time, many companies have introduced zero-based budgeting in the crisis to accommodate for falling sales and revenue. DaaS aligns well with these budgets because it is paid for via a monthly subscription, helping to reduce capital and operational expenditure. Not to mention, DaaS is easily scalable (both up and down) so can be adapted relative to an enterprise's performance. Unlike buying hardware outright which runs the risk of losing money if the company has a bad month, DaaS models can be molded around business projections.

Improved cybersecurity

Since the COVID-19 virus broke out, cyberattacks have increased five-fold and remote employees have been prime targets for hackers attempting to steal corporate data. The reality is, remote staff pose a greater threat to cybersecurity because they are more likely to use personal devices and unsecure connections to access enterprise networks, which create vulnerabilities for cyber criminals to take advantage of.

Just as cloud platforms need to be securely configured, monitored, and maintained, so do endpoints that access those services. Because DaaS is an all-inclusive managed solution, models come with their own cyber defence toolkit. The providers are responsible for ensuring that all devices have up-to-date security software and are free from harmful malware at all times. Providers are also tasked with confirming that hardware adheres to enterprises' individual security protocols around approved content, passwords, and data logging.

Another perk is that DaaS makes device management more transparent as a whole. Providers can track an enterprises' entire fleet of devices, identifying high-risk usage or anomalies in interactions. If an issue is flagged, the device(s) can be blocked before an attack gets underway. These preemptive capabilities are necessary in shaping a 'responsive' cybersecurity mentality, as opposed to a 'preventative' one, considering that over 50 per cent of companies say cyberattacks are the most worrisome risk for their business in the new normal.

An extra layer of protection can be added to DaaS hardware by combining it with unified endpoint management (UEM), which lets enterprises control devices from a single interface. The two models together can identify and thwart vulnerabilities or attacks, along with analyze data about device location and condition. This information is useful to know if equipment has been stolen or has become outdated.

UEM also offers configuration management, operating system patch management, client health and security management. With UEM, IT teams can deploy security patches and OS updates faster, install software more reliably, and consolidate operational processes across all devices—both on or off the domain in real-time.

It is important to note though, that DaaS does not completely alleviate enterprises from orchestrating a sound cybersecurity strategy. The model is most successful when companies communicate their security principles prior to integrating DaaS, and then keep a regular watch over how DaaS applies and enacts these principles.

The technological backbone of remote work

Although DaaS was desirable for enterprises before COVID-19, the pandemic has made the need for infrastructure that can accommodate remote teams all the more pressing. Companies are having to find hardware solutions that can be flexible while still offering ongoing support, which DaaS can do, on top of being customizable. The model is appropriate for the current conditions because it enables remote staff which is already accustomed to cloud-based services to continue their workflows without disruption.

With these benefits in mind, DaaS looks set to be the technological backbone for remote operations now, and for the foreseeable future.

Apu Pavithran

Founder & CEO, Hexnode

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