By Mike Herrington

Many businesses face a dilemma. They need technology to run their business, but they’ve let themselves get so far behind that the price tag for their needed upgrades isn’t palatable.  Alternatively, a business can be growing significantly and need a large technology investment to let it take the next leap forward. Both require significant investment.

Some recent advances in technology paired with some financing solutions that have been around may be the solution.

The world of IT is continually evolving.  Ten years ago, most systems were server-based and there were a lot less acronyms in the world. Things like HaaS, IaaS, SaaS and DRaaS didn’t exist. Some of these acronyms may come in handy for business owners.  Here’s a brief rundown and how you can apply them to your business:

HaaS stands for hardware as a service. Essentially, this is when a provider defers upfront payment for hardware and instead provides hardware for a monthly fee. Cell phones are frequently done this way. They just tack $20 a month onto your bill and you don’t have to pay a big upfront cost. Many IT service providers are leveraging this method to make it easier for businesses to purchase new technology. It offers the advantages of reduced capital expenditures, built-in hardware refresh after a given term, fully managed and supported hardware and it even gives you extra tax deductions.

IaaS refers to infrastructure as a service. This is where a provider provides your entire infrastructure, including servers, switches and other networking gear. This allows many businesses to recognize cost savings through scalability and flexibility of the solution. 

Specifically, businesses that operate seasonally or have large peaks and valleys can benefit from IaaS. They can easily scale the infrastructure up or down to fit the need and pay only for what they use. Businesses that do software development and testing benefit from IaaS by having the capability to spin up a server to do testing and spin it down when the project is complete.

SaaS is software as a service. There are a million SaaS apps that have flooded the market in the past few years. More and more businesses are eliminating servers from their offices by switching to applications that live in a web browser. They offer several advantages, such as reducing the needed hardware and server infrastructure, guaranteed uptime, security and accessibility. 

DRaaS is our very last acronym. It stands for disaster recovery as a service. This refers to engaging a company to completely manage your backup solution, including offsite backups and a disaster recovery plan. DR plans can frequently cost a lot and require significant capital expenditures. This is especially true if you want to achieve high availability or zero downtime. DRaaS is essentially paying a service provider to manage the entire solution from end to end. This eliminates initial capital expenditures as well as allows you to continue to use resources where they’re needed most.

By leveraging some combination of the above services, many businesses will be able to create a plan that allows them to get to more current tech and move their business forward while changing the cost structure to an easy-to-manage monthly bill.  More and more applications have web-based versions and HaaS and IaaS services are becoming more and more common.  Some combination of this meets the needs of most businesses.

There are some businesses, however, that don’t have so many options available to them. They work in an industry that doesn’t have SaaS applications built to suit their needs yet.  They have difficult workloads that require specific hardware configurations that aren’t accessible with IaaS. For those businesses, good old-fashioned leasing may be a great option.

Many business owners don’t realize that there are several large companies that do leases on technology equipment at affordable prices. This allows you to build the exact network infrastructure and software that you need. It can be as custom as you want. Then you wrap the entire thing into an equipment lease and make it an affordable monthly payment.  

Many leases have the option of being a “buck-out” lease.  That means at the end of the term, you can buy all your equipment for a buck and then determine if you want to keep running on it or replace it and liquidate the old gear.  Alternatively, you can select a lower monthly payment and simply renew the lease every three years. This allows you to always have current hardware that is under warranty at a lower monthly price.

Technology financing options have evolved to give business owners a plethora of options. Take the time to select the solutions and financing options that are best for your business. You’ll be able to reap many rewards from the higher performance of up-to-date systems and possibly enjoy some great tax benefits at the same time.

Mike Herrington is the manager of business development at i.t.NOW.

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