In this article I will explain why the Desktop as a Service (DaaS) model is more sustainable, both financially and environmentally.
Sell more. Sell faster
That is the linear economy model that has been honed by manufacturers of computers and electronic devices over the past forty years or more.
The financial drivers for the computer manufacturing industry are high price, low cost and high volume. Product longevity, or durability is counterproductive. Instead, planned obsolescence is designed in. This ensures that devices need to be replaced frequently, feeding the machine with ever more demand.
At the risk of stating the obvious, the sell more, sell faster model translates to spend more, spend faster for the individuals and organisations that buy computers. Whose interests are best served by this model? Buyers, or sellers?
If sell more, sell faster is bad for all of us that buy computers, it is a disaster for the planet. Computer manufacturing is resource intensive, energy intensive and carbon intensive. To make just one computer:
- Requires as much energy as is needed to power to average home for 4 – 5 months
- Consumes 1,200 of the Earth’s resources to source the materials for components
- Uses 190,000 litres of water
- Generates >300 kgs of CO2e
The take, make, waste cycle of the linear economy leads to the unnecessary consumption of scarce resources on a colossal scale together with the production of thousands of tonnes of GHG emissions that are contributing to global warming.
What happens to all the devices that are replaced by the new ones in the sell more, sell faster model? One way or another, they are disposed of. They may be put in a drawer or cupboard to gather dust. They may go to landfill, together with the 160,000 laptops that are thrown away every day in the EU alone. In both cases, they cease to deliver any value to the people or organisations that invested in them. Only 20% of computers are ever recycled.
Refurbishing or remanufacturing equipment is a means of getting more value out of these resources and of preventing waste. However, if you are still replacing your computers with brand new machines every four years or so, you are still going to be spending more and spending faster, even if you sell or donate the old ones to be refurbished. You will still incur the financial cost of procuring these devices, together with the carbon cost and the resource cost of producing them.
What if there was an alternative to sell more, sell faster?
There is a better way. There is a small conceptual hurdle to jump to get to it. That is, we don’t derive any value from owning our computers. We get value from using them.
Once we get our heads around that concept, we understand that the financial drivers for a Desktop as a Service provider can be totally the opposite those of the sell more, sell faster model.
A note of caution though. There are different definitions of DaaS. Some can deliver more financial and environmental benefits than others.
The Leasing Model
At it’s most basic, Desktop as a Service (DaaS) is a device leasing model that sometimes has a service wrapper included. This works in a similar way to leasing a car. You select your device model and your lease term. You pay a monthly rental for the device. At the end of the term, you hand the device back.
The main benefit of this model is that by paying monthly, rather than up front it frees up capital in the business. Some DaaS leasers let you flex up or down and some will let you change device mid-contract.
Is the leasing model just sell more, sell faster in disguise?
The downside of this model is that the typical lease is only 36 months. At the end of the lease, the financial incentive from a provider perspective is for you to take out a new lease. As a result, you end up with new computers every three years. Leasing can also work out to be comparatively expensive. In reality, this isn’t really a departure from the sell more, sell faster model. If you’re getting new devices every three years, it is equally damaging from an environmental perspective.
The Hosted/Cloud Desktop Model
In this model, a service provider delivers virtual desktops to end users over the Internet, licensed with a per-user subscription. The service provider has no factory that needs to be kept busy and no need to sell physical devices. Therefore, there is no interest in shifting tin. The focus is on the service and making sure that customers get maximum use value from their devices.
This model delivers a number of other clear benefits.
Faster deployment and decommissioning:
The desktop is already configured, it just needs to be connected to a new device. For seasonal businesses that consistently experience spikes and drops in demand or employees, DaaS can save a lot of time and money.
Reduced downtime for IT support:
Desktop as a Service (DaaS) also allows companies to provide remote IT support to their employees, reducing downtime.
Increased device flexibility:
Desktop as a Service (DaaS) runs on a variety of operating systems and device types, which supports the trend of users bringing their own devices into the office and shifts the burden of supporting the desktop on all of those devices to the cloud service provider.
Because the data is stored in the data centre with DaaS, security risks are considerably lower. If a laptop or mobile device is stolen, it can simply be disconnected from the service. Since none of the data lives on that stolen device, the risk of a thief accessing sensitive data is minimal. Security patches and updates are also easier to install in a Desktop as a Service (DaaS) environment because all the desktops can be updated simultaneously from a remote location.
The main downside of this model is that the service provider usually does not manage the endpoint. The increased device flexibility which allows the desktop to run on a variety of operating systems creates variability for IT to manage. Without a managed endpoint how secure is BYOD?
Cognition Cloud DaaS
Cognition Cloud follows the cloud desktop model, but adds in management and support for the endpoint device. Cognition Cloud replace the operating system on your existing PCs with an alternative lightweight OS.
This delivers benefits above and beyond traditional Cloud Desktop as a Service (DaaS).
Extend the life of your existing PCs:
Without Windows, your PCs won’t run slow, or suffer from other symptoms that drive us to replace them frequently. With an alternative OS, you can expect to double their usable life, extending the value from the carbon, resources, energy and human effort that went into producing them. This can save you an eye watering amount of money in capital expenditure. Over the course of 10 years, a company with 200 computers will have spent £1m less as a result. Take a look at our cost calculators to run some scenarios for yourself.
Reduced Power Consumption/Cost:
Without Windows, the alternative operating system uses significantly computing power than a traditional desktop machine or laptop, they are less expensive and use 20-50% less power. Try our electricity savings calculator to see how much you could save as a result.
Even more enhanced security:
When your PCs are reimaged with an alternative operating system, they become read-only. With no data ever stored on them, they are not an attractive target for hackers and are virtually impervious to ransomware attack.
Flexibility without complexity:
BYOD can be supported securely with a bootable USB device. Users can temporarily boot into the secure OS, providing a consistent user experience, whatever device they are using. When they remove the USB, the device reverts to its normal state. When the USB device is in use, the device is read-only and completely partitioned from the native OS. The security of the host machine is unimportant.
When you need more devices, there’s no need to incur the financial or environmental cost of brand-new ones. Cognition Cloud can provide high-quality refurbished devices at a fraction of the cost that can be used over a longer term. These devices are net zero, or near net zero.
Linear vs Circular Economy
We believe the era of sell more, sell faster is coming to an end. The future is use longer, waste less and get more value.
Sustainable. Smart. Secure.