REPLACING AND UPGRADING TECHNOLOGY
As a small business owner or operator, we often wait until a server or computer breaks or software becomes obsolete and only replace or upgrade as needed. Lack of time and or money may be a factor. This reactive approach leads to unscheduled downtime, lost productivity and the potential of losing both customers and business.
You need to be prepared and plan ahead of time when replacing a server, a batch of computers or upgrading a major piece of software. Your budget may take a hit, testing may be required prior to the upgrade, you're staff may need training and you'll need to be prepared for the amount of time required for installation and deployment. Platte River Networks is here to help you with this important and sometimes difficult and costly process-we believe in a proactive rather than reactive approach keeping budget in mind.
Deciding When to Refresh
How often should you replace your servers and you desktop computers? How often should you replace laptops and PDAs? Mission-critical software?
What factors should you take into consideration when you're contemplating a technology refresh? What part of your business will be affected? What areas of your business can you improve?
In general, servers are replaced every four to six years; desktop systems are replaced every three to five years; and laptops, cell phones and PDAs are swapped every two to three years. Printers and networking equipment may last five years or more. Software and operating systems vary widely, depending on your organization's needs and vendor support. However, these are all just guidelines, and factors unique to your organization will drive the final decision about when to refresh.
We are here to offer guidance and assistance when determining your ongoing technology upgrade plan. Platte River Networks has the tools to run a hardware and software inventory report to help identify the older hardware and software so you can budget and plan appropriately for any upgrades or refresh.
We also look at the following variables when making a recommendation on how to proceed:
What's in your budget? Can you afford to buy new computers or new software?
How much are your old computers and servers really costing you? Should you hang onto your computers or servers as long as possible?
Old computers and servers often have significant hidden costs. Your IT staff and outsourced IT provider will spend much more time supporting a five-year-old computer. Slower and undependable hardware or software can frustrate both employees and customers. Everyone will waste time waiting for software to load, computers to operate or for repairs to resolve on going and increasing issues.
Does the vendor still support the technology?
Often, a vendor will no longer support a particular operating system or software. From that point on, it gets harder to keep the software secure and operational.
Are your old computers delaying other upgrades?
For example, are you waiting to upgrade your business applications or operating systems because your servers can't handle the latest version?
Make the technology refresh a part of your strategic planning, budget planning and technology planning conversations. It can have a major impact on your budget and your services, so you want feedback from frontline staff, managers, users, vendors and sometimes customers.
When replacing computers, replace a smaller percentage each year so the upgrade is easier to manage both financially and from an operations perspective. We recommend replacing 20-25% of your computers each and every year in order to follow a 3-5 year cycle so the desktop/laptop hardware, operating system software and office software stay current. Computers typically begin having more issues after 3-5 years requiring tech support and causing more downtime, lost productivity and increased IT costs. It is also important to always buy business class computers from a certified reseller rather than buying a home class computer from Best Buy or Cost Co. Home class computers are not built to run in business and will need more repairs and not last as long as a business class computer. In the long run, they will cost more than a business class computer.
Communicate with staff. Let them know well in advance if you'll be replacing their computers or installing new software. If your planned changes will have a major impact, invite them to give feedback or ask them if the upgrade will have any unforeseen consequences on the way they do their work.
Train your staff. Rollouts of new software and upgrades of existing software usually require some staff training. Platte River Networks can assist with the training or help bring in specific trainers if needed.
Selecting a Technology Refresh Strategy
Big bang: In this approach, you switch out all of the computers at the same time every third, fourth or fifth year. This is a risky strategy, since your funding sources could dry up just as you're about to replace everything. Furthermore, this "all at once" approach puts a big strain on your staff, which needs to deal with a sudden influx of new equipment. On the other hand, your staff will always have a standard hardware configuration because all the PCs were purchased at the same time. Also, you might save some money by buying in bulk.
Phased refresh: A lot of companies swap out a fraction of their computers each year. For example, if they're on a four-year replacement cycle, they'll replace 25 percent of their PCs each year. This makes their budget requests more uniform and spreads out the impact of hardware rollouts. This plan also provides less strain internally on both the IT team and the users.
Server Replacement: New servers are now built to last 5 years plus-especially in virtualized server environments. Often the server operating systems will require upgrading before the server hardware needs replacing. When replacing a server you should have the server configured to allow for future growth and expansion.
Saving a little money on your server by going with less scalability and expandability will usually cost you more in the long run. Applications are continually upgrading requiring more computing power so be prepared for scaling the server in the future in order to accommodate the application advancements. Don't cut costs in the beginning and get caught having to upgrade your server in 3 years rather than 5 years.
Extending the life of your technology
Servers and computers and other business technology hardware are comprised of many complex parts and require ongoing maintenance and care. In order to improve the uptime and performance and extend the life Dell and other manufacturers are extending warranties on some of their servers to seven years. This warranty guarantees the necessary replacement parts are always available.
Servers are built to run 24 x 7 and are critical to running your business.
Like a new car, routine maintenance extends the life of your server and workstation. Servers require monthly maintenance at a minimum to manage updates, patches, logs, errors, backups, power, security, etc. The longer a server is neglected the harder it has to work affecting both daily performance and reducing the life of your server. Workstations also require routine maintenance although not as extensive as a server. Workstations also perform better, last longer and have fewer issues if they are routinely managed and maintained.
Platte River Networks provides ongoing server and workstation maintenance and management through our signature managed services product, Intuition. With Intuition, we monitor your servers and workstation 24 x 7 providing patch and update management, security monitoring and maintenance, backup and power management and remote trouble shoot and fix.
For more information on managing, upgrading and extending the life of your technology, please contact Platte River Networks - David DeCamillis - Director of Business Development - firstname.lastname@example.org
Please visit us at: http://www.platteriver.com
Who is VAR Resources?
VAR Resources provides computers, technology, networking, software and IT infrastructure to companies throughout the U.S. through leasing and finance offerings. We began operations in 1988 and more than 30,000 companies have utilized our services. Our customers range from the very largest fortune 500 companies to small entrepreneurial organizations. We make it simple, fast, and cost effective to acquire the technology you need to grow and expand your business.
With a local presence here in Denver, CO, Jamie Liechty is here to help you finance your IT needs. She is available for conference calls and on-site meetings to discuss the credit process, quotes, customizing your lease structure, etc. Please reach out to her anytime at email@example.com or 972.755.8295.
EMPLOYEE SPOTLIGHT: BILL THORNTON
EMPLOYEE SPOTLIGHT: BILL THORNTON
BILL THORNTON, has been an IT Consultant here at Platte River Networks for about three years. He originates from the Lone Star State and has strong family roots throughout Louisiana yet he can be considered as Colorado grown and raised since he has lived here for about 25 years. He decided to attend Colorado School of Mines versus LSU where about 60% of his family are Alumni. Bill is also a newlywed who just married this last summer to his loving wife and is blessed with an incredible family, a great job and is in good health. He played golf in college, so when time allows he plays as often as possible as this would be his number one hobby.
When questioned about who Bill would like to be if not himself, he answered his dog, Topper because she is spoiled rotten. Bill's idea of total happiness is to be 100% happy while being 100% bored, yet when asked if he had a superpower, what would it be? He replied, by wanting instant answers by being able to have the answer to anything just by asking yourself and that seems like he would never be bored because his mind would be going nonstop with that superpower. Bill's motto is to just work hard and play hard because life is too short to not do what you want to do and enjoy it!