Monday, April 15, 2013

Out with the old, in with the new

I am not sure where everyone is located who reads this article.  For me, I am located in New Jersey, United States of America.  “Joysey” as we often refer to it and no, it is nothing like the Jersey Shore television show (those are visiting New Yorkers and could be the subject of a whole book). 

We have not had a terrible winter season, yet there have been cold spells.  This weekend overall has given us a taste of spring weather.  Warmer, more moderate temperatures, sunny skies, and a light breeze.  Ideal weather to see how well in-shape we are from the winter to go out and start cleaning up the yard, fighting the weeds, pruning the bushes and pondering where our lawn went and if it will ever be the same.

My neighbor, after saying hello, said he did not know what he was going to do with his back yard.  I agreed, saying that I really did not have grass any more, just weeds.  At least he has grass in his front yard.  I do not have much of anything that looks like grass.  In truth the soil has run through many seasons and it is just not workable anymore.  The weeds seem to like it fine.  Yet, there are even a few dead spots the weeds do not even like to venture.


As interesting as this may sound (insert laugh sound here), it relates to a few of my customers who recently decided to replace their entire infrastructure.   Everything.  Servers, workstations, laptops, switches, operating systems, office software, etc. 

I am not sure if it is a matter of the economy being so bad for so long, that no one did any maintenance and the future all-of-a-sudden caught up, like in a time warp.  Or, if there was no one at the helm directing or deciding on what needed to be done.  In one case the organization decided on new software which had new requirements.  The old equipment just could not keep up and was painfully slow. 

For many smaller companies it may be a matter of not having a Technology Department or budget.  The companies are too small to have a dedicated person.  They operate on a break-fix method instead of being proactive.  Sometimes they have Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems, but the vendor does not force updates and they end up getting left behind. 

No one seems to want to take responsibility.

Now, I am not advocating that once an organization has a solution that they should be forced to stay current, yet there is some thought that is why you select an outside solution provider versus developing the code in-house.  Someone to keep you current and invest the resources needed to keep current with today’s trends and changes and demands, demands of their customers.

Software as a service (SaaS) solutions have the advantage of keeping you current.  They can sometimes be limited in that you cannot make all of the changes you want and you need to mold your business to the software.  A big advantage is that you are always current.  Small incremental changes instead of dramatic culture changes.

As a solution provider I run up against the challenge of whether or not I need to keep after my smaller clients or devote my time and energies, not to mention income, towards companies that are actively looking for help.  I really do care, but how many times can I go to management and let them know they are at risk for not keeping current.  I hear all the time that “we are not a target”, “no one is trying to break in”, “we do not have any money”, “everything is fine”, well at least not until after-the-fact.  Then they have that puzzled look. 

I do not ever say “I told you so”, I ask how I can help. 

There was a time when things were simpler.  The challenge usually was not enough disk space or a workstation that was disconnected or not communicating.  You know, simple, not like there has been a data breach, our employee identities have been compromised and the regulators are calling.

There have been a few ideas on getting my clients current.  Depending on just how bad things are helps to determine if upgrading incrementally is an option or if replacing everything is the solution.

When the decision is made to replace everything, there are virtualization options.  The technology has come a long way and takes advantage of the older workstations being used as clients to a central system.  There are a number of advantages, central administration, backup, disaster recovery, easily creating new workstations from templates.  Another significant benefit is that all of the data resides in-house and for people traveling with laptop computers, this is a big advantage in cases where the device is lost or stolen. 

The downside of virtualization seems to be in a few main areas.  One, they has to be enough infrastructure to make it worthwhile.  Virtualization has upfront costs and there has to be enough “stuff” to offset those startup costs.  Two, you need someone on the technical side to help administer the system.  Yes, these systems are fairly well automated, but there are needs that require knowledgeable people.  These are powerful and sophisticated server systems.  Three, there are virtualization systems that run in-house and others are hosted.  The hosted ones take care of a lot of the administration and upkeep, however, if there are any connectivity issues, then this can be a dangerous combination.  If everything is virtualized and “out-there”, then what happens when you cannot connect?

Last fall on the East coast, right here in NJ, hurricane Sandy came running through.  Some businesses were completely unprepared.  Still, others thought they had everything covered, because their servers were in the “cloud”.  Great, but no one could connect.  The Internet is growing and hosts valuable resources, but they are only good, if you can get to them.

Another option for the smaller organizations is leasing.  If all of the equipment needs to be replaced, then it can all be leased.  At the end of three years, purchase two thirds of it at fair market value, and then lease one third every year thereafter.  At that point in time you will be replacing your workstations every three years and you can feel relatively confident that you will be current or not that far behind.  Every three years you will be all-new.  The servers can be leased as well, but you may want more time on them.  One advantage of a shorter term lease is that you can configure the hardware more to your immediate needs and not worry too much about the future, because you will be replacing it in a few years. 

Leasing also has the advantage of deferring the costs.  A smaller monthly payment than having to come up with all that money at once.  Cap-ex versus Op-ex expenditures.  There is a cost to leasing, but the administration reduction typically pays for it. 

I cannot say leasing is right for you, but I do suggest you take a look at the option.

So how is my yard and your computing infrastructure similar?  Well, I have been “doing” my yard for decades, feel I have a good feel for what it needs, fertilizer, water, mowing, weeding, etc.,  just like you do with your equipment and software.  I also know that a little knowledge and being knowledgeable are two different things.  Perhaps if I let the lawn care to someone, i.e. a business, that does lawn care for a business that I might not only free up my time for things that only I can do, but I might also end up with a great lawn that I do not have to worry about. 

At Dolvin Consulting we either have expertise or we work with industry experts that do have the expertise to help you understand your challenges, develop a reasonable plan of action direct you into a profitable future.  Contact us today to see how we can help.


No comments:

Post a Comment