Why new PCs? These are good enough!

The people that work in the IT field know about upgrading and updating computer equipment. The SMB owners.. not so much.

I’ve had a couple interesting experiences recently with clients. I was busy trying to tell them that Windows XP was no longer going to be supported and that they should get new PCs. One client wanted pricing also for upgrading their current Core2 Duo PCs. We got them quotes for both, showing a difference of $800 total between upgrading multiple PCs and just getting new ones. Now we wait to see if they make the right choice.

The other client flat out told me that his server and PCs should last them 10-15 years. Nothing I said changed that idea in his mind. I fear for this client as they already have been hacked (see my previous post about that), and of course are setting themselves up for more pain like that.

I let my clients know that every 3-5 years they should be getting new computer equipment. Not only will they get faster machines with newer OSes that should be more secure, but their efficiency will be as good if not better, and they will have machines that are back under warranty. Now I understand that in a world where big ticket purchase do tend to last a long time (Cars, TVs, Appliances, etc…), they feel that should be the same way with computers. Add on that leasing the equipment doesn’t make a lot of sense financially either. So what is one to do, outside of explain to them the reality of the situation.

First off, set a hard date for when you will stop supporting the older OSes, and let your clients know that date. This not only gives them a solid time frame for which to make the changes, but puts the pressure on them.

Second, explain how going to newer equipment makes sense. Touch on speed of the new machines, security, warranties, and that the competition won’t wait for them to catch up.

Finally, let them know that the cost to upkeep the old equipment is not worth it. In the long run they save more by staying current with their equipment, especially as parts become rare.

There is no way to force a company to purchase newer equipment. The bottom line on all of this is to get the higher ups to understand that old equipment hurts the company in the long run. Hopefully, they are willing to listen to you, after all they have brought you on as the expert.

A Techs Role in the SMB goes unthought of

I made a comment on Twitter today after watching some of the announcements from today’s WPC Keynote. It got a nice conversation going and also got me thinking, an IT consultant’s role goes overlooked by the Tech Companies.

Being unable to attend Microsoft’s WPC in Toronto, I turned to Twitter to keep up with it, as I go out to clients on a regular basis and can’t always stream the keynotes. The announcement today of a complete refresh of all Microsoft products in the next 12 months was the icing on the cake. Microsoft was promoting through those at WPC, and forgetting about getting the refresh items in the hands of IT people.

the point comes really into play in the vast SMB marketplace. I have great influence over my clients and what they decide to purchase, due to a level of trust that I have built with them over the years. One the other hand I have limited resources of my own, and have to convince my bosses to get me new technology that I can test in our environments. Being a consultant is not easy.

Where Microsoft dropped the ball, is with TechEd. All the refreshes should have been on display and easily accessible to all the attendees. We are the ones who can drive adoption, and even give higher marks to a product compared to main tech site reviews. Now figure in that you need to set up budgeting for the following year, and Microsoft really dropped the ball. The Surface Tablet, if announced 2 weeks earlier and put on display/testing for the thousands at TechEd would have gotten even more press, more word of mouth and been ready to burst, if it is as good as they say. Office 2013 has been talked about, and I think has been shown a little at WPC, but still no build up for something that is coming out late this year or early next year.

TechEd pushed Server 2012 and Windows 8, but even then, unless one had time to do labs and not go to seminars, there wasn’t a lot to work with. the idea of having given or at least loaning a Windows 8 Tablet to all TechEd attendees would have been a boon. A chance to use it in a real world situation. the majority of us don’t have a way to test it on a tablet unfortunately.

TechEd also pushed cloud services, which for SMBs is still cost prohibitive. You have the cost of the services plus the cost of extra bandwith needed to be able to function at a smooth rate. The barrier to entry is too great. Add on that we are still seeing cloud service crashes every 4-6 months. the lack of the SBS edition of Server might drive more to the cloud, but could leave SMBs with older software, lack of funds to upgrade, and eventually create security issues.

As Scott Ladewig said in response to one of my tweets in our conversation, ” I love the deep dives into technology and educational opportunities, but TechEd keynotes should be more like WPC,” and about TechEd, “Great event, can be even better!” He is right, and hopefully Microsoft will learn. The SMB consultants are the true movers and shakers for a large majority of technology. Get us on board because we are not going to recommend something we haven’t tested.


Here we go again with virus hunting

Viruses are everywhere in this day. They slip past the defenses we put up, mess with our system, and even steal our information. Its a billion dollar black market for some, a set of hi-jinx for others.

For me, its a thorn in my side. 75 to 90 percent of the SMB calls I go on are for removing a virus/trojan from a PC or Laptop. Every time I get asked the same questions. How can we stop this, why did it get through, etc. Unfortunately, I don’t have a good answer for them.

I explain that tis a war. That virus writers are always a step ahead. Antivirus companies have to see the virus so they can stop it, and even that doesn’t always work.

The only way to be safe completely is to not use computers, cell phones, paper, ipads, and anything else that can hold a record. That isn’t going to happen. So I tell them to make sure updates are applied when they come out, and to be on the cautious side concerning web sites. Then a month or two later, I am back out to them removing another virus.