Why should we keep investing in IT infrastructure?
Is this a trick question? Do you mean – why should we buy infrastructure when everything is moving to the cloud? Or do you mean – why can’t we just stop spending money?
Either way, it’s not news that IT keeps moving forward and infrastructure keeps ageing. Yes, we’re going to need less infrastructure as some applications move to the cloud – especially with the new release of Microsoft’s desktop suite of applications in the cloud, Office 365. However, for some time, we will continue to see a hybrid mix of local and cloud solutions, so ongoing upgrades are essential.
Just last week, I accompanied one of my staff to buy his first brand-new car as part of a salary package, and watched the trade-in deal take place. I noted very direct parallels with the IT scenario. The motivation to buy a new car stemmed from successive breakdowns, each time causing travel stress, loss of work time and unanticipated repair bills. The last repair cost $2000 and had to be paid as there was an immediate need to travel to work.
Come trade-in time, just a couple of weeks later, the vehicle was valued at $1000 ¬– essentially its scrap value. In fact a large part of its value was the car’s registration. The “investment” of $2000 to keep it running was in fact 100% wasted. The car was a 1995 VS Commodore and it had done 238,000 kilometres. In the past 12 months, it cost the owner several times its value in repairs and created hours of downtime. Clearly it had been kept for too long, yet the owner was passionate about the car, as it felt like a part of him.
In the IT world, businesses have the same mentality when it comes to IT infrastructure. We monitor thousands of PCs and hundreds of servers, we see the hours of work that goes into the devices and see the full picture of the value proposition of the systems as they age. We only look at the cost of services versus the value of the devices, and being off-site most of the time we don’t get to see the direct impact on internal productivity, as the machines slow down. However, from our own direct experiences, we know about the frustrations of working with old, decelerating computers.
Having been in business for almost 10 years, we’ve had our own share of over-aged devices being retired. We know that as our PCs slow down, we spend more time waiting for our computers to get over a freeze, or rebooting, or waiting for a server to recover from a problem.
In our business, IT is a huge cost as everything we do is computer-based. Like so many businesses today, our labour costs are immense and we must constantly focus on improving productivity and scalability to ensure profitability.
Clearly, keeping old infrastructure is not a good option for us; even though we have the skills on tap to run repairs, we simply can’t afford the productivity impact to the team.
So my message is this: we need to retire hardware before the hidden maintenance costs exceed the cost of replacement. We don’t want to install new hardware alongside the old hardware, as we then create overly complex environments to manage.
So, make sure part of your investment in new infrastructure includes the decommissioning of old technology and ensuring decommissioned equipment is removed and recycled appropriately with reference to data protection and environmental protection.
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David Markus is the founder of Combo - the IT services company that ensures IT is never an impediment to growth.