My First Rant! Lately it seems that IBM and other vendors have given up trying to capture the business desktop market. This always gets me concerned, because the small business owner loses a valuable resource in the local reseller and business level support from the manufacturer. The smaller business will be more likely to shop price, and rely on mail order, office supply companies, or national web stores for advice. These systems are usually home-office solutions at best, and are not geared to a small non-home business. Technical Support for these products is usually out-sourced and may not be helpful. A lot of systems I have seen bought this way have XP-Home or useless applications clogging the system tray which makes them sluggish. Whitebox clones or PCs specific to a reseller that aren’t based on widely available components can also be a risk, make sure that you can get support elsewhere if needed.
By losing the desktop market, vendors also risk losing the server and even the enterprise market. For example if I am an acting IT Manager, and have a Dell on my desktop I am more likely to buy the servers from Dell. This is when things can get tricky, servers are a little more complicated to configure and nothing beats having someone take a hands-on look at what you need. Mirrored or RAID based disks, an adequate backup solution, the correct operating system, and a good suite of applications correctly configured to run your business.
If you are considering buying or upgrading your computer computers, network or software directly, please consider using a local I.T. consulting company to at least write a technical specification that you can shop around. You can find good local companies in the yellow pages or look at ITLocator an independent IT resource locator. You can usually opt to pay a small hourly fee for this upfront. If you have an existing relationship with a company they may discount the service or even do it for free. These survey assessments should go over your current software licensing, hardware, storage, and specify a phased-in priority based approach that should align with your future growth plans. By using this approach you actually may save money and end up with a better solution. Just be aware I may be biased in this area, but I have seen too many businesses waste lots of money on the wrong type of equipment.