CyberTech Rambler

December 10, 2007

How to justify a Desktop Upgrade

Filed under: Uncategorized — ctrambler @ 4:16 pm

Microsoft is running an article on how IT managers can persuade upper management to to upgrade from XP to Vista. The target audience is likely to be IT managers of medium-to-large company. This is because I believe for small companies, there is no “IT manager” and the standard process of replace things only when they breaks applies.

In my opinion, any IT managers that find the article useful should reexamine their skill set as “managers of IT”. To be an IT manager, rather than technician, engineer or architect requires ability to make the business case for IT decisions, not on the whim and fancy of one’s personality. While the article identifies area to research in, you must be out-of-your-dealt or have a sugar-daddy job if those considerations haven’t cross your mind.

A lot of IT people (and managers) adopt the “if it isn’t broken, DON’T fix it” for a good reason. The key to  the decision to upgrade is to prove that something is “broken”. And, as an IT manager, if you propose a solution, you better make sure it damn well works, especially if you are asking for money.

The truth is, if you are committed to the Windows Desktop route, you will, sooner or later, end up as a 99.9% Vista shop. The remaining 0.1% will be a mix of Windows 95/98/ME/XP which runs certain applications that you deem not worthwhile replacing. It will be sooner if you have a “desktop replacement roll out” strategy, later if you take the “replace only when machine breaks strategy”.

Any IT manager worth their salt will call for an evaluation of Windows Vista first to decide when to upgrade. One can guesstimate when from vendor’s consultant reports/recommendation, but eventually the IT manager must take the decision as applicable to the companies need. Where the article fails is its inability to clearly identify the need. All it identify is potential areas for consideration.

Let’s dissect it:

  1. Security is the message : It takes longer than a year to prove that Vista is more secure.At present, we just do not have enough empirical data to shows that Vista is more secure.  Unfortunately for Microsoft, in this respect, word-of-mouth matters more than actual supporting data (if you can ever trust vendor-supplied data), and this takes time (if indeed Vista is more secure). As for the message that in Vista, users are not “administrators” anymore, I do not see many medium to large size company allows users to run as “administrator” on WinXP.
  2. The challenges: Iin my view, the “users no longer run as administrator” arguement since most users are not administrator in mid size company and above. The extra RAM is a problem, RAM standard change too quickly. This means difficulty in procuring RAM for older machine. Strictly speaking it is not a MS only problem, but MS gets hit particularly hard with Vista.
  3. The hidden cost of vulnerability: Again, “user no longer run as admin” is moot. Cost of vulnerability is easy to quantify: Estimate how many hours each technician spend per month on fixing XP, then multiply by their hourly salary.
  4. Make a list: good advice.
  5. Save us the money: If you as IT manager do not know to use this as a carrot already, please consider applying for a different job.

Should I add another piece of advise: Check with your supplier and see how much you can squeeze them. If you are big enough, Microsoft can be very squeezable!

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