Hardware

Many CIOs aren't delaying the PC refresh cycle, they're totally rethinking it

See how some CIOs are delaying their PC refresh cycles while others are looking to get off of the PC refresh merry-go-round altogether.

See how some CIOs are delaying their PC refresh cycles in 2009 while others are looking to get off of the PC refresh merry-go-round altogether.

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One of the easiest levers for CIOs to pull when they need to save money in the IT budget is to push off the purchase of new hardware from one budget cycle to the next. And, the biggest hardware lever to pull is typically the one for new desktop and laptop PCs for end users, because of the sheer scale involved.

On October 6, TechRepublic polled its 90-member panel of U.S. IT executives and asked, "Has your IT department done anything to delay its PC refresh cycle in 2009?" The jury, made up of the first 12 respondents, came through with three only "Yes" votes and nine "No" votes.

It was a surprise that this number wasn't higher, since U.S. organizations have been under intense budget pressure in 2009 from the stagnant economic climate. The fact that only 25% of the jury reported a delay in PC upgrades could also mean that some of them have already used this lever in the last couple years and can't keep doing it indefinitely, or it could mean that many of them don't have a strict policy for refreshing end user PCs. However, as you'll see in the comments below, it also means that there are a bunch of IT departments that are reconsidering how they handle PC deployments altogether.

TechRepublic's CIO Jury is based on the original CIO Jury concept developed by Silicon.com, where you can find lively opinions from IT leaders based in the UK.

The CIO Jury on this topic was:

  1. Chuck Musciano, CIO of Martin Marietta Materials
  2. Kurt Schmidt, IT Director of Capital Credit Union
  3. Joel Robertson, Director of IT for King College
  4. Matthew Metcalfe, Director of IS for Northwest Exterminating
  5. Michael Spears, CIO for National Council on Compensation Insurance
  6. Lisa Moorehead, Director of IT for MA Dept of Public Utilities
  7. Russ Strassburg, VP of IS for Ramco-Gershenson
  8. David L. Van Geest, Director of IT for The Orsini Group
  9. Mark Westhoff, Director of IT for Lincolnshire-Prairie View School District
  10. Laurie Dale, Director of IT for Ability Beyond Disabilty
  11. Tom Gainer, CIO of FirstBank Southwest
  12. Bob Hickcox, Director of IT for Girl Scouts of MN and WI

Beyond just the 12 members of this week's jury, other members of TechRepublic's CIO panel also responded with comments on this issue. Below is a selection of those comments, divided between the Yes and No camps:

Yes

  • "Yes, but this is a part of a broader effort to rethink how we handle desktop computing." (Scott Lowe, CIO of Westminster College)
  • "We skipped the PC refresh cycle for our fiscal year just ended (09/30). We are selectively delaying for the new fiscal year. However, we are re-imaging machines, adding RAM, upgrading video cards to try to squeeze another year out of the PCs." (Jeff Cannon, CIO of Fire and Life Safety America)
  • "We have deferred until next year and in the process of switching to thin clients." (Jay Rollins, VP of IT for Trilogy Health Services)
  • "Yes.  We are in the early stages of virtualizing desktops." (Randy Krzyston, Director of IT for Thomas Jefferson School of Law)
  • "Yes, we are pushing workstation refresh back to allow for more funds to be spent on virtualization and server consolidation." (Lance Taylor-Warren, CIO of H.A.W.C. Community Health Centers)
  • "Yes, we're upgrading components instead of replacing machines." (Jeanne DeVore, Head of IT for Chicago Shakespeare Theater)
  • "We have put off plans to do the 1/3 replacement due to budget constraints." (Olaf Lund, Director of IT for Lincoln Financial Media)
  • "We have fixed a lot more hardware than ever before to stretch the money." (Michael Hanken, VP of IT for Multiquip Inc.)
  • "Yes. We've added memory to all systems in order to better handle the newer software releases." (Matthew Metcalfe, Director of IS for Northwest Exterminating)
  • "We have cancelled our refresh cycle. We are currently replacing internal hardware as required, and only purchasing new systems as a last resort." (Adam Bertram, IT Director for McKendree Village)
  • "Yes, specifically for engineering workstations.  Instead of purchasing the latest workstations for the department we have just upgraded memory to the max, put fresh loads of XP Pro x64, and new processor on a select few.  With these cheap boosts and a fresh OS it's like a brand new machine.  Subsequently we are able to put off a $50,000 plus purchase, for that department, for another 18 months or so." (Martin Szalay, Director of IT for FWE Co)
  • "Yes. With economic conditions sliding down and budgets being cut we decided to hold off from refreshing PCs in 2009. The Vista debacle only solidified our resolve to wait and hold on for another year with our XP implementation...with hope for Windows 7." (Michael Woodford, Executive Director of IT for USANA Health Sciences, Inc.)
  • "Yes, we pushed from a 3-year plan in 2008 to 4-year in 2009.  We then further delayed to late 2009 to minimize depreciation in this year. We are about to make the purchase now." (Michael Spears, CIO for NCCI)

No

  • "No delay. In fact, this year we are replacing every PC in the organization (most were Pentium IIIs) with new dual core machines for staff and quad core for management. All running WinXP." (John Gracyalny, Director of IT for SafeAmerica Credit Union)
  • "No. We actually just made a refresh to include upgrade licenses to Windows 7." (Thomas Galbraith, Director of IT for US District Court So District of IL)
  • "Not in 2009, but we are looking to extend in 2010. We are not going to be proactive in replacements as we have in the past and instead will wait until for a support call to generate a replacement request." (Kevin, Leypoldt, IS Director for Structural Integrity Associates)
  • "No. Our business depends on timing, deliverable data, and efficiency. It would not save money, in the end, to delay refreshing older machines." (David Wilson, Director of IT for VectorCSP)
  • "We have not done anything to delay our PC refresh cycle. We are on track to replace one quarter of our desktop PCs this year as we have in past years. Of course, we are in higher education and our enrollments this year are solid. Our business cycles tend to be contrarian. When unemployment rises, colleges see increased enrollments." (Donna Trivison, Director of IT for Ursuline College)
  • "Our environment is evolving to either virtualization or thin client and the need to refresh PCs and laptops is becoming less important." (Dave Schartel, Director of IT for Home Health Care Management, Inc.)
  • "No. All equipment is leased so we see no cost benefit savings by delaying the refresh." (Lisa Moorehead, Director of IT for MA Dept of Public Utilities)
  • "No, but then again we weren't scheduled for a refresh this year." (Michael Foerst, CIO for Missouri Employers Mutual Insurance)
  • "No, we're actually in the process of creating a PC refresh cycle. We haven't had one until now." (David Van Geest, Director of IT for The Orsini Group)

Would you like to be part of TechRepublic's CIO Jury and have your say in the hottest issues for IT departments? If you are a CIO, CTO, IT director or equivalent at a large or small company in the private or public sector and you want to be part of TechRepublic's CIO Jury pool, drop us a line at ciojury@techrepublic.com.

About Jason Hiner

Jason Hiner is Global Editor in Chief of TechRepublic and Global Long Form Editor of ZDNet. He's co-author of the book, Follow the Geeks.

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