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Hardware standardization - Managing an organizations desktop hardware

By steve.colson ·
With all the different PC makes and models out there it?s becoming more and more difficult to manage multiple hardware platforms on a large scale (500 to 600 pc?s). Hence, causing the need for a hardware standardization rule, acquisition standard for future purchases within our company.

I realize things like 3rd party software, operating system, and budget play a large role in this decision. I?m also aware that this transition will take from 3 to 5 years to accomplish. Currently we purchase exclusively from Dell (contract for 2004) and are buying Win2K Pro desktop O/S Pentium IV PC?s.

I?m looking for a template to follow or any suggestions you might have to aide me in directing the procurement of desktop PC?s in the future, with a standard model across the organization. This might include an Minimum level PC, for users who only run MS Office to check email, to the High end PC that has CAD, Modeling S/W, and all the other H/W intensive apps.
I?m open for suggestions, comments, and any feedback you might have. Also if you have any reference material or know of any links that might help. Thank you, Steve

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The only thing consistent is change

by TheChas In reply to Hardware standardization ...

The biggest problem with ANY PC standardization effort is the short life of most PC models.

I'm sure that you have noticed that the same model PC from Dell purchased 6 months apart can have different internal components.

That said, your basic concept is sound.

Stick with 1 hardware vendor for systems.
Then, every 6 months or so, select a core system that is a reasonable compromise between price and performance.

Chas

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IMAGE

by adrain.l.parker In reply to The only thing consistent ...

Using a product such as Norton's you can configure your image and load all additional drivers for each computer/maker you have on the one image. This will allow you to load 2k/xp onto any system, make adjustments to the drivers installed once system comes up. The O.S. will load on any machine, the driver's are located on the C drive, just go out and update drivers that are not configured properly once the image is downloaded to your hardware.

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Well

by Chris.. In reply to Hardware standardization ...

I applaude you for making this effort. I wish more companies would! Getting into a 3-4 year rotation cycle will save you a ton of cash and that makes the powers that be rather happy.

Here are a couple of things to consider...

1. Thin Client and Terminal services or Citrix MetaFrame.

This offers a way to hold on to the older systems and not have to have a new PC at every location. Thin Client devices are C H E A P and easy to maintain, no OS loads, no software loads, no patching etc.. if the hardware fails, you pull the device and put a new one in it's place.

A TS and or MetaFrame environment offers killer TCO and ROI when compaired to new PC class devices. Also there is centralized management and just a ton of other wiz bang features that make life easy for your helpdesk/sys admins and desktop folks.

2. Product life cycle and road maps

Pull your vendors in and insist on a product road map. Look at the life span of the whole system. Are they going to change Motherboards or other components on you within 12 months? If so it isn't worth purchasing that system because your image management will drive your people INSANE! Not to mention it takes you right back to where you are with the exception of the name or color of the PC.

3. Be prepared to hagle! My favorite is something like this... Look, I'm going to replace 600+ systems over the next three years, call it 200 systems +/- per year, I want to average the total price of the system for 12 months and pay that average from the start.

This approach works. If you can forcast your purchasing that makes the life of the reseller Super easy.

4. Consider your VAR closely. Make them compete for the job. Don't rape them on the numbers, they have to earn a living too, but it is very realistic to have 3 or mor VAR's compete.

Beware of the Dell and Gateway black holes... Dell could care less (or so it appears to me) about the small medium businesses of America. Gateway, well they're getting better but they still have the same bacic issue as Dell. If you want a vendor that can really take care of you, CDW is the Vendor by which I judge all others! They treate the Small Business as good as they treat the big ones.

Just realize that you are going to commit yourself to a manufacturer and more than likely a model line for 3+ years.

Also realize that if you manage it, a Lease is a good way to go and it lets you recycle your environment on a fairly set time frame. It does take good record keeping and asset management, but personally it is the way I like to pay for this type of effort.

Good Luck

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Dual Vendor Stratergy

by brettmca In reply to Hardware standardization ...

depending on the size of your organisation you should maybe opt for a dual vendor stratergy where you use 2 vendors for your workstation procurement where you choose for example Dell and HP. This will give you competitive pricing. So what you do is get a quote from each vendor and choosing the best quote and let the assets depreciate over a 3 year period.

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"flexible" Standards

by bd134492 In reply to Hardware standardization ...

1) You need to evaluate what the systems will be used for.
The company I work for recently standardized on 2 systems for our corporation, a desktop and a laptop. The chosen systems for the next year are a DELL GX60 desktop (2.4G Celeron) and a D600 laptop.
While I applaud the standardization effort and agree that it works for most folks in the sales and administration roles it doesn't work well for engineeering. Obviously, developing software or doing CAD on a Celeron based system just doesn't cut it so we folks in engineering have decided which models we will buy based on job role. Software developers get P4 3GHz GX270 models and CAD folks get Precision 360 workstations with high end graphics cards.

2) Find a vendor that will work with you. Whether it be Dell, Gateway or some other entity find someone that meets your needs and responds to your requests. If you have a hard time contacting someone when you are trying to spend money, you will probably have trouble finding support after they have your money. You should not have to chase after a vendor to buy something from them.

3) Get a service contract to cover the life of the machine and build it into the purchase price. This will lower your repair costs over the 3 years or 4 years as the cost of maintneace agreements upfront a low compared to the repair costs later on.

4) With regard to (3) above, find out what the service is like. Being located in Canada as I am I have had great sucess with DELL as they have a parts depot in Canada and I can have parts in under 4 hours, or before 8:00 AM next day. Gateway always shipped me parts out of California, by courier ground, to their depot in Canada where it was then reshipped to me. I typically would not see a part for around 7 days after I needed it.
Telling someone you have have their PC repaired by sometime next week does not go over well.

5) PC models change faster than fashion designs. Get your Vendors roadmap and get a commitment to buy the same model over a 12 month period. For example, if your vendors PC models change every June plan your purchase cycle to correspond with their model cycle.

6) Get some good asset management software to track your hardware and software base. It is a lot easier to do this starting with a new PC than trying to do it after the fact (boy do I know that!)

7) Create a baseline installation that every PC must have. For example, decide what security patches, virus scanner etc you are going to use and insist that every PC installation has it installed before you connect it to the network.

Barry

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Let me build on this

by itctonguy In reply to "flexible" Standards

Barry has excellent suggestions, let me just take a few of them a step further. As far as setting up with specific vendors, you should definitely shop around. Our company has not yet consolidated our IT budget, so we are forced to buy separately. Consider this: if you buy from Dell already, ask about getting a premier dell account (if you don't already have one). This is free, and offers you a much wider variety when buying, selling, getting tech support, etc. It's like a little portal from dell for your corporation to handle all it's business with Dell from one place. (Sorry, I digress!) My point is, Dell offers a service called Factory Integration, which basically can involve either hardware or software (or both) agreements where every machine shipped to you will match one of several of your predefined standard 'package' machines. I don't know how long they offer this service, but it sounds like something that could be right up your alley, especially since I remember you saying you already do business with Dell. Good luck with your undertaking, and let us know how it turns out!

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Impossible to standardize?

by jdunys In reply to Hardware standardization ...

After more than 20 years in the industry, I finally gave up with
the standardization business. Models change so much, due to
difference in processor, disk space, etc. Added to the fact that if
one want to keep purchasing a defined configuration, one will
have to pay a premium, because the hardware has evolved and
prices have fallen...
The solution we found is, for Windows platform, to use a
combination of disk or partition image - Acronis is just simply
amazing - and a good sysprep. And it works for servers. This
way, when a system packs up, you buy the latest PC coming, you
run the image restore from Acronis, and when the PC restarts,
the OS installation kicks in just to check the hardware
components, but the applications and settings are similar from
PC to PC.
Otherwise, standardize on the Mac platform, which integrates
extremely well in W2K server platform.

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