Older IT equipment? It’s more viable than ever!
Older IT equipment? It’s more viable than ever!

While everyone flocks to talk about how mobile is taking over everywhere, and in many roles, this is absolutely so, we are seeing a very interesting trend when it comes to classic desktops and servers.

It used to be that vendors, and their reseller partners, were very focused on “Evergreen”.  The customer would buy a new piece, or hundreds of pieces, of gear, get an uplift to the warranty to advanced exchange or onsite service for the core term, and at the end of that term, the now “old” gear would be swapped out for new equipment, and the customer would just continue paying money every month.

Fascinating concept.  Good for vendors.  Maybe good for clients, if their demands were changing significantly in the period.  However as finances become tighter, as companies struggle to get longer returns out of their investments, we see the majority of business unable to sustain an evergreen model.

The data tells us that this is so.  Desktop, and even laptop, computers are being used longer than ever.  Even servers, the former poster children for technology rotation, no longer rotate with the same expediency.  The reason is simple.  They are still capable of doing the job.  With the explosion in server virtualization and the recent push to desktop virtualization, putting the newest and fastest on every desk and in the data centre is no longer the number one priority.

This shift is understandably problematic for manufacturers who want and sometimes need to see shorter production life cycles.  Some OEMs have gone so far as to make it impossible for individuals and independent service providers to even get access to firmware updates while the warranty remains in place.  This is, in our opinion, very customer hostile behaviour, but in the end the customer decides with his or her chequebook how bad this is for their business.   Once the warranty is over and the manufacturer no longer cares, these former “great secrets” become publicly available.  Not necessarily because the manufacturer is suddenly all customer lovey-dovey, but in some places, failing to do so would engage government watchdogs to start digging for “opportunities”.

We also know that there is little interest on the part of manufacturers to maintain infrastructure to service and support not only the current offerings but especially those out of warranty.  Some, resort to tactics of fear, uncertainty and doubt, to cause customers to upgrade even where there is no compelling business need to do so.

We see the ability to get more life out of the investments you’ve made to be a good thing.  Even if you can avoid the new buy for 12 months, that’s your money being used for more pressing items.  This is where independent service providers can really make the difference.  We can service the out of warranty products that still work for you every day at a fraction of what the manufacturer would charge, even if the manufacturer was even interested in doing so.  Many manufacturers make business decisions not to do this service directly but will still offer the service, and then hire companies, just like us, to deliver the service.  Either way, the customer gets longer, supported life out of the investment and saves the investment, or at least delays the spend, on equipment that the business does not really need.

Even in our own shop, we buy older tech for our users.  They have virtual desktops, we don’t need expensive new desktops.  All the device does is boot and connect to a terminal server and the user’s desktop experience is delivered consistently wherever and whenever the user is.  Because the core workloads don’t change, Excel remains Excel, web apps are still web apps, we don’t need to upgrade our server data centre as often either.  It keeps the money on the positive side of the balance sheet.

This architectural trend does require good design in virtual infrastructure and network performance is more critical than ever but we are finding the same thing as are many of our customers.  We are able to get better financial return, and because we are a service company, it’s very cost-effective for us to keep this equipment running.  It can be exactly the same outcome for you.  Manage your spend appropriately, we’re here to help you get every day you need out of the gear you already own.

Thanks kindly for reading.  Until next time, peace.

Ross Chevalier