IT Asset Management – no set approach to PC refresh?
Organizations vary hugely in their approaches to refreshing their PCs and laptops. Some of those we have come across over the years include –
- Fixed term. Irrespective of the performance of a system, when it reaches X months age, it goes. We see this in school districts, where a straightforward and easily implemented regime is needed to match low staffing resources, but it does require accurate tracking of the PC inventory so their location is known when their time comes to be recycled.
- Organization-wide replacement with a new ‘standard’ configuration. We haven’t seen much of this recently, but at one time it was almost an act of desperation by IT managers attempting to achieve PC standardization through their organization and – they hoped – some stability. This was only ever partially successful because any expansion to the estate a few months later usually involved an updated configuration from the hardware manufacturer. It was massively expensive and could be very disruptive.
- Rolling replacement. Generally prioritized by age, the organization refreshes N PCs every month, with a backroom assembly line responsible for configuring and issuing the new machines at a fixed rate. Typically the entire PC inventory would be replaced on average every four years.
- Replacement triggered by a new OS roll-out. As reliability has improved, the imperative to replace at a fixed age has softened, and organizations have been happier to conserve cash and only refresh their PCs when forced to by the demands of new operating system software. But Vista was largely bypassed by many organizations, and systems running XP kept the lights on, breaking what for some had become something of a routine. Slavish renewal driven by the next Windows iteration is gone for good.
The reality for many is a blend of these patterns, but Windows 7 was hailed by hardware manufacturers suffering from the downturn as the trigger for a resurgence in orders. Will this be likely to ever happen again, a surge in hardware replacements driven by an edition of Windows? Rather, are we to expect a progressive uptake of browser-hosted SaaS IT to make the PC’s OS less important? Will the hardware configuration itself become less important? Disk space – so easy to consume with local applications and data – should be replaced with resources out on the Web somewhere (whether in the nature of cloud computing or vanilla Web-based apps).
ITAM – foundation PC inventory information for building an informed strategy
Against this backdrop of unprecendented uncertainty as to where IT will be in five years’ time, there has never been a stronger requirement for having a fundamental level of IT asset management in place to understand the IT estate, to understand what applications are used, how much and by who, and the resources in use. While some organizations are working on advanced license management processes, others struggle to answer these simple questions. With the cost-effective and easily-deployed tools available today, there really is no excuse for ignorance of your organization’s IT assets.