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Controlling Desktop TCO


As we discussed in our last post, Microsoft will end support for Windows XP in April — and that represents a golden opportunity to reevaluate your desktop computing strategy. Organizations that still have XP machines in their environments should consider whether it’s best to replace them or if an alternative would provide greater value. The total cost of ownership (TCO) of desktop PCs can be substantial yet PCs generally don’t bring any strategic advantage to the organization.

Gartner Group is often credited with coining the term “total cost of ownership” in the late 1980s. When applied to IT, TCO is typically defined as the sum of the acquisition, implementation, management, support and use costs of technology. It acknowledges that purchase price is only one component, and often a very small component, of the cost of a device throughout its lifecycle.

Gartner’s original TCO analysis was designed to calculate how much the typical PC cost the typical enterprise. When the analyst firm came up with an initial value between $7,000 and $13,000 per user, IT and finance departments gasped.

Yes, PC hardware cost more in those days than it does today, but what really adds up are the recurring expenses for staff, infrastructure and maintenance. PCs have to be installed and configured, and end-users have to be trained. There are software licenses, maintenance contracts and other add-ons. Support has to be provided, either formally through the IT department or informally when users attempt to solve problems on their own. And then there is the cost of ensuring that systems are properly patched, updated and protected against security threats.

Streamlining the PC environment is the key to keeping these costs in check. The key is proper planning, deployment and management aimed at delivering maximum functionality at minimum cost. Here are four strategies that can lead to dramatic reductions in TCO while improving productivity and reducing risk:

  • Limit the number of PC models, operating systems and configurations by regularly refreshing desktop hardware and using a standardized “gold image” to install applications based upon the end-user’s profile. This will simplify desktop rollouts, reduce support headaches and ensure that software licenses are purchased only as needed.
  • Evaluate alternatives such as cloud clients for end-users who only need access to the web and cloud-based applications. These devices are smaller, cheaper and use less power than traditional PCs, and are updated automatically. IT is freed from the tasks of patching operating systems, installing and updating applications, and ensuring that data is protected on each and every desktop.
  • For end-users who typically are mobile, consider whether a dedicated desktop PC is needed. A mobile device may be adequate for day-to-day computing tasks, with one or more shared PCs available for occasional use.
  • Turn over administrative and troubleshooting tasks to a managed services provider such as ICG. Because of our streamlined processes and remote management tools, we can reduce the operational costs associated with your desktop environment while improving availability and alleviating headaches.

The experts at ICG can help you analyze the TCO of your desktop PCs and find ways to rein in the capital costs and management issues associated with the traditional desktop environment.