A local business with 30 employees and three separate offices requiring an update of their office systems
Due to the end of life for support of the current software versions, in particular Windows 2003, Windows XP, Office 2003 and SQL Server 2005 plus desktop PC's and servers which were beginning to show their age quotations had been sought for the upgrade of the entire business to the latest releases and equipment.
The cost was not modest and as such I was asked to provide advice around the proposed solution and to offer alternatives.
Having conducted a brief review of the business requirements it was apparent that of the 30 staff members, the majority did not require Microsoft Office and could make do with an open source solution such as Libre Office which might lower costs. Only Power Users in accounting roles or those with the need for third party Excel add-ins would be needing Microsoft Office licenses.
Some of the less demanding users could also continue to use their older computers by replacing the unsupported Windows XP software with an alternative such as Ubuntu Linux or Linux Mint, as with Microsoft Office, the need to purchase new, more powerful hardware could be limited to the power users, even if only for the shorter term until more funds were available.
The use of virtualised servers in place of multiple physical machines was proposed along with consideration being given to hosting data in a cloud environment and replacement of legacy software systems with Software as a Service (SaaS) alternatives with the aim of lowering IT maintenance charges.
Whilst not all of the suggestions needed to be implemented, there was considerable value in considering the alternatives to the solutions proposed by the incumbent service provider and thinking about the day to day requirements of the users in the business, some of whom only rely on applications such as email and their web browser for the majority of their workday tasks. The cost of installing brand new equipment and costly Windows and Office licenses for these users could be money wasted in an age where more and more work can be carried out within the web browser, regardless of operating system choice.