Equipment shortages, and notices of “end of life” or “end of sale” are becoming more and more common in the business world, as companies face tough decisions on replacing or removing their aging technology. Couple this with the increasing hype around virtualizing, moving to the cloud, and subscribing to technology “as a service” , and it’s no wonder that businesses are scratching their heads about their tech strategy.
Is it just a marketing ploy? Are the IT and communication companies doing this on purpose just to make another sale?
Rather than panic and invest out of a knee-jerk reaction, companies need to analyze the reasons why hardware is doing a disappearing act, so that they can create a future-proof strategy for their IT and telecom needs.
So what’s happening? Why is everyone pushing to migrate hardware into a new form?
Well, who remembers video cameras? It used to be quite exciting to see someone with a video camera…. Roughly the size of a briefcase and balanced precariously on their shoulder...maybe they were an undercover reporter, a movie maker, or at least a very wealthy individual. Back then, not just anyone could own a piece of equipment like that!
Then it all changed when video camera technology shrunk into smaller, personal camcorders. Now almost anyone could afford to film their own home movies. Sleek, affordable, and small enough to hold in one hand, this advancement made it possible to record endless hours of picnics, family reunions and practical jokes.
So where are all the camcorders now? Nowhere. They’re completely forgotten and totally useless now because every person over the age of 10 has a camera built into one... if not several... other devices. Technology has a habit of shrinking smaller and smaller over time until it almost disappears as it attaches itself parasitically onto other technology. Case in point: cell phones. Think of all the pieces of equipment (BESIDES a telephone!) that are now hidden inside the sleek little sliver of a phone in your pocket: video camera, still shot camera, voice recorder, pager, radio, compass, flashlight, GPS navigator, pedometer, calculator, etc., etc., etc.
So why would it be any different with any other piece of technology equipment?
Large, bulky pieces of hardware can now be reduced down to a slim card and housed in one box, or chassis with many other slim, card-like piece of technology. What used to take many energy-greedy servers can now be economically housed in one main server.
Would you rather buy, store, maintain, and pay the electric bill for 20 separate computers each running a single function, or have one that covers all 20? By virtualizing, that is exactly what you can do.
Everything is temporary and sure to change– employees, company roles and job titles, lease agreements and locations, corporate policies and operations. Because of this cyclical nature of life as we know it, reducing or eliminating hardware theat powers our business applications keeps a company agile and nimble on it’s feet. For organizations that don’t have specialized IT experts on the payroll who can spend time programming, reprogramming, and reconfiguring the equipment to accommodate all these changes, utilizing technology “as a service” models makes perfect sense. Let the experts do it for you, and you carry on with the hundred other items on your to-do list.
In many cases, the technology you need can be available as a a service for much less than if you tried to own it. For example: unified communication platforms. Businesses need to email, message, call, conference, chat, screen share, and collaborate both internally and externally on a daily basis, and from any location. But each of these functions needs a separate piece of equipment in itself. By utilizing UCaaS (unified communications as a service) platforms on a per-user subscription basis, this functionality is affordable for even small organizations. This is what the cloud is all about. It means using the expensive equipment in someone else’s building, so that you can do the same things without having to buy it.
Be careful though…..not every cloud service is sure to save you money, and not every application is ready to be virtualized. Some organizations do well to refresh their hardware to the latest versions and keep the equipment. In some instances, it could be more economical and efficient to run a server and voice switch on premises, rather than paying monthly for each end-user through a hosted cloud service. If there are many locations that would need separate pieces of hardware at each site, however, it might make more sense to bypass the equipment and let a big company supply the features. This is where there needs to be a comprehensive analysis of an organization's operations, current IT needs, and a consideration of projected company goals and initiatives.
A deeper dive with an experienced consultant will provide a clear picture of the pros and cons for your individual needs.
So how do you know what to keep, what to virtualize, and what to move to the cloud?
Don’t fret– even though every organization has unique needs, there are still some general guidelines and principles that help to narrow down the best direction for your organization. Stay tuned for part 2 for some help on how to create your own tech road map.