Byte Me Article 297 – Where Do You Start

Plan Ahead For Business Needs

For the last two weeks we have looked at the growing pains that small businesses face with their IT systems as they expand from smaller to larger operations.  Next week I will get back to writing about IT topics that are more relevant to the average reader so bear with me while I make this the last business focused article for a while.

We often come across the situation of a business having spent a large amount of money on network and server systems that has not really given them much benefit and we have seen this again this week.  A large local business has spent thousands on IT equipment and labour costs and been sold absolute junk.

We walk into this mess and are asked to get things running properly, however the business has already spent their IT budget for the year.  So where do we start and where do we stop?  In this case every IT Pandora’s Box that we open is junk.  It is a network that has been added to at random without anyone pulling up at any stage and formulating an overall plan.

So exactly what is wrong?  There are currently a total of 5 separate server boxes running the business and 3 of them are ancient (6 years old plus).  There are 2 new servers that are literally a quarter as powerful as they should be to perform their current tasks.  All operations are taking sometimes twice as long and sometimes 10 times as long as they should.

The new servers often lock up because they are overtaxed.  Windows downloading an update is enough to bring the servers to their knees.  Backups are failing as they are taking in excess of 10 hours to run each day.  It is near impossible to convey how big a disaster this situation has become.

So how do you fix this?  We had several round tables and deliberated over this mess for some time and the resulting conclusions were always to throw most stuff out or reappropriate several servers to become workstations and start again.  What a waste I hear you saying!  Yes – it is a waste of the business’ money in the first place through very poor advice and a lack of IT ability.

For this customer we have had to offer a ‘no upfront cost’ new server / network system that we totally supply and support ourselves with just one monthly payment over the next few years.  So we will supply one physical server with 8 high speed SAS drives, 96GB of ram and 24 CPU cores.  This server will run everything and run it fast.

If you like an analogy then to fix the existing would have be akin to pulling apart a Friday build Russian Lada Niva to make it into something powerful, reliable and fast!  Do you see what I mean?  You would spend way more than the cost of a proper replacement to make this car good – and what would the customer drive while it is pulled apart?

If you run a business and are quickly or slowing expanding, take a moment in time to consider where your IT is at present and where it needs to be in 3 years’ time.  Then fill in the blanks in-between with a logical progression of sound investments. 

Future Byte Me topics can be emailed to [email protected] and Bruce is contactable at Kerr Solutions, 205 Musgrave Street or on 49 222 400.

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