Virtual network image

PCs vs. DaaS: A Total Cost Analysis

Several years ago, IT managers and companies realized that they could drastically slash their IT budget by virtualizing much of their server architecture and infrastructure. The benefits were clearly and quickly apparent. After all, running servers in-house is expensive: from the physical costs of having a climate-controlled server room to the price of energy consumed to the cost of keeping maintenance staff on hand, the expenses can add up.

Hot on this success, many in the IT and managed services field began experimenting with taking virtualization to the next level with DaaS: Desktop as a Service. With DaaS, companies could, in theory, cut costs even more drastically than with virtualized servers. After all, most companies have significantly more PCs than servers in operation. Unfortunately, desktops and the infrastructure required to support them is significantly different from servers, and many of the cost offsets seen in server virtualization simply aren’t available when switching to DaaS. Fortunately, there are still plenty of savings to be found in using desktop virtualization, even if some of them are only apparent on a longer timeline.

Before moving into discussions of savings offered by DaaS, it’s important to quantify the total actual costs of your current fleet of PCs. A VMWorld white paper recently estimated that the costs of running a traditional PC run to roughly $1,281, with the vast majority of those costs being year-over-year management costs per computer per user, including power and IT labor. Another white paper by Citrix agrees, putting the yearly cost at $960. These yearly costs include maintenance just on the PCs themselves, and not costs on the networks and infrastructures that keep them operating. Included are things like physical relocation and adjustments, patching and upgrading software, reimaging drives and resolving issues, and back-ups and other preventative maintenance.

On top of the yearly costs is the price of the desktop itself. A full office desktop can cost anywhere from $150 for a barebones repurposed/refurbished model to $300 and up for new units. These costs can grow significantly if you have some employees that require specialized workstations. A desktop for a graphic artist, video editor, high-end developer, or data-analyst can easily run to over $1000, especially since few companies order enough of these specialty units to get large volume discounts. Additionally, if you DO virtualize some desktop functions, but do so in-house, you run the costs for server hardware and maintenance.

Enter DaaS. Much like SaaS (Software as a Service), the principle is that you outsource infrastructure and physical management, and instead manage only the software used on a pay-as-you-go model. Unlike more traditional desktop virtualization setups, you manage only the users and the desktop image which you use, instead of managing the users, the desktop image, and the physical servers and infrastructure. According to the VMWorld white paper, this has a huge impact on your management costs year over year. Whereas a traditional PC runs around $950 per year, a VDI (traditional virtual desktop service) will cost about $650. DaaS services manage to beat both, coming in at just over $300 per year in management costs. When viewed in a per user per desktop basis over a longer time-period, that savings of over $600 per year adds up to a much smaller IT budget.

On top of the savings from IT staff costs, DaaS also has a significant advantage in physical endpoint costs. Whereas typical PCs can cost hundreds of dollars, DaaS gives you the option of using thin clients, desktops that not only cost significantly less money than traditional PCs (between $50 to $100 per unit) but also require significantly less power and cut down on energy costs. A DaaS platform can also allow you to implement a safe, secure BYOD policy, cutting computing costs even more drastically. Since all work is done in a virtualized environment inside of a sandbox, the typical security worries involved with BYOD are greatly minimized.

All in all, DaaS is quickly turning into the future of computers in the office, and it’s clear why. A DaaS setup can cut total costs per user per PC by at least 30% in many organizations, and more for ones that did not have the most efficient PC management policy in the first place. While the technology is still young, it shows a lot of promise for drastically reducing IT budgets. Is it right for your company? Hard to say. It definitely will be in the next year or two, as the technology matures. But those who wait have to factor in losing out on a year or more of savings by early adopters.

iPhone 5

Top 6 iPhone 5 Complaints

The iPhone 5 hit the shelves earlier this fall, and the complaints hit social media soon thereafter. From aesthetics to navigation, users voiced their gripes with Apple’s latest iteration of its hyper-popular smartphone.

As time went on, the list of iPhone 5 gripes grew as long as the lines of consumers waiting outside an Apple store on release day. Here are the top 6 complaints about Apple’s iPhone 5.

1. Screen problems

Users have reported problems with their iPhone 5 screen, including a weird flickering that won’t go away. Others are saying that their screen appears to have an air bubble, as you can see in this video.

2. Light Leakage

Another widely reported issue with the iPhone 5 is light leakage from various points on the device. Some users see light through the gaps around the device’s antenna and power button. While the leak is only visible in low light, it’s still a problem for such a pricey device.

3. Scratches easily

Apple is known for creating products that are functional and beautiful. So, concerns about durability are especially surprising. However, many users have reported that their new iPhone 5 came out of the box with scuff marks. This iFixIt video shows how much more easily the iPhone 5 gets scratched compared to the iPhone 4.

4. Device is "too light"

This complaint is a bit odd, but it is a common gripe among users. One of the selling points for the new phone – according to Apple – is that it’s the lightest smartphone ever. But one of the points of frustration – according to consumers – is that it’s too light. Apparently heft = well-made in the eyes of iPhone users. Perhaps they fear the device is cheap and toy-like, even though Apple hoped its lighter weight would be a benefit.

5. Lightning Connector

Sometimes even technophiles don’t like change. Longtime Apple users have complained about the smaller connector port, called Lightning, on the iPhone 5 and new iPods. Now, users need new power cords, and the new devices won’t connect with older speakers and other accessories. Customers can buy Apple’s new $29 and $39 legacy docking solutions, which add a 7.8-inch wire – but many are irked that they have to purchase these extras at all.

6. Maps

One of the biggest complaints with the iPhone 5 is with its Maps app. The problems center around 3D and satellite images that look off (with bridges looking wavy, for example), navigation directions sending people to the wrong location, and outdated information on local businesses. Unlike Google Maps, Apple’s Maps app lacks transit directions, too.

Have you experienced any problems with the iPhone 5? What are your top six complaints (or praises) about your new smartphone?

How to Create an IT Outsourcing Contract

As outsourcing becomes the norm, many companies are working to incorporate the outsourcing process into their regular operations. Part of this process includes contracting employees and adhering to those contracts.

IT consulting and outsourcing companies usually work under a contract for a specific length of time, or until a project is completed. This contract is an agreement to perform services for a predetermined cost, and the service level agreement (SLA) outlines the details of this work.

Here is a guide for creating this basic, yet very important, document for IT outsourcing.

1. Specify the cost and scope of work

Contracts specify in plain terms what you will be paying for and how much you will pay for it. But, the actual contract doesn’t have to be too specific; save these details for the service level agreement. For ongoing services, you will likely pay a monthly rate for a defined period of time. Include a benchmarking provision, especially in a long-term contract, to be sure you are hitting goals. This provision will come in handy if you suspect that costs for already-contracted services have dropped below prior rates (something that happens often as technology improves); at this point, you can have rates evaluated by a third party.

2. Define how you will monitor work (work governance)

The contract should include provisions that state what will happen if service level requirements are not met, as well as how requirements will be monitored. However, having a contract in place does not mean you are off the hook for clear, regular communication. Communicating with your IT provider, or with your client, will help you avoid future headaches.

3. Make a plan to disengage

Expect the best, but prepare for the worst. Implementing the disengagement plan is the worst-case scenario, but you still need to create it. If you find you are no longer able to work together and need to terminate the contract, you will be glad you have this plan to refer to. This element is especially important in IT where a contractor has access to your information and infrastructure. Include ownership rights, transfers, and any other security concerns you might have. If your contract is large in scope or involves complex licensing issues, you may wish to have an attorney review it.

4. Document the Service Level Agreement

The SLA is the nuts and bolts of the transaction, specifying all the details that the contract doesn’t. This document should be specific and include concrete information such as how many hours a day the helpdesk will be available, or which days of the week service will be provided. If it is important, make sure it goes into the SLA.

A note about foreign outsourcing:

If you plan to outsource IT services to a foreign company, you need to be aware of certain legal issues. Since these providers are based overseas, U.S. contract law may not apply to some provisions. If you are a smaller company looking for helpdesk support, this issue may not concern you. However, if you are a larger company outsourcing data storage, you can expect to encounter foreign regulations at some point. It can be helpful to have an attorney review these types of contracts as well so you can be sure you are crystal clear on what you are contracting into.