Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Seven questions your IT company should ask when purchasing a new server

Computers and technology are running the world now and there are few families or businesses that doesn’t use computers. Internet and websites are ruling the planet and they have made life much more comfortable and easy. All of us know that computers run on servers and there is a huge network behind it. Many companies look at purchasing new servers for their computers and they run from one company to another to get the best. But how would you know if the IT company is good enough to give you a server that takes care of your requirements? There are a few things your IT company should ask you in return when you are purchasing a new server and that checklist would prove whether you have approached the right company or not.

   1. Would you like us to create a scope of your requirements?

Your IT Company should first offer their services to perform a scoping exercise and would first assess your network and will conduct a full review of the technology you use in your work place. When the assessment is done, they would know your requirements and will finalize on the kind of a new server you would need. Proper planning and understanding of your business is critical and will save you money buying wrong solution. Never buy a server randomly without doing your homework as there maybe compatibilities issues with existing solutions that need to be resolved.

   2. What kind of car do you drive?

Just like buying a car there are many different models with different prices, and you want a solution built with your budget in mind. A good IT company will offer you the best solution within your budget. We all want 99.9999% up time but how much are we prepared to spend to minimise that risk, there is normally a compromise based on the budge you have. Sometimes, you might wish to go beyond your budget and get a better server. In that case, there are many changes and the IT Company will give you options to choose from.  You need to consider if you want an estimate on the labour of a fixed price quote that includes all the labour or would you rather take the risk on an estimate to get the job done cheaper or would you prefer to know exactly what you are up for upfront. I have found more clients prefer a fixed price quote.  Does the quote cover post install? There is generally a lot of work for a couple of weeks after the install and some IT companies include this in the price and others charge you for everything after the server goes life which can be an expensive option.

   3. How do you license your software?

Licensing of Microsoft products can be a challenge and it is critical that your IT Company understands and can explain and recommend the best options once they have an understanding of your business.

   4. How would you like to pay for your server?

You should be given the option to lease the equipment. This can be good for business cash flow but make sure you read the lease agreement and use a lease company that has been around for a while. You would be required to give a personal guarantee and is going to be easier if you have been in business for a while.

   5. Have you heard about virtualisation and would you be interested in virtualising your servers to consolidate hardware?

If you have or need more than a single server either now or in the next three to four years virtualisation can consolidate your servers reduced power and cooling costs. Virtualisation software comes from a number of different companies and you will hear products like Hyper-V, VMWare and ZenServer. The basics come free but you should expect to pay for the more powerful features for larger installations and support.

   6. How long would you like your warranties?

Depending on the components a 3 year warranty on hardware is pretty normal but you can upgrade to a 4 or 5 year warranty. Even if you plan to upgrade your hardware every 3-4 years having a 5 year warranty does give you time to make a decision. Getting parts without a warranty can be a slow and expensive process so it is important that you plan for the server’s end of life.

   7. Would you like to have an ongoing managed services or flat rate agreement?

Ensuring that your server is pro-activity managed by your IT company using 24x7 remote monitoring software and a services desk like EzPSA is critical. The cost to your business from lost revenue caused by a server not working or being hacked, is too much of a business risk for a business not consider.  You need to be able to log calls for service as well as track and view the status of your calls and will want to have a regular reporting to see what your IT company is doing to ensuring you are running smoothly.

You need to ensure the IT Company is working for what is best for your business and not just trying to make a sale. Having an IT provider you can trust is critical to your businesses success.

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