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Monday, 27 February 2012 17:36

Damn that asset list!



Too often it seems, the incumbent equipment is top of mind when a vendor proposes some phantastical new solution.


IT journalists gathered at the annual Kickstart event have been treated to presentation after presentation offering the prospect of amazing savings for SMBs.


Note to the unwary - SMB stands for "small to medium business," but unfortunately that's where any agreement amongst vendors ends.  Some define it as 1 to 500 person organisations, others 10 to 300 still others 1 to 10.  It all depends on how the vendor wants to define his target market; and SMB is the only generic term available.

Generally, the larger definitions comer from US-centric organisations who seem to think that any company under 1000 people is 'small.'  Heck, I've worked for two reasonably well-known publicly listed Australian companies - one had 200 employees; the other 400.  However, for the purposes of this 'rant,' I'd like to localise to the Australian / New Zealand markets and set the size of a typical SMB to be 5 - 50 employees - that cuts out the home office / back room businesses, and it also treats the larger organisations as 'adults.'

Anyway, back to the savings.

We hear of Cloud solution vendors that propose pushing everything to the cloud; having little or no equipment on-site; never mind that that Thursday's Dodo-inspired Telstra outage would have left these companies dead in the water with no connection to their services and no-one to complain to (see 'SLA' on the next page).

We hear telephony vendors extolling the virtues of cloud-centric VoIP solutions as if they are some latter-day St George ready to put both the Telstra and Optus dragons to the sword.

And all these vendors, touting their glad-bags of riches and cost savings, struggle to understand why they are carefully listen to; and then totally ignored.

Of course none of these vendors has come right out and said this to the assembled media throng, but the undercurrent is strong.


Our typical SMB probably doesn't have on-site IT support - it's quite a hefty overhead for a small company; but they will have access to a highly mobile consultant who makes it his business to advise, install and manage systems for these businesses - I've met a number of these people and they're generally very good and very efficient at what they do.


In addition to these consultants (more about them below), our friendly SMB has a back room stuffed with a variety of servers, communications systems and all manner of 'retired' equipment.

And it is that back room which represents the biggest obstacle to our happy throng of white knights and cloud wielders.  For just about every piece of kit in that room is enshrined on the company owner's asset list.

That list is his baby.  It is a very clear representation of the blood, sweat and money he has poured into his business.  More than that, it is probably only partially depreciated (thanks Mr Taxman for taking longer to depreciate computer kit than its useful life!), meaning that it still has a clear dollars-and-cents value to the company.

And our vendors are asking the business to put all that equipment to the side; to turn it off and never use it again.  That's a very big ask.

My advice to these organisations trying to sell such new services?  Find a creative and meaningful use for this kit - that one small step will make the owner far happier and get him on-side far quicker and ready for your giant leap.

Oh, and make sure there's still a role for the consultant - his hip pocket might take a battering and you don't want him in the ear of the business owner white-anting your proposal; for you may be very sure that the owner will take your proposal to him for his thoughts and analysis.


The author is attending Kickstart as a guest of MediaConnect.


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David Heath

David Heath has had a long and varied career in the IT industry having worked as a Pre-sales Network Engineer (remember Novell NetWare?), General Manager of IT&T for the TV Shopping Network, as a Technical manager in the Biometrics industry, and as a Technical Trainer and Instructional Designer in the industrial control sector. In all aspects, security has been a driving focus. Throughout his career, David has sought to inform and educate people and has done that through his writings and in more formal educational environments.



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