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Choosing the right infrastructure – Part1

There’s no right answer to this question, but there are plenty of wrong answers. We’ll try and provide you with a balanced view and some key considerations that you need to take into account before you decide what the right answer is for your business.

We’re going to make some assumptions here before we start:

  • you’ve selected the applications that you need to run your business and you’re now choosing the infrastructure to run it on.
  • you have sufficient in-house skills to manage the IT environment or you’ve negotiated a good Managed Services agreement with a local provider.

The first thing you need to decide on is what are the most important components of your new infrastructure and where will they be located. Some considerations are:

  • Is the application available as Software as a Service (SaaS) and is this something I want to consider?
  • What security do I need (both physical – for my machines and logical – for my data)?
  • Does my primary application only run on a specific operating system?
  • Do my staff have experience with a particular desktop operating system?
  • How much training will be required?
  • Do my staff require access to desktop applications that only run (or run better) on a specific desktop operating system?
  • Do we need mobile devices that interact/interface better with a specific operating system? (i.e Windows Phone7 syncs better with Windows 7 than Mac OS X or Linux)
  • Is using Open Source software a priority for my organisation? (this could be for cost or philosophical reasons).
  • Do I need to run a specific browser (such as Internet Explorer) to access the application that I want to run?
  • Is power consumption a key factor in my decision making (are we a green organisation)?
  • Do I need to transfer/transmit specific document types between my business and other parties? Does this impact on my application/desktop OS choice?
  • Is my desktop environment visible to customers and are aesthetics an important factor in my decision making process? (e.g. an Art Studio may feel strongly about having aesthetically pleasing desktop infrastructure visible to clients)
  • Availability of support personnel and replacement parts
  • What is the upgrade path for my investment 
  • Useful life of hardware
  • Upfront, ongoing costs and total cost of ownership
  • Environmental factors (cooling, dust, lighting)
  • Accessibility (for disabled users)

There are bound to be other questions that are useful too but those above are a good start. It is highly likely that if you ask yourself these questions and answer them (with or without the assistance of an IT professional) you’ll quickly determine if you can rule out any of the available options. Once we know what’s off the table, we can start to look at the pros and cons of the remaining options and a simple weighted scorecard approach is usually the best to select the platform.

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