Just say BOO to TCO for PCs; real cuts are lower than you think

So I contend that the true cost of ownership for that old PC actually is just a hair
over $500 per year. Although it isn't networked, I can't believe network management and
maintenance would really add $9,500 per year.

 But suppose the consultants are right, and a single PC does cost $10,000 per year to
own. What is all the extra money paying for?

 Recently, a small business owner retained me to look over a network contract that
proposed a charge of $13,000 per year to maintain hardware and software on a $50,000 Unix
network installation.

 The maintenance involved making monthly changes to forms and other sophisticated
software, and the cost was $3,000 per year per machine, including a Sun Microsystems Inc.
server, plus an extra $1,000 per year per workstation for the amortized purchase price.
Grand total: $4,000 per year per workstation for a client-server installation with fairly
high software maintenance.

 How could it cost an average government office doing mostly database and word
processing so much more, especially when agency forms don't change every month?

 I just don't see how the cost could get up to $10,000 per PC per year unless an
office jumped on the upgrade treadmill, installing every new version of every program that
came along and replacing hardware on a yearly basis.

 Personally, I think the high TCO values are being noised around to scare government
offices into tossing out PCs and replacing them with network computers or outsourcing
operations.

 Before you swallow such inflated estimates, make a commonsense evaluation of your
actual TCO. If it seems close to the estimated $10,000 per PC per year, rethink your
hardware upgrade policies.

 John McCormick, a free-lance writer and computer consultant, has been working
with computers since the early 1960s. 


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