It’s a tight budget year. We’re trying to build two schools and a new fine arts center. Add to that the fact that we’re facing funding cuts and inflation, and our education dollars just aren’t going as far as they once did. Despite these pressures, I keep getting requests from principals and department heads for additional computers. I would love to provide them everything they want, but the funds will only go so far.
So, at our last principals meeting I tried to impress upon our staff all of the costs involved in putting one computer on our school’s network. This was nowhere near as comprehensive as the Gartner Group’s Total Cost of Ownership calculations, but it got the point across. I thought it might be worthwhile to repeat it here.
- Hardware – computer and monitor
- Extended Warranty
- MS-Office Licensing – we purchase a copy for each new computer as needed
- Deployment – setup, unboxing, imaging, asset tags
- Curriculum software licensing
- Novell Network and Groupwise e-mail licensing
- Internet Filtering
- Anti-Spam software
- Data port connections – about $200 per active port (usually covered in construction and other costs, but may come into play if additional ports are needed.)
- Replacement/Refresh Costs – computers are replaced every five years
- Disposal at end-of-life – involves data security, recycling, hazardous waste disposal, etc.
- Personnel and support costs
Some of these costs aren’t very much. But when you multiply them by the number of computers we’re purchasing, it can be significant. For example, an additional item at $5 multiplied by 800 computers becomes $4000 additional charge.
Here are some specific scenarios, and my questions & answers –
Our group has received $XXXX.XX as part of a grant. Can we buy some more computers?
Even if the grant can cover most of the hidden costs of putting the computers on the network, what will happen when it comes time to renew/refresh that computer? Do you plan to keep it until just stops working? What happens then? Will your grant funds be available five years from now when were decide to remove the computer or it breaks?
Can we just keep our old computers and use them until they die?
Been there, done that, and it’s never, never pretty. Let’s say you’re a teacher with two computers in a classroom. Those two computers are refreshed with new ones, but they let you keep the old ones. You now get used to having four computers in the classroom. When the two old ones die, inevitably the teacher wants new ones as a replacement, but they have already been “replaced” once. It avoids many problems by simply swapping out the computers.
Walmart’s got a sale on computers for $299. Let’s just go get a bunch of those.
Part of that total cost of ownership includes the time involved in setting up and maintaining a fleet of computers. When computers go on sale like this, they may have differing components inside, even though they bear the same name plate and model number. Those often require different drivers, and can cause big headaches if you try to use the same disk image. Setup of different computers would require hours of time beyond what would be required for a consistent install base.
So, by now I’m starting to sound like Mordac, the Preventer of Technology. I would love to provide our users with all the computers, peripherals, etc., that they want. However, I can’t spend money I don’t have. It’s days like this that I wonder why I left the classroom.
One thought on “Total Cost of Ownership”
Tom, I certainly understand your budget constraints and need to find a lower TCO solution for your school. As Sr. Product Marketing Manager at Novell, it’s a need we hear from our customers regularly, and having worked with several in the education industry, was wondering if you’ve ever considered making the switch from Windows to Linux?
At Novell, we offer SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop, the market’s only enterprise-quality Linux that offers leading market-usability, seamless interoperability with Windows, and dozens of essential productivity applications including an office suite, web browser, email, instant messenger, multimedia, photo management, among others. By adopting SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop from Novell, we’ve helped businesses to dramatically reduce costs, improve end user-security, and increase productivity. You may want to check out more about our desktop Linux solutions at http://www.novell.com/linux/desktop.
In addition, we have a great success story in which we partnered with Lenovo to deliver laptops pre-loaded with SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop to students at San Diego Unified School District, the second largest school district in California, in order to meet the education and mobility needs for the school’s Always-On Learning initiative. You want want to check this out at: http://tinyurl.com/4p8jvp
Finally, regarding TCO savings, I’d love to point you to one of our technology partners, Omni Technology Solutions. They’ve created a Linux vs. Windows TCO calculator on their website (http://www.omni-ts.com/linux-desktop/tco-calculator.html), that shows how much customers can save through a Multiple SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop solution. For instance, in a typical scenario of 30 stand-alone Windows PCs in a classroom, replacing those PCs with 5-6 Multiplied SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop solution could achieve northwards of a 60% TCO savings. They have a very strong track record of helping out customers in the education vertical — http://www.omni-ts.com/success.html#linux-computer-lab
Hope this provides helpful information — feel free to contact me if you need any more information.