Even though total cost of ownership (TCO) does concern the majority of respondents in the latest Computerworld 1000 Survey, only 10 are considering buying NCs or NetPCs as a solution to their problems in the next few years.
Twenty-five of the 30 companies surveyed say TCO is an important issue but 14 say they will not look at NCs or NetPCs and six are unsure. While the NC-NetPC debate has stirred up interest in the issue, few New Zealand companies are keen to be on the “bleeding edge” when it comes to installing them.
Comalco’s Nick Hunn has been following the debate. “We’re a relatively small operation, so we’re adopting a ‘wait and see’ attitude,” says Hunn. His approach is echoed across the industry.
Allied Foods has roughly 200 PCs across New Zealand, and sees a return to the centralised model of the last decade. It is currently assessing whether to upgrade to NCs or NetPCs connected to a central server.
But not everyone feels TCO is an issue. Five respondents say it has no impact on their businesses, one going so far as to say “TCO is grossly over-rated” as an issue.
John Goodman runs Kiwi Packaging’s IT department of around 50 PCs. He isn’t convinced that TCO assessments are
“The survey figures I’ve seen are five times the cost of a PC. I can’t possibly get it to add up to anything like that.” Goodman can understand doubling the cost, but even then he feels the cost of PCs has come far enough to make them affordable. As for NetPCs or NCs, Goodman sees a pattern emerging.
“Companies tend to centralise and decentralise on a 10-year cycle. It must be about time to centralise again.” He believes the cost of purchasing a server and a series of terminals could be just as much as the cost of buying PCs instead.
“Then it all comes down to running costs, and for a network the size of ours, I can’t see the point.”
The respondents were more evenly divided on whether TCO changed the way managers organise computing operations. 16 believed it did while 14 said it did not. Comalco’s Nick Hunn was aware of the issue but didn’t go as far as the Gartner Group’s when assessing the cost of owning a PC.
As for the debate over NC versus NetPC, respondents are evenly divided but uncommitted. Many are waiting to see which way the market as a whole moves while the majority, like Goodman, are unconvinced that they need them at all.