Do Computers Really Need Servicing?

Simple mandible fracture by Coronation Dental Specialty Group. Licensed under CC BY 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

There’s something most of us use regularly that requires periodic servicing. If you said the A to B ambulatory machine – the motor car – that’s a perfectly satisfactory example but for something completely different, I’m going to say “teeth”!

Like our cars, teeth and gums require periodic inspections and servicing. By allowing dental professionals to conduct those preventative and minor restorative tasks, we are insuring against a major and time-consuming expense later down the line. The fillings now instead of root canals later. The new crown today instead of a barbaric teeth extraction in two years. You get the drill, if you’ll excuse the pun.

Do Computers Really Need Servicing?

Subtitle: Is Your IT Sustainable?

Our Information Technology – as in servers, software, and stuff – is a mandatory platform from which we participate in the modern economy. But some of us just use it with scant thought to any preventative or proactive maintenance. This could be because it has historically worked so well that we have simply not needed to draw it to our conscious thoughts. Servers have blinked LEDs and hummed away for years. Storage arrays have diligently kept data safe. Network and Internet connectivity has rarely had a glitch. If we’ve been that lucky, and sometimes you can actually be that lucky, it would seem a waste of money to monitor and maintain.

If you never saw a dentist you’re more than likely to be in for a shock when you did. Flossing might have really helped your gum line. Had you visited earlier those root canals on your furthermost molars wouldn’t be on the agenda. And, sorry, but the third tooth in quadrant two has got to go – you’ll get used to your funky new smile.

Just like teeth, then, sustainable IT requires an allocation of funds towards servicing activities, upkeep, and planning for the future.

You could argue that adult teeth are “fit for life” whereas computers aren’t. That’s true, to a degree, and so perhaps my analogy doesn’t wash. I know of some great mainframe systems, though, that are still running practically perfectly in every way. Just like Mary Poppins. I also know of software that has been in use longer than The Simpsons has been on TV. For this to even be possible, proactive maintenance has been the critical lynch-pin to ongoing success.

In the golden age of mainframe computing, during the 1950s and 60s, technicians in white lab coats diligently replaced vacuum tubes and, quite literally, removed moths and other insects nestled in their warming glow. The term “debugging” was coined. It was an era when large conglomerates had access to just one computer that was not properly understood even if it assisted in delivering a competitive advantage. Rapidly calculating drag coefficients for new car designs, the molecular makeup of chemical compounds, the orbits of spacecraft, the supposed relationship between stock market commodities. That sort of thing.

Somewhat perversely – perhaps because the capital investment and physical footprint was so enormous – the swinging 60s was a time when greater emphasis was placed on maintenance even though we now actually almost exclusively rely on computing power for absolutely everything we professionally do. An inaccessible web site could drive customers elsewhere. A knackered hard drive could bring an assembly line to a stand-still. A flipped out ticketing database may prevent planes from departing the gate. Losing access to patient records could mean medications and doses become a game of roulette. Or worse.

I’m in the industry. I’m biased. But it just makes good business sense to me that you would get your IT – even if it’s in the Cloud – on to some form of maintenance or support agreement. Especially for all that business critical stuff, some of which you might not actually know is a weak link in your technology chain. Alternately, you could squirrel cash away in a pink piggy bank for the day your teeth do need major work. For my money, though, that six monthly visit to the hygienist doesn’t sound so bad after all.

What do you think? Is your business on an IT support contract? Do you see it as valuable? What would it need to do to be more valuable?

I’d love to hear from you, so let’s get the conversation going.

Contact Us or phone 1300 LOFTUS (1300 563 887) to start discussing cost-effective management of your IT.

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