Author Dale Holmes delves into the nebulous world of outsourcing services in this installment of his Windows 2000 deployment guide.
Installment 25 of this series presented the concept of change control. Just as it's necessary to manage change in large computing environments, it's also imperative to manage configuration of each component in enterprise computing operations.
Consider an organization with 10 users, each of which uses a computer to perform day-to-day work. If each of those computers was purchased at the time the employee was hired, it's likely that you'll have a mix of hardware platforms, hard drive sizes, video cards, and even network cards. Even if all 10 computers run the same operating system, the drivers required to run the hardware on each machine will likely vary. In this scenario, introducing a new application to the computing environment becomes very difficult. The application must be tested and integrated not only with each of the applications in the current environment, but also with each of the varying hardware configurations. You can't be certain that the new application will run trouble-free throughout the organization until it has been tested on each of the 10 computers. This task could take an IS technician several hours or even days to complete.
Now consider the same task of integrating a new application into a corporate computing environment, only this time the organization has 1,000 computers that require the new application. If the number of different computer configurations deployed across the organization is very large, the task of deploying new applications reliably becomes Herculean. This also applies to the task of providing day-to-day operational support. The total cost of ownership (TCO) of an organization's computing environment can skyrocket without some form of effective configuration management.
In today's large enterprises, it's typical for the company to standardize hardware platforms by selecting a single computer vendor from which all of the company's computers are purchased. From that vendor, only a small number of different models are selected, usually a mid-level desktop platform for general deployment, a high-level desktop platform for developers and engineers, and one laptop model for mobile users.
For each of the standard platforms, the company must ensure that operating systems, applications, and any required patches or upgrades can be deployed quickly and inexpensively.