What TCO Studies Reveal
The following sections detail some of the problem areas in distributed environments.
Users need access to quality support on a timely basis. When end users encounter problems, they rarely seek IT help. They either try to solve the problem on their own or ask colleagues to assist, taking coworkers away from their primary job responsibilities. The IT organization typically fails for the following reasons:
It's unreachable or too distant (not necessarily physically) from users.
It doesn't publicize who to contact for what types of problems.
It doesn't know how to support the user's configuration (common in those systems where the users bought the systems on their own).
It doesn't know how to support remote servers and distributed networks.
It takes too long to solve user problems.
It has no time to deal with end-user problems.
Inventory Management and Control
Often, the IT organization can't track the configuration of most of the systems in use, especially in large organizations. When you factor in systems installed in remote locations or used by telecommuters, the situation can become even more chaotic. In order to plan for and deliver quality user support and asset management, IT organizations must at minimum know the number of units installed, who owns each system, and each system's hardware and software configuration.
Software Configuration and Update Management
IT organizations are called upon to install hardware or software upgrades to systems efficiently and in a timely mannerand PC software gets updated often. There must be a way to make updates remotely, without visiting every server and desktop. There must also be a mechanism for controlling configuration files on user workstations and regulating the installation or modification of software. These requirements were never a concern back in the mainframe-centric world, as all applications were stored and run from the central host.
Often, users themselves cause unnecessary downtime and lost productivity through their own activities:
Deleting critical system files by accident or experiment.
Changing parameters in the Windows system registry or control panel.
Installing new software that causes incompatibilities or virus infections.
Installing counterproductive software (such as games).