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In today's client/server dominated IT environment, we must understand TCO to effectively evaluate deployment alternatives. All studies on TCO have shown that the TCO of interconnected servers and workstations is high compared to the centralized mainframe and dumb terminals of yesteryear, and the key reason is inattention to post-deployment requirements, especially availability. Availability deals not only with the prevention of "real" system outages, but with user-perceived outages. These perceived outages are anything that prevents the user from working with the system productively, such as prolonged response times, lack of assistance, or lack of available workstations. We can slash TCO by designing systems and applications with availability in mind.

Upcoming articles will discuss our "assess, build, and operate" approach and the important role of service-level management.

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