Pine Cove Pulse

Upgrading the City of Sidney: Why Hardware as a Service (HaaS) made it possible.

Posted by Matt Hall

hardware as a service HaaS

An article published in the Sidney Herald last week discussed Pine Cove’s proposal to the city for a complete technology refresh. Among other items on the council agenda, Pine Cove consultant Matt Hall proposed an entire infrastructure and device upgrade, as well as year-round IT services to remedy the challenges the city was facing with their IT initiatives. All of this was proposed in a packaged annual fee allowing the city to budget and sustain this level of technology now and into the future. This type of solution is defined as Hardware as a Service (HaaS).

What makes Sidney a great client for HaaS?

The city of Sidney is one of many clients who suffer from outdated infrastructure and devices. Sidney had major issues due to aging technology, such as four major server crashes in a matter of three months, according to Clerk Jessica Redfield. These crashes caused billing delays, delays in operations, and loss of data.

And like most local government entities, budgeting is limited. It can be difficult to pay for all new technology up front, even if all aspects of the technology needs to be updated (read more on system upgrades here.) 

Why Consider HaaS?

We spoke with Matt Hall (Pine Cove) on the importance of Hardware as a Service. What makes HaaS the perfect solution for Sidney and other related clients?

  1. Allows clients to get more out of their technology for a lesser cost.
  2. Focuses technology towards an operational expense, rather than a capital expense

  3. Services complete infrastructure

  4. Keeps everything under warranty.

  5. Putting HaaS into the budget allows for refreshes and quality, consistent technology.

Why Consider Pine Cove to Aid In Your IT Initiatives?

  1. We are affordable.
    PCC recognizes that technology is expensive to replace, so we offer a variety of payment options and work with each individual budget.
  1. We want to partner.
    "We don’t just “go in and look at what they have and give a replacement cost,” we are there for the long run. (Matt Hall). We plan, implement, and support long-term initiatives that we take full responsibility for, for the lifespan of that equipment.
  2. We ask you what you want. 
    Pine Cove understands that, as technology changes, so do your plans for the future. Which is why we continually analyze your organization to make sure we are adhering to your organizational objectives. You can’t have the same technology plan for every upgrade if your business plan is not the same.

Want to learn what more about Hardware as a Service ? Read our pros and cons here. Learn about the importance of upgrading all IT infrastructure with our obsolescence blog.

Wish to talk to one of our IT consultants for further information? Contact us to see how we can help you.

 

Topics: HaaS

Technology Consultants View on Current IT Challenges in K-12

Posted by Brandan Bassett

Technology Consultants

During August and September, a lot more happens than just a change in the weather. For schools, the pre-fall months are among the most chaotic times of the year. New teachers, new students, and new technology are among the many factors requiring attention as districts prepare for the new year. The bad news is that this madness will probably not go away. The good news is that (1) you are not alone, and (2) there are things that your district and Pine Cove can do to help make the process run more smoothly.

Common problems we see schools facing:

  1. New devices as schools push toward one-to-one computing in k-12.
  2. New training for current technology and device use.
  3. New teachers that require training, limiting resources.
  4. Part-time employees have too little time to implement technology, doing a summer’s worth of work in the two weeks leading up to the new school year.
  5. Too little manpower. Technicians are stretched thin and overwhelmed.

What can districts do for better preparation?

We recognize that it can be hard to contract technicians for the full 12 months. In some cases schools only use them during the school year. However, there are ways to ensure that your technicians are not so overwhelmed in the last two weeks before school starts:

  • Plan additional resources in your budget.
    Make room in your budget for additional help or longer contract time with technicians. Did you know you don’t have to be a regular customer for Pine Cove Consulting to help with installation?
  • Plan for professional development.
    Students are unable to know their tools if the teachers aren’t provided with proper training. To avoid teachers learning technology last-minute, plan less busy times for professional development.  They might not like it – but training teachers during the summer makes for a lot less stressful beginning to the school year. Learn about Pine Cove’s technology training.
  • Get the little things done early.
    Because we all know August is a scramble, organize early. Get the simple things done so your techs can worry about the big things in the last two weeks.

Our Solutions:

We bring the manpower. Pine Cove utilizes a robust install team to facilitate projects in our school districts. The even better news? We can do this even for non-regular customers. Need help with new devices? Simply just need some more bodies who know what they’re doing? Contact us.

We provide the training. Pine Cove never leaves their clients high-and-dry after installing a bunch of new equipment. We understand that the hardest part of having brand new devices is learning how to use them. Training ensures that everything works right, teachers know how to implement the technology with education, and that they are taking full advantage of the devices.

We are as proactive as possible. Granted, we won’t know how efficient the technology is until the students and teachers are all in the school using it. But with a proactive installation approach, our IT network consultants prepare for the worst so that only minor bugs or issues need to be fixed.


Technology is meant to benefit you, not hinder you. You don’t have to know the ins and outs of technology – you already have people for that. With a top-of-the-line installation team, 24/7 on-call help, and services to train your staff on what you need to know, Pine Cove is a proven solution to show you the importance of technology in education.

Have more questions about our IT solutions or would like to talk to
one of our technology consultants? Contact us at.

Topics: HaaS

Obsolescence Management: How to Keep Your Technology From Becoming Obsolete

Posted by Rick Vancleeve

computer_disaster.jpg
photo by Anna Vignet on Flickr

We already know that technology changes faster than we can blink our eyes. It is impossible to stay ahead of the game when buying technology, because even if you buy the latest and greatest, they’re already coming out with a new and improved version. However, there are ways to keep all ends of your business or school’s technology running at its fastest, and that is to upgrade.

We know, you’re dreading the word “upgrade.” But if your business has a proper rotation strategy, you’ll actually be saving money by having technology that works quickly together – and gets replaced at the right times. A proper plan set in place that refreshes your technology every few years is essential to having your technology work properly. Plans such as Hardware as a Service enable this rotation smoothly.

Read more about hardware as a service benefits here.

So, why upgrade ALL parts of the system?

WiFi:

Why do you need to upgrade your WiFi? It works, right?

Two things cause obsolescence in WiFi:

1. Coverage

When your WiFi and switches are originally put in, they are designed to cover the building as it is. But over time, this coverage changes. Maybe you’ve added more employees or students. Maybe you added on or created some new rooms. Whatever the reason, coverage changes as the setup of your building changes.

The heat map below shows good to bad coverage (bad coverage being in red).

heatmap 

2. Density

With more employees or students comes more devices. The main factor in Density is the amount of WiFi that users are using. On average, there are now over 3 devices per user. Also, newer devices demand the newer WiFi to be used to their max efficiency. More employees and students are a factor, but changes in end point devices and number of devices per user drive this. The more devices you add, the denser your connection becomes. An overload of devices often causes drops in proper connectivity and bottlenecks.

 howmanydevices

 The bottom line: obsolescence drives replacement far more than just equipment breaking.

Switches:

Why would you upgrade your Switches? They work, right?

When you put in your switches years ago they ran fine and still do.  However, now there is a need for ports that do 2 and even up to 5 GB over copper. Why? Simply because WiFi is currently running at 1.7GB and moving to 5GB. The switches have to be upgraded in order to handle this WiFi enhancement.

Servers

Why upgrade your Servers? They work, right?

Microsoft and other Network Operating Systems are requiring more and more resources, so to be able to run 2012 R2 you need more horsepower. Do you need 2012 R2?  The answer is yes you do, as a lot of items not only have been enhanced, but also many of the newer programs will make it a requirement. When your servers aren’t upgraded, it keeps your employees or students from having access to all of these latest programs.

Use the graph I sent you on Microsoft upgrading Operating systems

Workstations, printers and all other devices:

Why do you need to upgrade your Workstations? They work, right?

The constant change in software programs require better specs to run these programs.  In addition, the older endpoints don’t have the latest WiFi cards required for maximum throughput to get to programs and the internet.  Not to mention running the old WiFi connectivity from old workstations cause slowness on the WiFi device, which in turn slows down even the newer end points that do have the latest cards. 

Essentially, your technology is only as fast as its weakest link.

 wireless.jpg

Why refresh on a shorter lifecycle? Think you can’t afford it?

Our Philosophy:

  • Shorter life cycles require less tech support, better end user experience, and Total Cost of Ownership is decreased (less spent on extended warranties, additional tech staff, and better productivity)
  • Shorter life cycles enhance chances that devices are of the same “vintage”, which gives you a chance for all items to function together, rather than “rigging” this or that old device to work with the new equipment
  • Shortening life cycles does not necessarily require more money – but be strategic in purchasing what you need.
  • Less is More: It’s better to have a smaller amount of solid technology that you can count on versus a lot more technology that you can’t count on.

Key point: Your required processes a drive software a software drives hardware.

Have more questions on lifecycles? Contact a Pine Cove consultant today.

Building Sustainable Networks in K-12 Schools

pinecove_wheel

 

Topics: Technology Plan, HaaS

Weighing the Pros & Cons of Hardware as a Service Financing (HaaS)

Posted by Tyler Wantulok

hardware as a service

As technology demands in our districts continues to grow and our technology budgets do not seem to be following suit, we need to find a way to stay up with changes and demands with technology and access in our schools, while staying within our tech budgets.  A growing trend to accomplish this goal is to finance or purse a Hardware as a Service (Haas) program.  Below we have broken down the pros and çons to HaaS so you can make an educated decision if it is the right path for your district.


Hardware as a Service Financing Benefits: 

(1) Financing keeps your equipment up-to-date. Computers and other equipment eventually become obsolete. With financing, you pass the financial burden to the equipment financing company. For example, let’s say you have a two-year lease on a copy machine. After that lease expires, you’re free to finance whatever equipment is newer, faster and cheaper.  In fact, 65% of respondents to a 2005 Equipment Leasing Association survey said the ability to have the latest equipment was leasing’s number-one perceived benefit.

(2) You’ll have predictable monthly expenses. With a lease, you have a pre-determined monthly line item, which can help you budget more effectively. 35% of respondents to the Equipment Leasing Association’s survey said this was leasing’s second-highest benefit.

(3) No Up-Front Capital Expense. No full cost payment up front and lower total cost of ownership over the life of the solution. When investing in 3-5 year technology expenditures, why would you accrue those costs in one year, or worse, one payment. 

(4) End of Term Flexibility. At the end of the term, leasing gives your clients the option of simply returning the equipment, purchasing it outright or extending the contract, making it easier to cascade, upgrade or dispose of their equipment.

(5) More flexible payment options. Different payment structures can be tailored to fit your specific needs. For example, periodic payments can be structured to increase, decrease or stay constant over time.  Delayed pay dates also help to fit into fiscal cycles within your district.

(6) Faster implementation. Due to eliminating upfront capital requirements, you have the ability to implement hardware initiatives when you need the equipment/solution, instead of when your funding becomes available. 

(7) Reduced risk.  Financing an entire hardware solution allows us mitigate risk of technology budget surprises.  

Hardware as a Service Financing Downsides:

(1) Long Term Agreements:  Although you have the ability to buy out of a term at any point, you are committed to the payment for the life of the term.

(2) Paying Interest: Although you are able to keep this money in house, longer, you are going to pay some type of interest which will make the Total Cost higher. 

(3) Committed to Financing Terms: With financing, you will always be at the mercy of your financing company and agreement. Schools must follow their guidelines and are susceptible to reposition upon request.

Buying: The Downsides

(1) The initial outlay for needed equipment may be too much.

(2) Eventually, you’re stuck with outdated equipment. That means you’re eventually stuck with outdated equipment that you must donate, sell or recycle.

(3) Buying capital equipment often involves a lengthy budget approval process. Choosing leasing can help shorten the process, accelerating the implementation of the solution.

Learn about HaaS: financing equipment instead of buying here.

Topics: Pine Cove, HaaS

HaaS: Financing Equipment Instead of Buying

Posted by Tyler Wantulok

Hardware as a service

Equipment Financing

Technology upgrades have become one of the biggest expenses for schools, and with technology changing so quickly, it can be especially hard to keep up with the latest hardware. New costs for equipment can come up every two to three years with schools trying to stay up-to-date.

That’s why districts have turned to a new strategy: financing equipment instead of buying it.

Hardware as a Service: About Financing

The cost of equipment is spread out over its usable life, and makes new technology reachable for schools with tighter budgets. It’s sort of like leasing a car - the schools pay a small amount at a time for the use of equipment and returns it at the end of the financing period. The academic lease runs between two and four years.

For most schools, the goal is to have one computer per child. But when you tack on other technology that goes with it, like projectors, networking, and software, the cost can reach a minimum of $1,000 per student, which can be impossible for some schools to budget for. With financing, schools can ride the wave of technology and look forward to a regular and predictable payment.

By spreading out the payments, financing can make it possible for schools to afford not only the technology, but other important project investments for the school- such as maintenance and after- school activities. When financing, neither the district nor the school actually owns the hardware, which makes it much easier and less costly by end of the system’s life. By financing instead of buying, the school is relieved of the financial burden of system disposal. It can cost between $50 and $75 per machine to safely dispose of a computer.

At the end of the lease, the school typically has the option of returning equipment to the supplier or buy it- most schools return the machines. However, there’s a third choice that’s becoming increasingly popular. Many schools choose to trade to the latest hardware.

By trading up at the end of the lease, the school never has systems older than two-to-four years. On an even better note, the school’s lease payments for the new, more capable equipment are often the same as they were for the old items.

Choose What you Lease Wisely

financing works best with items that are still worth something at the end of the lease. The residual value lowers the lease payments along the way, making equipment more affordable. 

Although financing can be a little more complicated than buying, all the manufacturers either offer leases directly or through a financing subsidiary. Third parties will often buy equipment and rent it to schools on a short-term basis.

Financing isn’t for Everybody.

Often, computer makers and financing companies are flexible enough to structure the payment schedule to accommodate to the budget of a school. Most school districts prefer the predictability of making monthly payments, but others schedule an annual payment for when finances such as property taxes are disbursed, private-school fees are paid, or when other inflows of cash are received at the end of the year.

Like most leases, companies charge interest to pay for the equipment and expenses. Interest is charged from 5 to 15 percent a year- and interest charges can add up quickly. Over a two or three-year lease, the school might end up paying an extra 25 to 50 percent. But for some schools, they believe that it’s a small price to pay for spreading out payments. And when things go wrong as they often do with computers, financing includes full support and repair services for the life of the lease.

Of course, at the end of the lease, anything missing or broken must be paid for, and all equipment must be returned. However, the financing program will insure the machines against theft and accidental damages that at the end of the lease.

Interested in financing instead of buying some of your equipment? Contact your consultants! We are here to make sure you are getting the most out of your hardware.

Want to learn the pros and cons of financing HaaS? Click here for more information.

Topics: Pine Cove, HaaS

SaaS Business Rationale Finds New Life with MSP HaaS Installations

Posted by Tyler Wantulok

Most school IT managers are familiar with SaaS (software as a service), which allows access to software applications throughout a network as needed. This is a popular cost-saving measure, especially for those with tight budgets. SaaS allows them to either test software options before committing or manage their budgets within known parameters. The software options are greater for schools, especially compared to licensing the software for each individual user. With its flexibility and financial benefits, SaaS has become a more popular purchasing practice.

Many of the same organizations that use SaaS are now considering HaaS, or Hardware as a Service (what is Hardware as a Service?). In a managed service provider (MSP) situation, the MSP or IT provider makes appropriate hardware available to a business through a lease or subscription arrangement. The MSP will then monitor a client’s technologies from a remote location.

HaaS solutions eliminate the need for a school to invest in hardware or to physically house the hardware itself. Because clients pay on a monthly basis, this arrangement allows technology to be updated more frequently.

It’s important to note that in some HaaS situations, the MSP installs some hardware at the client’s location because certain technology isn’t appropriate in the HaaS off-site model. In these cases, the MSP will generally incorporate the hardware costs into the fees to the client. However, if the MSP cannot take on the hardware expenses, it is quite normal for the customer to license the hardware directly from the vendor.

In our everything as a service, cloud-based world, HaaS seems to be an inevitable move for schools wanting instant access and big processing capabilities (learn more about Hardware as a Service here). This is good news for smaller schools with growth plans because HaaS installations provide both sustainability and scalability.

There is no denying the benefits remote services offer: access to software and hardware that would be cost-prohibitive in normal circumstances and the freedom from IT maintenance issues that can be costly and time consuming.

Learn the pros and cons of Hardware as a Service here.

As an IBM Business Partner, Pine Cove Consulting understands what HaaS can do for the success of your school. Contact us to learn more or for a free IT assessment.

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Topics: HaaS