Musings of a CIO

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

On Vendor Choices...

I'm a very cost conscious consumer in my personal life, and that applies to my choice of equipment here at corporate as well. I'm the guy who'll probably purchase the extended warranty on the electronics and appliances in my home (at least the more expensive or prone to breaking ones). I was not always this way. Sure, I've read the waste of money they can be. However, when my Sony 65" HDTV had to be replaced twice in the first 30 days and then needed new bulbs after about six months, I was suddenly a firm believer in the support contracts.

This trickles over to the equipment I spec for enterprise use. We order our Dell desktops and laptops with Gold Technical Support (in our opinion, easier to understand and work with than the standard support), and the laptops also get CompleteCare. We tend to use a 3 year warranty on the laptops and 4 years on the desktop - always on site. We've also just started using a few of the GX620 Small Form Factor (SFF) systems for our engineers, and are including same day 4 hour support there.

We've done away with CRT monitors and full size desktops or mini-towers, in favor of flat panels and Small Form Factor (SFF) systems. Yes, a bit more expensive, but I know the technicians carting this equipment around agree with this decision, as do the users with a heck of a lot more desk space now that the bulky stuff is gone. If you still find yourself searching for a reason to move to flat panel, check out this PDF from Cornell.

With Dell, we try for free shipping on just about everything, from servers to desktops to software and peripherals. I've told our CDW rep they would have more of our business if they could do the same thing on shipping (I love the CDW Extranet for ordering, tracking, contact with reps, and more). We're much more likely to get product next day - even with ground shipping - from CDW, and the tracking information always seems a bit more current at CDW.

For server support, I go with the same day 4 hour parts only. We originally used Silver support with a few software resolutions, only to come to realize if the problem ends up being another vendor's problem we still had to call (and generally pay) that vendor for support. I've heard their Gold support on servers takes you end to end through resolving an issue, but that's what I've got my technicians for. Usually they can google for an answer pretty quickly on software resolutions.

Most of the time, Dell is our vendor of choice. We spec out other vendors each quarter, and even do use CDW when we need something fast, or the corner computer store if we need something faster.

This post is long enough for now...


What We Use... The Hardware...

Our IT Department handles a wide range of software, and a bit less in the way of hardware. I'll start off with the hardware for the sake of brevity. Let me give you a pretty complete laundry list with some URLs, and in the coming posts I'll speak to some of the details, and get up the software list. I'm sure I'll miss some items, but I'll fill in as I can.

In the Data Center and Network Closets

Dell 2850 Servers
Dell 1850 Servers
Dell 1750 Servers
Dell 71PXP 8 Port KVM
Dell PowerVault 122T LTO2 Tape Drive Autoloader
Dell PowerVault 132T LTO3 Tape Drive Autoloader
Dell PowerConnect 3448P PoE 10/100 Managed Switch
Dell PowerConnect 5324 10/100/1000 Managed Switch
Dell APC 1500VA RackMount UPS
Cisco 3640 Router
Cisco 1700 Series Router
Cisco 1600 Series Router
Linksys BEFVP41 VPN Router

On their Desk

Dell GX270 Small Form Factor
Dell GX280 Small Form Factor
Dell GX520 Small Form Factor
Dell E176FP 17" Flat Panel Monitor
Dell E1907FP 19" UltraSharp Flat Panel Monitor

In their Lap

Dell Latitude D820 Laptop
Dell Latitude D810 Laptop
Dell Latitude D800 Laptop
Dell Latitude D505 Laptop
Dell DView Notebook Stand
Dell DPort Advanced Port Replicator
Microsoft Wireless Comfort Keyboard 1.0a
Microsoft Wireless Optical Mouse 2.0


Dell M5200N B&W Laser Printer
Dell 5100cn Color Laser Printer
Dell 1710n B&W Laser Printer
Dell 1700n B&W Laser Printer
Minolta BizHub Di5510 B&W Copier
Minolta BizHub Di3510 B&W Copier
Panasonic DP-C322 Color Copier

Other Stuff

Ergotron LCD Mount


An Introduction

Hello, I'm the CIO of a real estate services corporation. I find myself all over the organization, from board meetings to strategic planning sessions and from data centers to behind a rack in a network closet. I plan to use this site as a spot to discuss the hardware and software we use in real estate, and hopefully get a feel for what others are using or how they are tackling some of the same issues. My next post will probably start with an overview of the stuff in use, and I'll go from there to dive into some of the pro's, con's, and difficulties we've come across.