Making the choice of operating systems or platforms is demonstrated in this exploration into the functionality, support needs, and total cost of ownership.
- [Instructor] In the last segment, I discussed selecting hardware. In this segment, we're going to cover operating systems or platforms. It's important to note that these two decisions are interdependent. Platforms, or operating systems, are the software that sits between your hardware and your applications and you. This is what gives you a desktop and something to click on, and everything that follows. The operating platforms for most users are Windows, macOS, and Linux for computers or for laptops, as well as Android and iOS for mobile devices.
Each has its own strengths and weaknesses, and each is the best possible choice for someone. In the video about selecting hardware, I mentioned that too much diversity among devices becomes harder to manage. This is even more pronounced when we start introducing multiple platforms. A network built to use nothing but Windows servers and Windows workstations has a wide array of options and services that integrate very well. As soon as you try to introduce an iPhone, things change.
In one of my earlier courses, Identity and Access Solutions for Windows Server 2012 R2, I went through the process of registering an iPad into a Windows network. It was a long and complex process, and it provided a short and very specific list of benefits. I spoke with a colleague while I was preparing the course, and he asked why anyone would want to bring an iPad into a Windows network. That sounds like the kind of question a network administrator would ask.
As you select a platform for your user computers, keep three things in mind. First is the required functionality. What do you need the computer to be? Is it a design studio, a communications tool, a web appliance? What tasks does it need to do and which platform has a deserved reputation for that combination? You need to determine whether a computer will be a desk accessory or a highly mobile environment.
The network administrator will consider what interaction the computer needs as a consequence of what the computer will be. The second thing to consider when comparing platforms is the collective ability of the IT department to support it. This isn't as important as the company's computing needs, but it will help you plan staff, as well as training programs. Finally, you can use the first two metrics to determine the total cost of ownership. The initial price tag is not the final cost of the decision.
And this may not be as important as the needs of the users, and it can only be calculated once you know the abilities of your current support team. But this is the sum total of up-front price, the cost of implementation, and the cost of operation. In the late 1990's and early 2000's, many people were excited about open source Linux, especially the free distributions, because they were, well, free. Many soon came to realize that a lower shelf cost requires a different set of skills to deploy and maintain.
And that comes at a different cost as well. Servers have their own ecosystem, and the choices should be selected using the same three criteria, with special attention given to how they interact with your chosen workstations. The same goes for printers and network equipment, like routers and firewalls. At the end of the day, all operating environments need to work together in the background, so that your employees can use technology to support them in their daily tasks.
Any technology is only as good as it is useful.
- Including IT in strategy
- What does IT bring to strategy?
- Communicating the big picture
- Selecting and evaluating the effectiveness of training and development activities
- Choosing the right hardware, platforms, and applications
- Who owns the devices?
- Site planning
- External and internal connectivity