How to Choose a Computer for your Business

You get the most out of your technology. You have been using your latest computer for about 4 years. And now you are noticing just how slow that computer has become. Needs change and you need something that keeps pace with your business. But what should you be looking for? Let’s sit down and do a consultation. This is the same advice that I would give my clients if asked this question.

Mobile or Desk Bound

The first question you need to be asking is a basic one. Does your business dictate a laptop or a desktop computer? If you make frequent presentations on the road, a laptop is a must. If you want something that is on the highest end of processor power, you should consider a desktop computer. Desktop computers always run higher on processing power than laptops. Laptops require miniaturization and, as such, take longer to develop. Hence, they are always behind the power curve. Will this computer be acting as a server? Will it “serve” up files to other computers on your network. If that’s the case, you won’t be wanting to take that out of the office. That would disconnect users from their data. And that’s a no-no.

The Price Point

Never ever go after a computer based on an initial price. Most brand name computer manufacturers have learned a marketing trick. They put a computer sticker price at the lowest possible price. But this price will not be the price you will pay. Unless you want the barest bones computer you can imagine. You will almost always end up paying hundreds more than the initially quoted price once you’re done. It’s just a sneaky way to get you “in the door.” But there are other reasons you should never go on price alone.

It’s All About Support

Probably the single most important factor for choosing a computer these days is support. What kind of support will you have once this company has made a sale? A while ago, computers differed tremendously in their configuration and components. But things have changed. Now, computers are incredibly modular. Most of the major manufacturers use very similar, or identical, components. There are many reasons for this change, but all you need to know is that the main issue isn’t components anymore. It really is about the post sale support. Research your manufacturer and get the “skinny” on their class of support. If you are going after a local cheapy beware. Sure, you may get an excellent deal, but will they be around if the computer breaks?

The Middle Road is Golden

People tend to make one of two mistakes when they buy a computer. They either tend to buy too little computer or too much. Don’t go after a super cheap computer. It’s almost always a bad idea, unless you happen across a great deal. In my experience, this rarely happens. Also, don’t get top of the line components in your computer. You will pay a premium for these items. And in six months, you will be kicking yourself as those components have depreciated tremendously. A good rule of thumb is to look at the low and high ends and pick something in between. You will get a great deal for your money and it will last you many years.

Essential Software

A lot of computer vendors are in the habit of stuffing software onto systems. They will give you everything you don’t need. This gives the illusion of value. But really that software will just bloat your system. You only need a few pieces of software really. Obviously, there is the operating system, or OS. This will most likely be Windows. Then you need an office suite. Again, this will most likely be a Windows based product like Office. As a sidenote, you may want to look at Openoffice( It’s free and is compatible with Microsoft Office. Just make sure you get the right version of Office. This is especially true of Powerpoint, Microsoft’s presentation software. Not all versions have Powerpoint included.


100G network processor available

EZchip Semiconductor has finally started making available a network processor that is capable of a whopping 100Gbps in throughput.

EZchip first began talking about the NP-4 processor back in May 2007. At the time, EZchip said it would start making samples available to switch makers in 2008. However, those samples are only being made available now.

The chip can be used to make Carrier Ethernet switch/router line cards or “pizza boxes” that pack in more ports. EZchip says the NP-4 would allow vendors to create line cards that have up to 400Gbps in throughput and up to 40 ports of 10 Gigabit Ethernet. Line cards with lots of Gigabit Ethernet ports or few 100G Ethernet ports would also be possible. At the lower end, there is a “light” version, the NP-4L, which has 50Gbps of throughput.

Network processors have the flexibility of being software-programmable, while getting speed benefits by being tailored to networking applications. The flexibility means it is easier for vendors to roll out upgrades or new functions as they are developed.

EZchip says the new processor could be used in modular chassis, such as metro switches, edge and core routers, wireless backhaul switch/routers, and enterprise backbone switches. In the standalone “pizza box” format, the chip could be used in Ethernet aggregation nodes, server load-balancing switches and other applications.

The NP-4 features integrated traffic management, allowing customers to manage the bandwidth at a granular level. It supports video streams and IPTV. And it can offload packet processing.

The processor will be on display at the Linley Tech Carrier Ethernet Design Seminar this week in San Jose.

Why buy used network

Whether you call it used, pre-owned or refurbished, buying IT hardware in the secondary IT market can provide significant benefits. If your organization hasn’t considered Second User equipment, then now is the best time to consider the value of what many say is ”equally reliable” equipment. Second User equipment has been a vital option for State and Federal governments as well as private and public organizations around the world. These organizations are stretching budget dollars by capitalizing on this non-traditional IT planning and in the acquisition process.

Second User equipment and new overstock is a result of terminated leasing contracts, OEM overstock, purchasing mistakes, company closures and discontinued programs, which supply the secondary market with a surfeit of current and end-of-life equipment. This surplus is comprised of primarily used equipment, although a significant portion is new, manufacturers’ surplus, open-boxed or unused (out–of-the-box) equipment. This fully functional hardware, including routers, switches, network modules, servers, server options, telephony and much more is available and priced at fifty to ninety per cent off list price. With savings in that range, IT budgets are extended significantly, while limited IT budgets can achieve superior technology through the acquisition of IT surplus that would not be possible through traditional channels.

A flourishing secondary market does raise the question “Is used as good as new?” To answer this, let’s agree that the average refresh cycle is three years for established brands such as Cisco, Foundry, HP, Juniper, IBM and tier one brands. This top of the line equipment has an extensive life span due to superior engineering, which is why it is priced higher than lower end equipment. Most high-end equipment is built to last and when it does fail it is usually due to human error as in mis-handling the hardware. The consensus is that it’s a safe to say that off-lease equipment is “as good as new.” (Consider that it is not uncommon for new equipment that is randomly tested to fail immediately or within a short time frame.)

It is also important to know that a surplus market is based on supply and demand, and it’s impossible to guarantee pricing and availability. Large orders can deplete the supply of a particular part (especially “hard to find” and “end of life”) and can also drive up prices. For instance, if there is an open order for a large order of a discontinued Cisco router or an IBM server, this order can deplete surplus inventory for several months and raise the price for a period. Unlike, traditional distribution of new, current– future availability on surplus is very rarely guaranteed as another purchase order can directly impact supply. Timing is everything and like any other commodity markets there are many variables involved. If you have interest on a large qty, especially “hard to find” hardware that is priced right and available, a prompt decision is imperative to avoid losing out to another buyer. The wait for the inventory to reappear on the market could adversely affect your IT planning. On the other hand, an over abundance of inventory is also good for the buyer as the pricing will be even more competitive.

Recognizing the value and capitalizing on some if not all aspects of the secondary market can only benefit your organization. Whether it’s buying a particular component, a portion or all of your IT equipment you’ll save money from buying at reduced pricing and eliminating maintenance contracts by having in house spares. Selling your surplus and decommissioned IT assets correctly will provide ROI dollars that can be used for additional IT equipment or spent on other areas of your organization.

Why use a network

Connecting computers in a local area network lets people increase their inefficiency by sharing files, resources, and more. Local area networking has attained much popularity in recent years–so much that it seems networking was just invented. In reality, local area networks (LANs) appeared more than ten years ago, when the arrival of the microcomputer gave multiple users access to the same computer.

These are three of the most common benefits of using a LAN.

* Increased efficiency

* Improved communications

* Lowered costs.

LANs increase the efficiency of workers by letting them exchange data and by eliminating redundant effort. The most common means of sharing information on a LAN is the corporate database. Corporations commonly have several departments performing very differeent tasks, but the departments are generally working with the same type of information. A mail-order company, for example, works with customer name and address data, product numbers and pricing data, and shipping and inventory information. It make the company far more efficient and organized to keep the data in one database, letting each user access the data that he or she needs.

LANs improve communications by offering a way of sending messages electronically. Many networks have full-fledged mail systems, called elctronic mail (E-mail), through which users can send each other everything from corporate memos to informal hellos.

LANs saved money by letting corporations license network versions of software to share among users. Likewise, there can be major savings in hardware purchasing because each network may need only one of each device. Rather than equipping each user with his or her own set of office equipment, a company can create a network consisting of a group of microcomputers with, for example, one laser printer, one tape backup unit, one CD-ROM drive, one fax machine, and one hard drive. By saving money in this way, it’s often possible to purchase higher-quality equipment for the group than would have been possible for each individual.

Kinds of Networks

LANs are divided into two types: client-server and peer-to-peer. a client-server network has one or more central computers, called file servers, to which are connected all the other workstations. A workstation is a personal computer connected to a file server. The file server controls all network activity, such as who can use the system and what data users have access to. The advantages of client-server networks include control, security, and speed. Drawbacks can include high cost, difficult installation, and overdependence on a single system (the server). When the server goes down, the whole network goes down.

A peer-to-peer network is a group of microcomputers in which no single system is in charge and all workstations operate as equals. Each workstation can share its files and applications with any other workstations connected to the network. The benefits of peer-to-peer networking include simplicity, lower cost, ease of installation, and ease of maintenance. The drawbacks can include insufficient security, inadequate control, and lack of speed.

With the two basic types of LANs defined, it’s important to understand that there are several varieties within each category, just as there’s a range of uses for each type. What type of LAN you need depends on your intended use for it.

NetWare: A Client-Server Approach

Novell NetWare is an example of a client-server network. What sets the client-server network apart from the peer-to-peer network is the function of the file server. It, too, is a personal computer, but it runs an operating system such as NetWare to control the network. The file server controls all the workstations on the network in terms of how they access network resources. A network administrator manages the file server by overseeing network security, troubleshooting problems, and more.

The workstations connected to a NetWare network can still function as separate computers with their own operating systems. In fact, even when your computer is connected to a network, what you see on the screen may look the same as when you’re not on a network. But when you access the file server, the work you send back and forth is subject to the rights and restrictions imposed by the network administrator. Often, the network administrator takes care of setting users up on the network, which entails physically connecting the workstation to the file server, as well as adding the user name and assigning a password. Users generally know just enough to get their jobs done on the network, but knowing a bit more of the way the network works can sometimes help guide you to some shortcuts and quick fixes that may simplify your networking tasks.

To begin, it’s important to understand how a workstation communicates with the file server. First, there’s the hardware connection, which consists of a networking card installed in the workstation with a cable that connects to the file server. The second piece of the puzzle is the software. The shell is the software needed for the workstation to communicate with the file server. The network administrator loads the shell onto each workstation. The shell directs your commands either to your own workstation or to the file server, depending on what kind of command it is.

To understand how the file server stores the information you send it, think of a file cabinet as an analogy. The file server is the cabinet. Within it are the drawers, or volumes (Within the drawers (volumes) are folders, or directories. Within those folders (directories) are pieces of paper, or files.