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Desktop TCO and user rights

You may not have noticed, but Microsoft is in the middle of a major PR push to sell desktop TCO again - as usual, all sizzle, of course, but it does raise the question: as Microsoft brings back the glass room, who's standing up for users?

From Microsoft's sales pitch:

Windows Desktop Management and Deployment

Windows Vista Enterprise along with the Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack is a more manageable client operating system, which provides the ability to reduce deployment and costs and increase operational efficiency to IT Professionals responsible for managing the desktop. In addition, Microsoft Deployment provides detailed guidance and job aids for every organizational role involved with large-scale deployment projects.

Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack for Software Assurance

The Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack (MDOP) for Software Assurance is a suite of six products sold as an add-on subscription license available to Software Assurance customers. MDOP uses innovative technologies to help reduce the total cost of ownership (TCO) of the Windows desktop by accelerating operating system and application management and enhancing IT responsiveness and user uptime. MDOP will enable you to better control the desktop, accelerate and simplify desktop deployments and management, and create a dynamic infrastructure by turning software into centrally managed services.

Sounds good, right? -and consider too the headlines from the "Management Overview":

  • Deployment Overview and Tools

  • Take Control of the Desktop

  • Accelerate Application Installation, Management, and Responsiveness

  • Transform Software in Centrally Managed Services

  • Automate Desktop Deployment and Solve Migration Issues

The same page offers links to an IDC survey and a TCO analysis by WiPro - both from March of 2007 and dedicated to selling MDOP licenses.

The WiPro TCO analysis lists the seven "best practices" discovered by the IDC survey - and implemented using the MDOP toolset:

  • Standard Desktop Strategy
  • Comprehensive Directory Solution
  • Single System Management Tool
  • Automated Packaging Tools and Software Distribution
  • Centrally Managed PC Settings and Configurations
  • Automated User Provisioning
  • Comprehensive PC Security

For each one of these there's a write-up followed by something like this:

To implement this best practice and carry out these common requirements, Wipro estimates that organizations will spend between $100 to $500 per PC using a non-MDOP solution. For the hypothetical organization modeled, the cost is $300 per PC. IDC found the IT labor savings benefit of this best practice is $110 per PC year.

Leading to this in the Executive Summary:

Collectively, these best practices are capable of reducing IT Labor by up to $830 per PC per year for organizations with a zero adoption rate of these best practices. Few, if any organizations will have none or all of the best practices. Therefore Wipro believes the savings will likely range from $200 to $500 per PC per year for the average organization. Implementing best practices requires an investment, which will vary greatly from organization to organization because of different IT infrastructures.

Depending on the best practice and the starting point, the cost for implementing a best practice can range from $50 to $500 per PC. These costs include a number of factors such as hardware, software, and IT labor. Wipro estimates that MDOP can reduce the cost of implementing a best practice by $10 to $150 per PC.

The most striking thing about all of this is that the user is never considered - and neither are user management, usage patterns, user applications, or anything else outside of the data center. In fact, the closest they get to anything relating to why all this stuff exists in the workplace is this bit from a table citing various sources of TCO

Downtime Lost user productivity caused by an IT system failure. Because users can often remain productive without their PC, this metric is discounted by 80% $95 (annual cost) 5% (Percentage of annual TCO)

All of which leads me to one of my favorite questions: who does IT work for?

Read the Microsoft blurb carefully and I think you'll agree that what they're telling you is that if (and only if) you have an all Microsoft desktop architecture with licensed servers running licensed applications on licensed clients, and if (and only if) you also have a Microsoft assurance contract covering all of it, and if (and only if) you then add MDOP licensing, you can reduce your labor cost for desktop support by licensing their software to further restrict what users can do with desktop PCs.

Know what? If you hang 2,500 Sun Rays off a couple of UltraSPARC servers, you get a much bigger reduction in IT labor costs, a 75% or greater reduction in desktop power and air conditioning costs, significant reliability improvements, and access to a much wider range of user software - all while meeting Microsoft's seven "best practices" and giving users

  • four second boot times;
  • huge, on demand processing resources including virtually instant access to large email in-boxes;
  • near total freedom from "security" issues;
  • the freedom to access their home computing environment from anywhere;
  • the ability to use multiple, concurrent applications; and,
  • the ability to set up their home computing environments in a nearly infinite number of ways.

So if you work for IT, you can see why Sun is the enemy - but if you work for users maybe the real bottom line on Microsoft's MDOP is that it's time to take a long, careful, look at alternatives to the PC.