While the rest of the tech world works itself into frenzy over the strange yet fabulous union of Oracle and Sun Microsystems, I've been contemplating a much more mundane but potentially far-reaching issue for IT manager sorts. That is: whether or not your organization should be considering refurbished systems as a procurement option when you need "new" equipment.
The specific development that got me off on this topic was the introduction of a new line of refurbished computers and accessories called Red Rabbitt from asset disposition company Redemtech and Technology Change Management. These are desktops and notebooks that have been collected by Redemtech, cleaned up and upgraded from a hardware standpoint, and then re-imaged with the Windows XP professional operating system as well as Microsoft Office Professional 2007 and ESET Smart Security. Redemtech was one of the earliest participants in the Microsoft Authorized Refurbisher program, and it has made good use of its options under this program.
The company is positioning the new Red Rabbitt line not just as a great option for companies (commercial or non-profit) that want to save a little money on systems that don't necessarily need all the latest bells and whistles (or the much-maligned Windows Vista OS). Specifically, it's looking for customers that need to run proprietary applications atop Windows XP or that want to keep a significant number of Windows XP systems up and running (stable-ly). BUT also as a great way for its customers to get a better run on the systems that they're turning into Redemtech. According to Redemtech, some of its clients could see a 40 percent in their commission. And, of course, the other underlying idea is that there will be fewer electronic parts entering into the e-waste stream.
Which brings me back to my question: Does your company always need to buy new systems?
There are absolutely green IT business cases for moving to new systems. They're faster, they're usually much better in term so power management, energy saved and so forth. But are you weighing those considerations against the cost of taking systems out of service and dumping them on the planet?
There are two opposing green forces at work when it comes to the lifecycle of desktops and notebooks in particular, ones that each company or individual needs to weigh carefully. If you can move systems into new roles (especially as the clients for virtualized applications), does it make sense from a business and green IT standpoint? I'll bet there are many times when it does, if your team is open-minded enough to consider this as an option. And there will definitely be times when it does not; when speed, performance and portability are of paramount consideration. The whole netbook category (am I allowed to write that) has also pretty much guaranteed that outright procurement cost probably won't even be the main consideration.
This blog brought to you courtesy of my four-year-old and counting (maybe five) Apple PowerBook G4.