Jeb Molony

One of the most expensive aspects of an IT setup for any office is the workstations. These computers are the end user devices for the employees and the people who make a business productive. In a traditional IT model these devices have to communicate with central printers and scanners as well as a server. In a cloud IT model there is no server to connect these devices. So what is the difference in expense for workstations after the server is gone?

The first expense is the purchase and setup of the device. Most computers that act as workstations with an in-house server range in price from $1,500-$3,000 depending on the exact specifications. After the initial CAPEX the setup time is longer because connecting the computer to the server and configuring it is time consuming which means billable hours. After the initial setup comes the maintenance.

When a workstation is connected to a server there are issues that arise from a security standpoint such as updates and malware or virus protection. If a server is located in the office the end user workstations can cause problems if a virus or unintended update is installed and it conflicts with or harms the server. Because this threat to the server exists the automatic updates on the workstations are turned off. While this seems like a nonevent the truth is the inability for the computer to run updates means your IT company will have to run them manually which means billable hours. In addition to the updates the software that is located on the local machines cannot install patches directly from the manufacturer rather the patches must be installed manually which again means billable hours for the IT company.

The distribution chain for software has switched from retail stores with disks to direct download or software as a services (SaaS) distributed from the software manufacturer’s servers. This shift in the distribution channel is great for consumers and manufacturers because it cuts out the middlemen in the distribution pipeline. However, if your workstations are connected to a server the direct updates and distribution will be blocked for security purposes. Your business will be left fighting against the current with the manufacturers and the IT company will continue to bill hours.

In a cloud environment the workstation is simply a portal to the internet used to access the cloud. Because there is no server the cost of the workstation drops to between $500 and $1,200 and the setup is not specialized because the computer only has to access the cloud locations where your data is stored. The maintenance is drastically reduced because there are fewer pieces that can break and the updates can be set to automatic because the workstations cannot affect the cloud servers which translates into fewer billable hours by your IT company. All in all the reduction in expense for workstations in a cloud environment versus a traditional IT environment is one of the greatest values the cloud can offer.