Business Tech Playbook

#10 – How To Pick Hardware

10 months ago
Transcript
Robbz

This is the business tech. Playbook your source for it. Help for your business. BJ, I'm ready to talk hardware.

BJ

Oh, baby, you know it. We love talking about hardware. We're it, guys. We just love selling things. I mean, we love equipment.

Robbz

I want to be that guy.

BJ

Something server room that leads over river.

Robbz

And just looks at it like I just changed its oil. I want to be that guy someday.

BJ

What are you talking about? I think you are that guy. Right.

Robbz

Fun fact for the listeners, you can actually submerge your entire computer in mineral oil if you want to be that.

BJ

You sure can. I'm not going to suggest you do that, but you can.

Robbz

I have made an aquarium computer where you put all the computer components inside an aquarium and fill it with mineral oil and then put fake fish know, plastic plants. It's a lot of right. All right, don't recommend it for business, but I'm your host, Rob Zolson.

BJ

And I'm your host BJ Pote of Etop Technology. And we're here to talk to you on our Business Tech Playbook podcast.

Robbz

Quick recap of the topics we're going to cover. This podcast again, is intended for you, the listener, hopefully some sort of business owner, c level executive manager, someone that has to make business decisions with it that might not be fully trained in It. And we're here to demystify and make it a little easier on you. So going through this topic of what hardware to select, we're going to go through a few different categories on how we select hardware. Number one, what are the needs that's probably, bar none, the best. One, compatibility with what you're using in the field for software performance and specs. We'll get a little nerdy with you. Talk about how fast our computers are.

BJ

Just a little bit. Oh, be careful talking about how fast computers get because then we can start deep diving really fast.

Robbz

We're going to show our PC Master race skills. We're going to talk about longevity and durability, cost versus value, how secure these systems are, support and warranty, scalability, ease of use, integrating with existing systems so they can play nice with others, and even the hippies energy efficiency scores we might cut.

BJ

Careful. At the end of the day, if we can save a little know, you have more money to buy things that you and depending on who you're talking to, that could be guns or a Tesla or in some cases, that could be one person that gets both of those.

Robbz

It's so hard for me to integrate with this California lifestyle. I'll get there, don't you worry. Arnold Schwarzenegger will be with me.

BJ

It's okay. I mean, we're kind of on the edge of the metro, so we're pretty country out in our part of Southern California.

Robbz

Quick tangent before we deep dive into tangents, all right, who in their prime would have beat like, Jesse Ventura or Arnold Schwarzenegger? Come on who would have won? Just curious.

BJ

Good gracious.

Robbz

You know, Minnesota versus California.

BJ

In that case, definitely Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Robbz

Well, I'm so sorry. You're wrong. Moving on. All right, so talking about hardware, we define hardware choices for our customers, give recommendations, and we supply computers. If you're listening to this and you're the decision maker, the first step is stop going to Walmart. Quit buying retail computers from a place that was intended for Grandma to find a Solitaire machine. That's exactly what you're purchasing. So when you look for a business computer and you have an expectation of, well, I just bought one for my kid for, like, 300 bones, it's not going to be the same hardware at all. It's not going to do the job they were intended to be. Maybe a Black Friday special that'll only last a year. It's just not the hardware you want to be in. So stop purchasing retail. Find some sort of dealer, whether it be Lenovo, HP, Dell. Find a business grade hardware. They have a specific business line. And you think it's just a name. It isn't. Generally, those come with warranties. They're specked to be left on 24 hours a day, seven days a week. They are graded with all of that in mind for your business and business purposes. So stop that immediately if you're doing It.

BJ

Places we don't recommend going to best Buy, walmart Microcenter might be okay, but again, they're carrying gaming grade equipment, which is fine if you're a gamer or if you're doing a very specific business case. But for most people, you're really going to want to sit in, like Dell OptiPlex or Dell Latitude. Those are going to be their normal business pieces of equipment. If you're an engineer, you're going to go with Dell Precision. I'll be honest. I'm the most comfortable with Dell because that's what we primarily well, that's not primarily that's what we resell exclusively. It's exclusively what we sell.

Robbz

We have serviced other machines. BJ and I both have longer It careers, and we've seen and had our hands on pretty much every name brand of business hardware, and they all have issues. There's not a magic solution. We're not going to sit here and tell you again, we're not sponsored. We're not going to sit here and tell you that Dell is the number one solution. But we are going to tell you that Dell has a good track record. We have a lot of hardware with minimal issues. And most important, the number one thing for a business requirement is that warranty. The warranty that you can get 100% should be no less than three years, and that is parts and labor. That's how general warranties for business work. What you want from a business is that they will back that up, or they can work with your It team or manage It services team to get that machine service when it goes down.

BJ

And I was going to say the big part of why we go with Dell is they have one of the best service networks for fixing equipment in the country. I don't even know who else I would use. Like Lenovo and HP both have service networks, but it's not nearly as robust or built out as Dell. Is dell perfect? No, far from it. They do have problems, but at the end of the day, it's a consistent known quantity that works right the vast majority of the time.

Robbz

I just dealt with a ticket today. Someone called in. They had a Dell piece of hardware that was serviced for a five year business warranty. That's what came with it. They were in the last year of the warranty, and their speakers burnt out. They couldn't hear anything for business meeting calls. They had to put special headphones on that they didn't want to use, and Dell immediately approved the repair. They sent the part next day, and the tech was there the following next day as well. When the part arrived to repair it on site, which was not at a business location, it was at someone that was working from home. That is a response time to eliminate downtime as much as possible that you can't really get for most other companies.

BJ

Well, and that's 100% why we recommend going down that road, because a lot of our clients are most of our clients are only about 30 to 40 miles from our office. So we do have the ability to take people on site. But it's going to give a far better outcome for us to have Dell go on site with a part. That's all they do, is the hardware. We interface with the client to make sure that it comes back online and everything works, but we're able to maximize our time and their time. Not having to go hunt ebay for parts, not having to we just don't deal with it. It's not a big issue for us, and we don't have to send one of our engineers into somebody's home. We cuts down on drive time. It's really designed to keep our clients up and running. And that's a big part of why for Dell, they have basic hardware warranty, which can include a person. They have Pro Support, which gets you immediately to a US based representative. So you get handled a lot quicker, typically. And then for us, we do Pro Support Plus on laptops, and the Pro Support Plus includes accidental damage where you can break a screen once a year and they'll replace it, or you could. I think the only thing they didn't cover was somebody drove over it with their car.

Robbz

I've even seen where they yeet a laptop down the stairs and they'll still cover it. Now, I'm not saying that they will, and I'm not telling you to eat that laptop down the stairs.

BJ

Yeah, please don't. Yeah, no eating allowed.

Robbz

That is not recommended. But regardless of the name of the plan for warranty. Do your homework, because again, those names change. They've changed for Dell over the years as well. So do the homework and see does it have warranty? Is not good enough? What does the warranty do is the question. And that's why we say eliminate all retailers out of your vocabulary. If you go to Walmart, you might be lucky enough to find a computer that has a three year warranty, but I guarantee you that warranty is trash. I had to sit with one customer and they waited three and a half months just to get the part, and then they had to go drive it three and a half hours to service center to go get fixed to sit there for another five days. It's not a warranty that is acceptable for business. If your user is down for any amount of time, that's dollars out your pocket. So we want you figure encourage uptime as much as possible. So if next business day the tech's out there, that's a great response time.

BJ

Well, exactly. And you figure in California, I think the cheapest person you can hire is 1550 $16 an hour nowadays. And so if you have a person down for a day because a computer is out or it takes them a couple of weeks. So this is part of why we recommend having a spare or two on site. And it's also part of why we recommend having a really substantial warranty on everything, because then it's, oh shoot, we don't have to go order a new laptop and have it shipped in. They're going to ship apart and they're going to come fix it. And again, it's not perfect, and sometimes it takes two or three or four days, most of the time it takes one or two and it gets fixed. And again, that's a big part of why I think having two or three spares on site makes a lot of sense. And that way if it's an emergency, we can just switch people over to a new computer.

Robbz

Now that's what works for us. We're focused as an MSP of making sure the downtime is at an absolute minimum. That's critical for us. And again, I live in Minnesota, I'm not by California. So we need someone to be on site to service. There are other options. Generally the best in class warranty that you'll see standard that might come with the hardware is five years. You can also purchase with a package that'll last that up to seven years. Dell does this, HP also does this. AHP only does it on certain hardware. Dell does it on most all hardware. That seven year warranty is crazy. Have you purchased a computer and thought to yourself, where are you going to be in seven years? Will this computer even keep up with it? So asking more than seven years is out of this world crazy.

BJ

The only place I would ever recommend doing a seven year and even then I wouldn't recommend it is maybe a server, because that use case for the server might not change as much for end users. If it's a really big purchase and we're doing a lot of hardware movement at once, we might put them into a hardware as a service or a lease program with one of our finance partners. But then we match up the terms of the lease with the amount of years on the hardware. So if it's a three year lease, we'll do a three year pro support warranty. Pretty much anything that's bought one off from us, we're going to do a three year pro support or pro support plus warranty because honestly, it should probably be replaced every three years, every five years tops. Too much is changing and the requirements are getting stronger. I mean, a computer five years ago is nothing compared to what that computer is now.

Robbz

So let's talk about the life cycle and the refresh cycle as we call in the industry. You said five years. Some people can do seven. If you do over seven, you're doing an injustice to your employees, period. I don't care if you got them a supercomputer and you spent seven grand on the machine. That's a dated machine that you have worked for seven whole years out of its life. It may be working, they may be able to turn it on, they may be able to load QuickBooks and do their job. But I guarantee you the efficiency that you're paying that person per hour to sit there and do their job slowly isn't worth keeping that machine in service.

BJ

Yes, very much. I agree with what you're saying. Sorry I interrupted.

Robbz

No worries. If you don't have a refresh policy where you intentionally go out and make sure that people have current softwares, start it and accounting agencies encourage it because what they can do is that if they have an established refresh cycle, they can depreciate the purchase of the hardware over the allotment of time. So let's print sentence five years, you spent $500 in the computer. Super low cost, by the way.

BJ

This is yeah, it's more like two grand per computer is what we would figure.

Robbz

Okay, so two grand per computer over five years, you allot that in your booking, and at the end of the five years, that is zeroed out. And that's how they balance the books. They love that practice. They love a planned obsolescence.

BJ

Well, and it allows you to plan your cash flow more effectively if you start breaking your equipment into a five year replacement cycle. And ideally, the goal is not to have every single computer hit every five years.

Robbz

Right.

BJ

We have one of our clients is a bigger law office, 60 something employees, and they're actually on one of our bigger refresh cycles because they did a really big swath of machines at the same time. But they're also doing a hardware as a service lease program. So they keep paying that payment year five, month one, and we walk in with all new equipment.

Robbz

It's already pre done, it's on the books. It's pre planned, it's there. They're already set up.

BJ

It's a wonderful already have the budget for it. So they already have the budget set aside every single month that they're paying for to get this equipment replaced. And if it's I was working with an engineering firm yesterday, and they've got way too many computers for how many employees they have. But it's okay. It was their effort to deal with COVID and work from home. I get it. We all do what we need to do in the moment to keep business running. But they're getting to a point where they need to start transitioning everyone over to laptops. And it would collapse them from around 65 endpoints to 35. It would be a lot less equipment to maintain. And now you're replacing, if you replace 35 computers over three years, that's what? Eleven a year. But if you're doing 65 over three years, now it's 20 a year. If you're doing it over five, I mean, you start playing with those numbers well, and an engineer is going to need maybe a $3,000 computer. So if you do eleven per year, that's 44,000 a year. But if you do 20 a year, I mean, you can do the math, and you've got to stay up on it, because then you just keep building up technical debt, not having this older and older and older equipment. And, you know, a lawyer or an engineering firm, they're not paying their guys $15 an hour. They're not paying their attorneys or their engineers 1520, $30 an hour. They're in the 50, 60, $8100 an hour range. To spend a $3,000 computer on an employee, you're paying $200,000 a year. That's a very small investment in keeping them operating at a peak efficiency.

Robbz

Right. So moving aside from warranty the hardware choice, what we do in managed services is we understand that when we purchase a computer for a hire, we realize that that hire could easily some people call it the get hit by the bus theorem. They got hit by a bus. Now we have to replace the employee. That's a negative. We go win the lottery theory. They could win the lottery tomorrow, that employee might be gone, and we have to repurpose the hardware. So the original idea that they hired that employee for maybe a secretary, something where they're just doing word docs, suddenly we'd like to use that computer for maybe an engineer, or we'd like to use that computer for an accounting firm or wherever else that hardware is going to be repurposed in the company. So we have a set standard not only to meet the employees needs that it's assigned for now, but also to handle longevity. Because if that's going to last the five years that you had it built for, we might seem like we're over specking the machine, but trust me when I say this, in five years, it might be struggling. At the end of the five years for all the updates, the changes, everything that's happened to the machine. It's like buying a four cylinder car and you're trying to now drag race with it after it's gone 150,000 miles. It might be a little worn. It might not be the computer you needed it to be. Instead, we have a set standard BJ, I cut you off. Forgive me.

BJ

You're good? Okay. We typically have what we would call like an office worker standard, and then there's going to be like a power user standard. So for us, the power user standard is going to be a lot less frequent, typically. So we're going to maybe do that a little bit more one by one. But when it comes to the average user, which is 95% of our client base, we're going to go with a current generation I Five processor, whatever that looks like. I apologize for using terminology, but that just happens to be what it's called.

Robbz

And this is to help you when you're trying to purchase. There's going to be two flavors. So this is where you in the podcast, where you grab a pen and paper and write this down. So you said. I five current gen. So either twelveTH or 13th gen is what's out right now recording this podcast or correct. The other flavor is an AMD processor, which is about that. You'll see, Ryzen Five will be the branding. 500 will be about that same spec. If you see lower numbers for that AMD, don't get it. If you see lower generation or I Three processor for intel, don't get that.

BJ

So just for clarity's sake, we're recording this in July of 2023. So if you're listening to this, in a year or two, I'm not sure what the next version of intel or AMD is going to be, but currently Robbie is correct. The I Five 13th gen is the most current one right now. They typically release one per year. So in a couple of years, you're likely going to be dealing with a 14th or 15th gen. Intel is going through a big renaming because they like confusing their clients and their customers. But generally speaking, I Five is kind of like the best middle of the road performance for dollar, you can go I Seven or I Nine, which is a lot more power, but also a lot more dollars. You can go. I three. Generally. Don't recommend that's.

Robbz

Not going to last your five to seven years. For sure. You're going to have issues, and if you have to repurpose for someone else, it's not going to work for you. So as a staple, stick to the I Five. The Ryzen 5500 stay in that category. 16 gigs of Ram is what we do nowadays.

BJ

Amen to that.

Robbz

The problem is people say, oh, that's a lot of Ram to use. Well, I don't know if you've opened Google Chrome or Microsoft Edge lately, but it's like Pacman's gobbling all of it up. So if you want to work on more than one thing or do double monitors, just don't go anything lower than 16 gigs. And I will argue till I'm blue in the face that if you're going to pick a hard drive size 500 gigs or above, I will argue till I'm blue in the face, especially if you don't have a managed service company that's willing to go in and clean up the extra space and do the work to maintain that for you for longevity. For the five to seven years we talked about 500 gig, please. Solid state drive, not mechanical.

BJ

I don't think I've bought a mechanical drive except for a server. In five years, you did.

Robbz

I do have recordings of you talking about something something tape.

BJ

Well, I'm not saying we don't use tape for the right situation.

Robbz

I'm picking on you. I'm picking on you.

BJ

Oh, no. I'm pretty sure it's a hotkey on your stream. Whatever. Yeah, if you're getting a you're talking about 16 gigs of Ram. My laptop that I'm working on now is 32 gigs of memory and I'm sitting at 50% consumed.

Robbz

And you're doing a video call and have a worksheet open and maybe Google.

BJ

I might have 30 or 40 tabs open in Microsoft Edge, which is there you go. Hey. Right.

Robbz

No judgment.

BJ

Edge. Chromium I'm using two gigs of memory on just that. Teams is at 600 megs. I'm at 16 gigs of consumed memory and I'm hardly using it right. So to that point, I 516 gigs of memory. I would say for me personally, I generally go 256 gig solid state, but 256, 512. To me, it's kind of six and one half dozen of another. I know Robbie will argue until he's blue in the face or red in the eyeglasses that sorry, he's got red eyeglasses on right now. They're super cool.

Robbz

I'm just saying I can go through that. If you get to a 256 gig hard drive, you have it for five years and you're going to have someone that's not a computer expert and maybe they're saving in the incorrect spot. They're not putting it in the company drive. You're going to have to go clean it up sometime and it's lifetime if you don't want to get the 500.

BJ

Man there we go.

Robbz

Quick note for confusion, because I know we're going to have questions. Solid state versus mechanical. When computers for desktops really came to fruition for business. We have a disk that's just like a record player. It has a needle, it's going to read off the disk. It's a spinning piece of hardware. Anything that's mechanical like that will eventually burn out. And that's the number one thing to fail in a computer is the hard drive. If it is mechanical, these solid state drives completely get rid of the use of a spinning disk. There is nothing moving in the drive, and they're substantially faster. Faster boot times, faster load times. And I don't know of a business line computer right now that has a mechanical drive available for a normal desktop or laptop.

BJ

I think you can still get them.

Robbz

You can special request some of the.

BJ

But as recently as a year, they had a couple of model lines where the mechanical hard drive was still an option on their base based model. But we're getting to the point where you have to ask for it because it's just not going to be very good. No. So I'm going to use speed, like average speeds, just to give you an idea. Not so much because the end user will know what it means, but like, a really great, fast, high performing mechanical drive might do 200 megabytes per second of transfer and a couple of dozen, or maybe even a couple of hundred. They call it I Ops. So input outputs per second. And that's a screaming fast mechanical drive. The initial solid states that we're on, they called it SATA. It's one of their interfaces were between four and 500 megabytes per second, and we're in the ten to 15,000 I Ops or input outputs per second. While now we're on NVMe with generation five, those things are getting close to 8000 megabytes per second and two to 300,000 I Ops. Again, the speeds don't matter as much, but I'm giving you kind of a perspective of how much faster or how many scales of magnitudes faster a solid state is over a mechanical drive. And part of why we can't recommend it anything without one, it just doesn't make sense for the time and the money.

Robbz

So, yeah, as far as technical specifications, that's where it's put at. Some of the other details don't necessarily matter as far as peripherals, you can't get computers really anymore with disk drives, you have to use like, external USB for CD disk drives. It's kind of a thing of the past. The laptop screen size is completely your preference. You're going to pay for anything past the 15.6 inch size. As the de facto big laptop nowadays for the 17 inch is going to be quite expensive, even if on a laptop you have those nice business warranties that last five years. Generally speaking, that's everything but the battery. Batteries. Most of the time they'll have for a two year warranty, even though your computer is underneath the five year. But again, they're made to be swapped. They're not that expensive. Just put in. And even if you are without a battery, now you have a computer with a cord.

BJ

One way that you can potentially get around that is if you say that you have swelling in your battery. Sometimes they'll still replace it even after two years. Not that I've ever done that before.

Robbz

But pro tip, that didn't come from us. Wink, wink.

BJ

Never.

Robbz

We would never wink, wink.

BJ

So, honestly, I don't think I've seen a 17 inch business class laptop. There might be on HP or Lenovo, but I haven't specifically seen one in Dell. I see 15. Six is, as you said, kind of the biggest. They still got precision. It's somewhere between 13 and 15.

Robbz

They still got precision lines that do 17. And they are crazy expensive.

BJ

You're looking at starting at, like $4,500.

Robbz

Yes, that type of deal, it's nuts.

BJ

That's my cost. Starting at between four and $5,000, they're spendy all right. And honestly, at that point, just get yourself the big docking monitors and don't even worry about how big this screen is.

Robbz

So before we leave the technical specifications and go to the next category, I do have to note that this is the guide that we use as a default. That does not mean there's exceptions to the rule. When you have special software, like, let's say that you all work with one particular line of business software, contact them and have them send them their minimum requirements or recommended requirements for hardware, because they might have something that needs more than we have recommended, but don't go less well.

BJ

And so to that point, that's a good point to bring up. A lot of times, even if you look at AutoCAD or Autodesk, which is one of the heavier applications out there, their minimum requirements are like minimum to run. It not necessarily recommended for maximum performance. So that's where having some conversations around, okay, if we spend an extra $1,000 on this video card from Dell, but it makes the renders 20% faster every single day, okay, well, now you're making your money back really fast. So, again, if you're paying that person $100 an hour, and they can do ten or 15% more by spending an extra $1,000 on a video card, that's a very quick return on investment.

Robbz

Now, next thing in the lineup and just to bounce off of your little segue there is when you have this software also, especially if you're in the CAD graphic design, any of those environments that you have to have a graphics card for, you can't just go out and buy a gaming PC and expect it's going to work. Those graphics cards aren't licensed if you're using Adobe, if you're using AutoCAD, if you're using I mean, name the software. A lot of times, these companies require for their software to work in full effect, that there has to be a licensed card for business. They used to call them they used to have a name for these licensed cards like Nvidia and AMD are the two big graphics card companies out there. Nvidia used to have the Quattro line. If it had the name Quattro, it means it's licensed. Now they've changed their naming schemes, so they have licensed cards outside of the word Quattro. So check with your vendor. Check with who you're purchasing. Business equipment from and tell them the vendor says I have to have a licensed graphics card.

BJ

That is very I think AMD was adrenaline again.

Robbz

They've changed their name again.

BJ

Yeah, but you're absolutely right. You can still buy Nvidia quadros and all of the precision pieces of equipment. So desktop or laptop, realistically, buy as much as you can afford because I do believe it's going to give you a really big ROI.

Robbz

All right, so next up on the line of biz is security. So people think that, oh, I have to buy Windows. It's going to be as secure as you need. Well, the things that people don't think about is how to access the machine. Do you want something like a fingerprint scanner? Most of the Dell business laptops, they come on the power button with a fingerprint scanner, and that makes it very easy for access and much more secure. You can also have things like RFID key cards where you just tap your computer. You can make sure that they have full webcams to use Windows hello. Where they actually use your face, just like your phone does to look at your face to unlock your computer, check to see what they have for those to make it easier on your employees. Some environments like doctors offices and HIPAA offices, some areas have requirements where you have to have in medical facilities, depending on their policies, you have to have a fingerprint scanner. And it's nice to have it on the hardware instead of buying one. You got to plug in the side.

BJ

Well, absolutely great points. Having the fingerprint scanners in the webcams are really great. One of the other things we strongly recommend is having a TPM in all of your computers, and you pretty much can't buy a business class device without them at this point. Remind me what the TPM stands for. I'm drawing a blank and I'm using.

Robbz

I got you, bro.

BJ

Of course, it comes up with tire pressure monitoring, and that's definitely not it.

Robbz

Trusted platform module.

BJ

Thank you. It's a special until just now, actually.

Robbz

I was just watching you flop there again. TPM is a specialized chip on a laptop or desktop computer designed to secure hardware with cryptographic keys.

BJ

It basically allows Windows and like Office 365 and other outside sources to trust that your computer is who it says it is. So it's a really valuable chip inside of your computer to basically show identity. So example when somebody's motherboard gets replaced with Dell and that person logs in, even if they have the same hard drive or solid state put into that same motherboard, we have to go through and reset all of the different accounts because they all rely on that TPM trusted platform module chip to say that this computer is who it says it is.

Robbz

That way it's not faked and hacked by someone else.

BJ

Exactly.

Robbz

All right, so we definitely hit support and warranty pretty hard. Scalability I think comes down to where you're getting your equipment from. If you're getting it from a smaller business, and you have 50, 60, 70 computers a year, sometimes they can't keep up with the orders that you need. I know that's been a problem in the past with some of the smaller companies. They've had longer warranties, but then suddenly we had to mitch match hardware across the company, and it wasn't really what we wanted to do. Bigger players like Dell, HP, Lenovo, they don't necessarily have that problem.

BJ

Often 60 computers to them is a very small order.

Robbz

Yeah, to Adele and HP all day, that's a drop in the bucket.

BJ

People are like, hey, so can you get better pricing? Because you buy a lot from Dell? And I'm like, okay, so we buy 200 to 300 computers a year from Dell, right? And that's a pretty good amount. But at the end of the day, they have companies buying 300 in an order because they're replacing 10,000 computers a year. So 300 at the end of the day is hardly anything. The other piece to me, Scalability is partly what you have on your desk, and it's partly are you building out like a server room? Are you able to scale up with how you scope out your business's hardware needs? Are you going to the cloud? There's a lot of different things that kind of tie into Scalability, and that's where you start kind of getting beyond hardware as a strict conversation.

Robbz

That's more of the server conversation. Like you said, if you're going to purchase something and you want it to last five years, when you at a tip of the hat, get a big contract and your business overnight hits 50% larger, you're like, that's a good problem. I'll worry about it when I get there. Well, it's nice to have that conversation again, to be prepared when that actually happens. I bought this thing, I'm in two and a half years of my five year commitment. How can it be upgraded? Can I add more storage? What can I do to it to make sure it accommodates or what can I add to it? Make sure to have that conversation when you're planning this out.

BJ

Well, and the nice part is, for example, we have one office where three years ago, we specked out a server forum, and we're kind of in the conversation of it may not have been quite enough, but they also went from twelve or 15 users to about 25 users, and from about 1520 computers to about 45 computers. I actually think he said 59. So they have a ton of equipment running off the server that they didn't have three years ago. They started in two or three little offices, and now they have the entire building. Their scale of growth was a bit faster, and then it's like, well, but you said this would last. And it's like, well, yes, but you didn't say you were going to double the amount of people you had it's having the conversation around kind of, Where are things going? And our job is to kind of see as far into the future as we possibly can while not over specking things like crazy. And the nice part is we don't necessarily have to replace the server completely, right? He has two years, two, three years left on that device. It's a good machine, but we can add a second one. We can start supplementing. There's more than one way to skin the proverbial cat and help you get to that business outcome that you're shooting for.

Robbz

All right, so I'll do the last note here a little differently. We have integration with existing systems. Generally, when you replace a computer, it should just be a part of the environment. Unless you're switching from Windows to a Mac, then you'll have some integration issues, and that's more or less with your software. They should work well with each other. But even if you had to switch your security method to fingerprint scanners, and you have a computer that didn't come with a fingerprint scanner, we can add that hardware to prior existing computers. The more integration with existing systems that I want to point out is physical space conversations. If you're going to purchase a computer, especially a desktop computer, I see people do this all the time where they got a good deal, it's really good hardware. They get it in, and they didn't think to themselves, oh, man, that doesn't have the inputs to the monitors, that doesn't have the space on the desk. It needs to go to. It was supposed to maybe go to an upfront in the retail of the business. It needs to be hidden. Think logistically of what you need. If you need to go for, like, a nano computer where it's a smaller profile, say six inches across, versus the bigger tower computers that you wouldn't necessarily have space for, and hardware choices for compliance. Here's a story. I worked in a company. The HR director needed a new computer. She calls in and says, I want a Surface pro. Microsoft Surface. Okay, let's get it in. Let's see if we can do that. We were at a Dell shop. We bought everybody exclusive Dell. So if you divert from the company plan, that has to be approved by their manager. They're a director, so they had to get the CEO's signature. And of course, she already knew that. She came with it to divert with what it wanted to do. She got her Surface in, and we got it set up just to find out that it's not HIPAA compliant, which she needed as an HR director, because it did not have an accessible panel on the back. It wasn't meant to be opened and have the hard drive taken out. At the time, that was the requirement where you had to open the device with screws, take the hard drive out at any given moment to keep that compliant for her position. So we got the Surface in. Even with the CEO's directive, we had to scrap it and then go with Dell's version of the Surface, which actually even labeled on their brand is Serviceable.

BJ

No, those are all good points. It's finding out what makes sense for the business. Right. And to be honest, we're getting to the point where I care less about what you buy and more that we just have influence in it and we help you understand what the outcomes are. So whether that's Mac, whether that's Dell, if you're going to go PC, it really needs to be Dell if you're one of our clients, not because the others are bad. I know a number of other MSPs that love Lenovo and love HP, and that's great. They are good products. It's just not what we use. And so it's allowed us to standardize a lot of our automations, a lot of our updates, to know how to best work with it. And we know how to push their support, not push their support around, but we know how to interact with their support. We do enough of it that, hey, the battery is swollen.

Robbz

Wink, wink.

BJ

Yeah, wink, wink. We've already done the checks that they're going to require us to do. So we call in and say, yes, we've done these things. Here's what we've done. Here's the screenshot that you need ship out the part. And so we're going to typically shortcut that support process pretty dramatically because we already know what we're doing. That same thing will apply to your It people if they're not having to deal with a mishmash of low budget wonders. From Home Depot. From Home Depot.

Robbz

They once sold computers on Christmas. It was like a Christmas. They brought a pallet in.

BJ

Well, that's that's desperation on the willingness to sell anything at Home Depot. No, at the end of the day, listen to your It people come into the conversation with some business goals. And so hardware, we're talking about the endpoint or a server primarily in this conversation. And hardware ultimately does extend a lot further into your environment. It can be copiers printers, like the switching and access points. That's what connects all the computers to the network and to the Internet. Your firewalls. There's a lot of different pieces that fall into this conversation, and it's not just the computer, but at the end of the day, choose something, stick with it, know it.

Robbz

And win two pieces to add to that. If you have a managed service company out there and you're working well with them, try to listen to what they're standardizing on. Not to toot our own horn, but here at Etop, we kick ass. We do great. If you want uptime and you want the best out of us, it's going to be using the hardware that we're recommending because we live it. We breathe it every day and we're damn good with it. If you have an MSP out there and they're telling you, hey, we're a Lenovo shop, and they're really trying to get you off of the HP because they know how long it takes to get support done. Listen to them. It's only going to help you in the long run. It's not that it's just the magic. It's that's what those people are trained in, they breathe every day. They have the relationship and they know how to make it work on the spot.

BJ

And that's exactly it. Well, and so I'm going to do one quick thing. You were talking about sizing of the computer, and I apologize. At the end of the day, I still like things to look really nice and pretty and beautiful when they're done. This is some of the conversation and thought that goes into building a system for a customer, right? So we do a lot of Dell micros, and if we can get a new monitor in the Dell micro, what we will typically do is we'll quote out a micro stand. So you can literally just slot the PC up behind it, plug everything in. It's got little covers on it so it makes it look pretty. And so all of those cables are all tucked in behind everything. It's got a really nice stand. So that way you can very ergonomically, adjust the monitor and there's nothing on the desk other than like a Bluetooth keyboard and mouse. It is a really clean, slick, killer looking setup, in my opinion. And then what? Oh, you got to cut that part out of we have to remember we have a California audience here. Robbie, I'm sorry. You're known to be a little bit careful.

Robbz

You're known as the muted conservative group. I know.

BJ

Oh, yeah, right. Oh yeah, that's us. And the other part, what I love is if you're going with a laptop, we started doing a lot of Dell docking monitors, or Hub monitors. And those Hub monitors allow you to plug the network cables, all of your peripherals into the monitor. And then you literally plug one USB C cable that does power video, all your data, everything into your laptop. You flip the laptop open, you have your Bluetooth keyboard and mouse and it just works.

Robbz

You beat me to my punch, friend. That is the biggest thing that we can tell you all day long is stop just plugging stuff into a laptop, have a dock, or have the built in dock to the monitor. And if you're not using Dell because Dell hardware all works with each other, it even updates the firmware for the dock through the little Dell tool. It's so simple. If, you're know, good companies out there exist, like know, make sure you're using Anchor, maybe, that's a really good company to use for generic Hubs. Great way. That way you just have the station, everything's plugged in. You plug that one USBC cable. It even charges off of it and you go home.

BJ

So the Dell monitors will do 90 watts. So that covers the vast majority of the laptops we would sell. The docks we do are typically 130 watts. It's just how powerful that the laptop can be. So if you go something that's a little bit more powerful, we'll do the docking stations with again, I apologize for all the jargon, but it's called Thunderbolt. It's one of their transportation. It's branding, basically. It's USB four, I don't know, whatever you want to call it, but at the end of the day, hardware needs to be functional, but it also needs to look good, in my opinion, when it's on your desk. So think through both aspects of that and have happy employees spend a little bit of money on the things that are going to keep them productive and working the best for you.

Robbz

All right, so I said two things. You took one of them. The last one is, don't be afraid to let your employee customize it. Allow them to use customizable backgrounds. Allow them to put stickers outside the laptop. That doesn't destroy the machine. The more they can personalize their device, even though it's owned by the company and it is a company property, the better off you are. The averages out there show proof, evidence that if you let them customize even the most minimal ways, the percentages of intentional breakage or accidental hardware damage to that computer goes down substantially. We had an issue, a company that I was with that had quite a few employees, hundreds. We had, year after year, recorded damages to the computers. Then we roll out the policy where here you can customize it. You're allowed to put stickers, the whole thing. Just be respectful of your hardware. Dropped in just our company in one year by 27%.

BJ

Holy smokes. That's interesting. I hadn't actually heard that before.

Robbz

That's my localized measurement. There is studies that show in the United States, big companies, when they let them do that, it shows in the percentage of the teens, but still let them. It's going to be their machine for five years. Stickers are easy enough to clean off. They're not permanent. Wallpapers don't hurt anyone as long as they're not offensive.

BJ

So true. I mean, at the end of the day, it's one of those things where we figure that a laptop is pretty much a throwaway device at this point. Not that we try to throw it away, and not that we aren't going to try and keep it around if it's a functional device, but if somebody has a device for two or three years, you got your life out of it at that point. So it doesn't really hurt that much.

Robbz

TADA, got anything else? BJ no.

BJ

I say that to say, I have to go quote out some hardware for a customer now.

Robbz

Perfect. Get some RGB colors, some lights on there for them.

BJ

Make it look know it's going to be super blingy super blingy lots. We're going to do little diamond encrusted with make it pink, some definite, like blue and gold RGB rose.

Robbz

Gold rose. Gold rose.

BJ

Oh, very nice.

Robbz

Like your iPhone.

BJ

I guess we're going to have to go mac for this now. That's it.

Robbz

I'm cutting this off. Bye, y'all.

Episode Notes

For more episodes got to http://businesstechplaybook.com

Find more on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/william-pote-75a87233

This podcast is provided by the team at Etop Technology: https://etoptechnology.com/

Special thanks to Giga for the intro/outro sounds: https://soundcloud.com/gigamusicofficial