Networking: A Beginner's Guide
These examples should convince you that you're better off running the wrong
desktop platform than running two desktop platforms. If you're in a company where
two desktop platforms are in use, you should work toward implementing a standard
platform. This process is difficult and time-consuming, but is important both for
increasing overall company productivity and keeping IT costs at a reasonable level.
If you move into PC management, you will probably be called on to perform cost analyses
to determine which platform to choose or to justify why you chose the one you did. These exercises
include costs of new hardware and software, dealing with legacy applications or systems to which
the platform must connect, and maintaining and supporting the platform, as well as predicting the
viability of the platform in one, two, five, and ten years. Remember that the chief technical officer
(CTO) or chief information officer (CIO) usually reports to the chief financial officer (CFO), since IT
has historically been considered a cost center rather than a profit center.
After deciding whether or not to standardize on a single platform, your next
decision is which one to choose. Most often, a company has a history with a particular
platform, so sticking with that platform is usually the easiest solution, unless a good
reason exists for a change.
If you're lucky enough to be setting up a company network for the first time, then
you get to help choose a platform. This choice should always be driven by what the
users need to accomplish, which applications they need to run, and the platform that
best supports those applications. You need to consider the full range of applications
that the company is likely to need, but the users' needs should be the primary driver.
For most companies, this means you'll strongly lean toward PCs as the standard.
However, for some companies, Macs are still a good idea. Generally, Macs make sense
in companies that have a strong artistic or graphic bent to their makeup, such as a web
design firm, a graphic design house, and so forth.
As you have probably already noticed, many people want to make a platform decision
based on the platform they like the best. Many people happily call themselves "PC fanatics" or "Mac
fanatics." For some of these people, the issue rises almost to the same level of importance to them
as a religion. Such fervent brand loyalty should never influence you in making a smart business
decision. However, the presence of such strong opinions also means that you must tread carefully
when discussing platform issues with the system's users!
If no need exists that strongly suggests a particular platform, then, for many
reasons, you should lean toward PCs. They are the most price competitive, are in the
widest use, attract the largest assortment of software and hardware developers, and
have much more infrastructure to support them. Also, for certain important business
application software categories, good solutions are available on the PC platform but
not on the Mac platform.