Dealing with mundane topics often has beneficial results, such as increases in efficiency and cost savings, because these subjects tend to get neglected. The lifecycle of computer equipment is one such area. Part of this is taking carefully getting rid of the machines. Not doing so can lead to legal exposure.
Mary Shacklett, the president of Transworld Data, addressed the topic last week at TechPro Research. After describing odd instances – sitting on airplane next to a contractor for a tech company using a 2010 laptop and a visiting an IT firm and seeing a typewriter in the office area – Shacklett described the “food chain” down which equipment flows.
“Super users” get the newest equipment, which usually is current for three to five years. Subsequently, those machines move to “specialty functions.” The typewriter, for instance, was not melted down or sent to a museum because it is used for certain types of labels, Shacklett was told.
HowardTech Advisors deals with the lifecycle of a computer. A particularly important issue is how to ease equipment into retirement.
There are legal risks associated with retiring PCs. They may be filled with valuable information. For this reason, it is important to have policies in place for the “transition,” as the site politely puts it. Companies must be able to prove that they handled the end of the machine’s life appropriately in case of subsequent litigation. Gartner says that includes documentation on the serial number of the machine, certification that proprietary and personal data was removed and that licenses have been processed appropriately.
More overt challenges of computer lifecycle management have come up recently in two municipalities. The Norwood, N.C. Board of Commissioners earlier this month approved a $100,000 budget amendment to the general fund. The reason for the amendment – a big one in the context of the community’s overall budget – was that the current system is becoming antiquated. The change will affect software as well:
If the town chose to update its hardware, it would have to update its software as the new technology would not support the old system. Similarly, if the town upgraded its software, its aging computers would not be able to run the new software.
Letting things get out of hand can be scary. The Milwaukee County Jail and House of Correction crashed earlier this month. Most of the system was restored within a couple of days. Until that point, bookings and releases were done manually.
Carefully managing the acquisition, use, repositioning, and retirement of computer equipment is an important task. Organizations that don’t pay attention likely are wasting money — and may be creasing legal risks.
Carl Weinschenk covers telecom for IT Business Edge. He writes about wireless technology, disaster recovery/business continuity, cellular services, the Internet of Things, machine-to-machine communications and other emerging technologies and platforms. He also covers net neutrality and related regulatory issues. Weinschenk has written about the phone companies, cable operators and related companies for decades and is senior editor of Broadband Technology Report. He can be reached at [email protected] and via twitter at @DailyMusicBrk.