TECHSHOW is long over and I am embarrassed about how long it's taken me to hop back on and tap out another post. I wish I had more time during the conference to post as there were many great things going on. It was too much fun and there were so many great people involved. I'm really looking forward to next year. I'm honored to have been asked to return to the planning board for 2008 so I hope to see you there. I've posted my pictures from the show over on the right there, have a look.
I've been super, super busy since January as we've installed 2 small office networks and are getting ready to start a third this coming weekend. The offices range in size from 4 people to 10. Their network hardware requirements were about the same so I thought I would share some information and average costs involved just in case you've been thinking about taking the plunge. In consideration, assume the following:
- All three offices were running a peer-to-peer network. That means all the computers could see and share files with each other and even printers were shared but there was no centralized location for files and data.
- No new PC's or laptops were required, everyone already had a suitable machine
- New cabling was only needed in one office, for the other 2 it already existed; for the firm that did need it, the cost was about $2000 (yikes!)
- Labor costs varied from about 8 hours to 20 hours and you can figure about $125 an hour
- These are minimal requirements for a small office, you might find that your office needs a few more pieces and parts (but I will say in all honesty that this covers a lot and be careful that you don't get sold a bunch of crap your office doesn't need)
Here's what we did...we installed a centralized server (all were HP Proliants and the average cost which included 3 hard drives and memory was $2900) with Microsoft Small Business Server 2003 (average cost $612). The average cost for a 19" monitor was $200. The switch that connected all the PC's to the server averaged $330, a network attached storage device averaged $690 and a back-up power supply about $475. For security we installed a firewall that averaged $530 and virus protection for the server and 5 users was about $250. So the overall average cost for all the pieces and parts was about $6000 (don't forget to factor in labor). What do you think? I don't think that's too bad, considering what you get.
So just what did they get? Well, here's a little list of the most important things I think they got:
- Centralized, secure and backed-up location for all firm files and data
- Microsoft Exchange which allows the sharing of calendars, contacts and email inboxes
- The ability to log on to their computer at the office from any remote location with Microsoft's Remote Web Workplace
- Outlook Web Access to check their Outlook from any computer
- Real time synchronization for their smartphones with Exchange
- An internal SharePoint site (an intranet)
Those are just a few benefits to installing a "real" network. I should mention that our next step with all three offices is to identify a really good and easy way to manage off-site or online backup.
A few things to keep in mind: The costs I've given you above were 1) averages and 2) prices that I found from shopping around (A LOT). When you talk to vendors and consultants be sure to get more than one quote for hardware costs. I shopped around for my clients because I'm not in the business of selling hardware, many (maybe even most) consultants can and do sell hardware along with their services.
It's really not that easy to say with certainty that this is EXACTLY what it will cost you, it could be quite a bit more and even less all dependent on your existing infrastructure and your needs but I hope it gives you an idea.