Deciding to use the Internet as the main communication tool to link Yesterday Corp.’s satellite offices was the easy part. Sifting through the scores of available products to find the ones right for the company was another story altogether.
As Tom Sincharge, Yesterday’s president, researched the issue, he quickly realized there were many paths he could take. However, he worried about spending thousands of dollars on technology that would be far more advanced than what his company needed, or even worse, on products Yesterday would outgrow before it had realized a return on its investment.
That’s when Sincharge contacted Steven Roesing, CEO of @industry Inc., a Cleveland-based company that focuses on Internet business, and asked him to help take some of the mystery out of the decision-making process.
Sincharge had met Roesing at an Internet symposium a few months earlier, and their brief conversation about Yesterday’s previous moves led Sincharge to believe @industry Inc. could help. Roesing drafted a reliable, yet cost-effective plan to reach Sincharge’s goal.
One of the first issues was deciding what type of Internet connection to install at Yesterday’s satellite offices in Detroit, Miami, Phoenix and San Francisco.
A year ago, it would not have been as difficult, says Roesing, because traditional dial-up Internet accounts were the only cost-effective option. Instead of a traditional dial-up account, however, Roesing suggested Sincharge invest in a Digital Subscriber Line, or DSL.
A DSL costs around $40 a month, but allows information to be received by a company employee at a speed close to that of a pricey T-1 connection, which routinely costs around $1,200 a month.
“For the end user, the remote guys in the field who need the information,” says Roesing, “DSL may be the best option.”
For his 10 sales people, who were not based at one of the company’s satellite offices, Sincharge contacted Sprint PCS to see what kind of wireless Web options it offered. Claire List, the company’s field operations district director, suggested he take a look at the Sprint PCS Wireless Web Connection package as an option for connecting his mobile work force.
“With one little cable, you can cable your phone to your laptop anywhere you are and you can go into the Internet on a global basis,” says List. “Or, if you just need to get into your company’s intranet to download large volumes of e-mail, you can do that, too.”
Estimated Costs: Four DSL Internet connections, $160 per month; Spring PCS Wireless Web Connection, 10 Spring PCS Wireless Web phones, $1,000; 300 minutes of Web browsing for each mobile employee, $600 per month
When it came to the necessary hardware to link the satellite offices, Roesing suggested using a Dell Poweredge 2300 as a proxy server, the computer that connects other desktops in the office to Yesterday’s DSL Internet connection.
“With hardware prices today, you can build a pretty powerful server for $1,000,” says Roesing. “Dell’s mid-level unit is called a Dell Poweredge 2300 and it’s a very high performance box.”
Following Roesing’s praise of Dell products, Sincharge browsed the company’s products for the rest of his hardware needs. He looked at the Dell Optiplex GX110 desktop computers for his satellite offices and Dell Inspiron laptop computers for his 10 mobile sales people.
Estimated Costs: Four Dell Poweredge 2300s, $4,000; 10 Dell Inspiron laptop computers, $20,000; Dell Optiplex GX110 desktop computers, $1,700 each
Since Yesterday already had a corporate intranet, Sincharge didn’t need to worry about buying e-mail and data base applications to place on Yesterday’s server. However, he would have to shell out extra money if he expected his newly connected work force to be able to access the company’s intranet.
Roesing suggested he buy about 10 additional licenses for every 50 new employees he hired. Since not every employee is accessing the intranet at the same time, Roesing says the equation usually works out well for growing businesses. This juggling game is not uncommon among companies trying to find a way to cut down on the expense of employee connectivity.
“The major cost of Microsoft products comes in when you buy client access licenses,” he says. “In other words, if you have 50 people in your organization that all need to use the application on the server, then you need 50 client licenses.
“That’s another game IT managers have to play. It’s not a one-to-one ratio.”
Estimated Costs: 10 additional Microsoft NT Server software licenses, $1,500 How to reach: @industry Inc, (216) 496-5347; Sprint PCS, 1-877-901-8500
Jim Vickers ([email protected]) is an associate editor at SBN.