It’s not completely true, but I wanted to convey an image to start this post. The image is that computers and people form a symbiotic relationship. More accurately, computers don’t benefit from the relationship and also they aren’t even alive. However, without users, computers do not have relevance. If a computer calculates the results and a user never sees them, did it ever do any useful work?
Putting my amateur philosophy aside, the fact is that computers need caretakers and users to be valuable.
During my days as a reseller, my expectations of customers changed. Initially I expected dedicated administrators (caretakers) to be present whereever I installed the servers. It quickly became obvious that this was not the case. The majority of the businesses did not have dedicated people to the computers and in most cases they could not or would not do so.
The logic goes something like this. If I am a small company owner, I know I need computers to run the programs I want to run but I don’t have the money or people to have someone look after the computers all the time. Therefore, I will buy the computer systems and some engineer time, but I will only put someone part-time to manage the system. This could either be a local employee, or the engineer from the reseller.
The basic assumption about administrators goes out the window. All the sudden the roles are thrown up in the air. Who is going to do the work? When is it going to be done? How much is it going to cost? The resistance goes up based on potential ignorance of the systems installed.
So, the first message is that the concept of local administrator is wrong. Most likely there is no one there that can do it. This includes not only keeping the systems running and backed up but also supporting the various user issues. Even if you have a part-time administrator at the site, most likely they only know the most basic ways of setting up and solving problems. The people are often pulled away from other jobs and do not want to know too much about the computer systems. This kind of experience is most common in small companies but can also occur in mid-sized companies as well.
The real value comes from remote administration. Back in 1998 at a reseller, we used to manage customer sites over the Internet where it was impractical to drive for on site maintenance. Not only was it easier, it was also much faster. Tough problems could potentially be solved without leaving the reseller office.
My idea is that it would be wise to implement a means of managing customer sites without requiring the customer to hire more people on site. It would be based on good business and trust. Most of all it would be based on the experience to manage the client’s systems in an efficient way.
This releaves the pressure on the business and would also make for a most cost beneficial system based on a service model that fits well with the current SaaS progression.
I’m sure that other companies are doing this kind of work. I’m also sure that Citrix would be in a good position to understand and provide a really good package solution for the remote administration angle.