There’s a certain level of excitement that comes from looking at prospective upgrades. Nowadays, that excitement is less about speeds-and-feeds, and more about how the recommended path can either pump up revenues or cut expenses.
But underlying all of the great ideas is the system upon which these applications and upgrades will run. So it’s fair to ask your channel partner, “Will my existing systems be able to support your suggested upgrade path?”
More often than not, you won’t need to ask this specific question because the channel partner should proactively tell you. After all, any changes to the infrastructure will carry budget implications that need to be factored into the overall project. But whether the partner brings up this issue or not, don’t assume that all IT systems are created equal. A few things need to be considered:
How have your systems been running under their current load?
If your systems have already been running slowly, or have been hiccupping with some degree of regularity, adding one more function to the workload might not be the best idea. In certain circumstances, it might even bring the house down. Your channel partner will be able to run diagnostics to provide pretty strong clues around causes and effects. You would be well advised to insist those diagnostics happen, and take them seriously.
How old are your systems?
As applications become more complex and pervasive, old age can be a problem. The older systems were designed in an era when IT systems didn’t have to do quite so much. So some of them may be hard pressed to function at the upgraded level. Any systems that are more than three years old are probably suspect. But even newer used equipment is not necessarily equal to every task. If you have any doubts, ask your partner to show you the specifications that led him to believe that your current systems are up to the job.
How fast do your applications need to run?
This question tends to be more of an art than a science. “How slow is too slow” is largely dependent on how mission critical your applications are, how much delay your employees will tolerate, and whether or not you can afford to make investments to increase the speed. In most cases, the decision will be based less on an obvious tipping point, and more on a judgment call regarding the actual performance level.
If money is an issue, keep in mind that you can always opt to do the underling infrastructure improvement first, followed by the most targeted upgrade in a subsequent quarter. While this tactic might not save you money in the long haul, sometimes spreading the project over multiple budget cycles has the necessary effects. Also, many vendors and channel partners are actively selling finance packages.
IT upgrades always have a certain “connect-the-dots” component when it comes to everything working properly together. Keep your eye on the various elements, and don’t be bashful about asking how those different components will support one another.