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Palm Pilot TCO is $2.7k a year, says unhinged report

Gartner recommends sending the tab through the roof by letting IS loose. No, we don't make this up...

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Data released yesterday reveals that TCO has entered the Twilight Zone of research topics. And maybe Gartner Group along with it, as the research outfit has come up with the shock news that a $450 PDA "can cost an enterprise nearly $2700 per year." Shockingly, the humble Palm Pilot scores an appalling $2690 on this scale, while the "more complex user interface" of Windows CE devices means they cost $2790. Of the total tab, 40 per cent is "end user costs or downtime." But then if you've got to buy AA batteries via IS we suppose they cost a lot more, and take longer to come. You'll recall the firefights a couple of years back when Larry Ellison thumped the TCO tub so he could "prove" that Network Computers were a lot cheaper to keep than Windows ones, and how the Microsoft camp fought back with a whole NT5-based TCO (Total Cost of Ownership, for those who've been holidaying on Alpha Centauri) strategy proving the opposite. Increasingly vast sums of money per station flew back and forth, but the world kept turning and nothing much happened. But Gartner's latest must surely consign TCO survey data to the coffin it richly deserves. That cheap pocket diary, phonebook and notepad you bought to straighten your life out is costing your company $2700 a year? Oh really? Actually, it seems that it hasn't been costing most companies much so far, because they haven't noticed it. "The PDA phenomenon has largely caught IS organisations unprepared," said Ken Dulaney, vice president of Gartner Group's Research and Advisory programme. "There are no funds to support such devices, and integration with network resources is being reluctantly given, since these devices are 95 percent unsecured. To offer support, IS organisations must understand the true resource requirements demanded by these devices." Got that? The process is as follows. Employee buys dinky little computer, works away with it happily. As IS begins to notice quite a lot of people in the company have dinky little computers with corporate data on them, it has to start integrating them into the corporate systems. Cue vast investment, massive infrastructure upheaval, appearance of sales teams from hardware and software companies selling curiously more expensive versions of cheap PDAs with large (and hideously expensive) server software suites attached. Gartner appeals to the Network Nazis in us all: "By not tracking PDAs, enterprises disassemble the hard work done by the IS organisation to provide a secure enterprise environment." And here comes the process. Says Dulaney: "We recommend that enterprises consider purchasing PDAs for employees to eliminate the uncertainty of who controls the data on the device. As PDAs are 'asset tagged' and thus supported within the enterprise, they incur costs similar to those found on notebooks and other enterprise-owned devices." We leave you to figure out for yourself, first, why it's a good idea to volunteer to jack a cost up from zero per PDA to the equivalent of a notebook, second, why you ever bothered to pay attention to TCO surveys anyway, and third, whether you deliberately set up an IS department is something in order to increase your IT budget by an order of magnitude or two. ®

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