Reliability = Cost control

Why are 1,000s of businesses switching to Apple-centric computing every day? Because it makes business sense.

The key to controlling the cost of any machine is reliability. The manufacturers who win in any industry are those that master the art of reliability – think of the auto industry, as one example. The reason this is true is because the ongoing costs of maintaining a machine, so that it continues to deliver its value, outweigh the acquisition cost by a wide margin.

Apple = Reliable

Businesses switch to using Apple computers and devices because they are reliable, and that means they cost less over their productive lifespan. Once a basic level of functionality is available, i.e. the machine can do the job, then reliability is the key factor. Software is now available for most business functions on Apple platforms, especially as we make the move to using web-based applications.

What makes Apple systems so much more reliable?

There are several factors that go into making a reliable computer, whether you hold it in your hand or put it on a desk. Here are the key factors that make Apple computing systems more reliable than others.

  • The hardware is better designed. It’s carefully thought through, and the result is a complete system that balances many competing forces of durability, performance and ease-of-use.
  • The basic software (the operating system) that Apple runs on its computers is designed to withstand the failure of individual applications running on top of it. This is key to both the reliability and the security of the system. Every process runs inside what is called a “sandbox”, which is a container that prevents that process from interfering with or compromising any other process.
  • Integration of hardware and software. Because Apple controls both the hardware platform and the operating system, they can do something that general purpose, generic systems cannot: they can test and validate the complete system. This eliminates problems associated with getting the hardware and the software to work together.

Quantifiably cheaper

Our experience over decades of managing Windows PCs is that it takes an average of 1 hour and 15 minutes per computer per month to keep them running reliably. And that’s only if the right systems are in place to automate patching, updates, anti-virus and backups – many businesses do not have good systems in place for these essential tasks.

Apple systems take an average of 30 minutes per month to keep running at peak efficiency. That’s a saving of 0.75 hours for every computer every month! At average rates for technicians that means a saving of £400/year in the UK, and $600/year in the US, for every computer.

Mobile management

Mobile devices (smartphones & tablets) are best when they are so reliable that they simply don’t need any management. Because they have been developed to be consumer devices, the best ones are essentially maintenance free. This is certainly true of Apple’s iPhone and iPad devices, which continuously score highest for end user satisfaction because they “just work”.

The business cost of mobile devices comes from integrating them into the company’s standards for security and function. The key is to be able to easily manage mobile devices, whether they are owned by the person or the company, so that they are tools for productivity without compromising the business’ security.

Cost control for mobiles

The cost associated with using mobile devices in a business centres around their manageability and their security.

In the same way that Apple’s control of both hardware and software in their computers makes them more reliable, Apple’s control of both software and hardware in their mobile devices allows Apple to make them more secure. Businesses in security sensitive industries know this, and that’s why adoption rates of Apple’s mobile devices in sectors like legal and financial are greater than 80%.

Having inherently more secure devices to start with means that you spend less time and money making them secure for your business.

Management control

Built in to every Apple iPhone and iPad is a sophisticated management and control interface that consumers never see. Apple’s Profile Manager is a key part of the 21core design and allows a business to control these features on any device that will be used by employees to perform business related work:

  • Define security access for the device, such as the use of passcodes and inactivity timeouts, to ensure that devices that have access to company data also meet company security standards.
  • Distribute business owned and licensed applications, so that everyone is using the company’s standard applications.
  • Automate the configuration of email, wireless and websites so that end users can get on with their work instead of configuring things like SMTP and SSL settings.
  • Control risk through the ability to lock, wipe and track lost devices, or erase business information from an ex-employee’s device.

These management controls work anywhere and any time, and do not require any additional apps to be installed on the devices. Changes made on the server are automatically pushed out to devices without end user involvement, the user just signs up the first time and the rest is automated.

Are you ready to save money?

When you’re ready to save money, and increase both the productivity of your people and the security of your systems, 21core is ready to help you make the transition.

Our designs and services leverage the reliability and security inherent to the Apple platforms to bring those benefits to your business, with the minimum of fuss and expense. Call us now and find out how we can help you bring your IT into the 21st century.

Open for business today!

21coreWe are excited to announce that effective today, December 1st 2014, we are ready to accept customers for our core services!

As the world becomes more mobile, we understand the challenges and opportunities that presents. Securing your information in the 21st century requires new approaches and new technologies, backed by professional services designed for the new paradigm.

That’s what we have designed core services to deliver: secure computing in a mobile world, with powerful collaboration tools, and always keeping the customer in control of their IT.

The core services are now available in the EU, with the first certified core cloud location in Switzerland.

We look forward to helping to transition your information technologies to the 21st century, reduce your costs, and make IT the servant of your strategy.

Contact us for more info.

Competing Priorities

Priorities cloudOne of the most difficult things for any organisation, particularly for-profit businesses which must always keep a eye on cost, is to discern the appropriate priority in a swirling sea of possible priorities. This is especially true in information technology (IT), where it can seem that security, efficiency and functionality are locked in a never ending game of rock-paper-scissors.
Here we offer a method that will help to clarify these priorities for your organisation by separating out major functions, and assigning appropriate priorities to each one. So that when you determine the purpose of an IT process, you will have a guide for applying priorities. (You can download this in our free booklet: Turning IT into GOLD.)


The competing priorities for IT are:

  • Security
  • Efficiency
  • Functionality

Each of these priorities can be competitive with the others, and your job as an executive manager is set the appropriate order, and provide clarity when there is confusion.

Categorising Activity

The key to setting appropriate priorities is to determine the nature of the process in question.
Every organisation can sort it’s activities into three categories:

  • Administrative
  • Operational
  • Proprietary

Once you have determined which of those categories the process in question falls into, you can set the appropriate priority when there are competing demands.

Priority Table

The Priority Grid

Of course, all three priorities still have a place in the order, and placing them in an order does not negate something that falls below the top priority.

Administrative: Efficiency, Security, Functionality

Administration is always a cost, a necessary and vital cost, but a cost nevertheless. The appropriate priority for an administrative process is to promote efficiency first. The output of an administrative process, its function, will always be a baseline driver of the process, but how it is delivered will also be determined by the quality standard you set for the output. The output of an administrative process needs only to be as good as is necessary to administrate, and too many organisations waste resources on increasing the quality of administrative processes beyond the point at which they can inform a good decision.

Focus on efficiency first.

Operational: Functionality, Efficiency, Security

The essential purpose of effort is output. The operational aspects of any organisation must focus on the delivery of its intended output, which means that there is little or no leeway in the functionality of an operational process.

Cost must be managed around function, which means that efficiency is the secondary priority.

Proprietary: Security, Functionality, Efficiency

Where the viability of the organisation is at stake, either in a competitive market or in its duty to its stakeholders, security must be the first priority. For businesses this can mean information about proprietary processes, customers, and vendor relationships, incorporating aspects of sales, marketing and business management. For any organisation this will also include private information about stakeholders.

It is important to distinguish between what is proprietary financial activity and administration, as these different activities are commonly lumped into a single department. You need to avoid adding unnecessary cost to what is purely administrative on the one hand, or allowing insecure handling of what is critical financial data on the other hand.

As there will inevitably be decisions that need to be made at an executive level to keep IT focused on delivering GOLD, this grid of priorities can guide you to make the appropriate calls in tight situations.

Priority Table

Priority Scale

Get your own copy of this method with more details and explanations, download this free booklet: Turning IT into GOLD.

Why is the “upgrade cycle” broken?

For the last 30 years IT systems have been primarily deployed inside businesses, actually inside their offices. A business would buy a system for their office, use it for as long as practical, and then upgrade it to a new one using then current technology.
Now, because the big opportunities for technology companies are in large-scale cloud systems, options appropriately designed for smaller businesses are rapidly disappearing. For instance, Microsoft no longer offers its Small Business Server that ran on a single server, they would much rather their small business customers migrate to Office 365 online.
For really small businesses, public cloud solutions have always been the better option, but for many business with more than a few users and less than 1,000 users, the old upgrade cycle is broken.
Those businesses are confronted with a choice between deploying systems internally that are designed for much larger organisations (with unnecessary functionality and complexity that drive up their costs), or moving to the use of shared, public cloud systems.
All is not lost. You can still leverage standard components to build affordable and appropriately scaled systems for the best of both on premises and private cloud deployment – you just may not be able to use Microsoft software to do it. (hint: 21core can help.)
Many businesses are reaching the end of their last upgrade cycle, and moving forward will require changes to IT that need leadership and clarity. We look forward to helping you with that transition.

IT = Process + Systems

Too often we lose sight of our objective, especially when dealing with shiny new toys! This is an particularly acute problem with IT.

Get your executive guide to GOLD

Get your executive guide to GOLD

IT is more about process than it is about systems, even if the systems are very cool and shiny. IT systems are merely collections of generic pieces; it is how they are arranged and used that delivers the GOLD to the organisation.
A difficult thing to accept about IT is that it is not static. It is almost impossible to capture the full picture of an IT system, especially one that is truly delivering GOLD, because that picture would need to include how people are using the systems. And people are constantly developing new ways to use their systems, so the true picture of IT is constantly changing.
When IT becomes orientated around systems, it is trying to avoid the much more important, and difficult, task of orientating around processes.

Process over Systems

In practical terms, managing IT Process means focusing on service management, because it is in the delivery of IT support that the opportunity arises to capture and update information about its use.
The key is to have an effective tool that can turn the everyday process of supporting your IT systems into a gold mine of information about best practices. Your IT design needs to incorporate service management and knowledge capture, if it is truly going to deliver GOLD for your organisation.

Use IT to make IT better!

Good IT design must include service management as an intrinsic element of it architecture.
Responsive support services, that are easy for users to access, are the best way to increase your return on your IT investments. And the best way to make support as responsive as possible is to make sure that you are always focused on the highest priority requests. You can use the Priority Grid to automatically assign appropriate priorities to requests as they come in.

Priority Scale

Click for more detail on Priorities

As issues are resolved, a good service management system will allow useful solutions to be added to a searchable knowledge base, that users can consult to find their own solutions in the future. This is your IT GOLD.