Indulging my inner geek.

This week Computacenter opened a new branch office on a small nondescript street in the leafy north west London suburb of Mill Hill. There was no laying of a cornerstone nor was there any real fanfare …save for PL Junior screaming ‘hooray daddy!’ at the top of his lungs when the WiFi connection came back online and Mrs. PL stopped giving me the evils as she was trying to order more track suit bottoms from M&S.

To be sure, if you drive around Mill Hill looking for a new Computacenter logo board you won’t find one …if you haven’t guessed already, the new branch office is actually my home office within Casa PL.

Now, many folks have home offices and as the world becomes ever more mobile, home offices will become more and more de rigeur and less of a unique phenomenon. So what makes me special? Nothing really, other than I recently decided that prices had dropped sufficiently enough for me to ‘supercharge’ my home office’s IT capabilities.

*Warning: You already know I’m a technoweenie, and I’m about to geek out for a paragraph or so!

I have upgraded the sub 2MBs DSL internet connection, which uses copper, to a more stable and efficient 8MBs broadband connection which uses fibre optic cable. I have also upgraded my four year old Linksys 802.11b/g wireless router which transmitted at 2.4GHz …and was rather flaky at distance through Casa PL’s brick walls …to an Apple Airport Extreme Basestation 802.11a/b/g/n which operates at 5GHz and slices through the brick walls like hot knife through butter! I’m downloading at 8MBs from Mrs. PL’s garden!Also, the PS3 can stream from the new connection, and Mrs. PL and I were able to watch old Dragons Den episodes using the BBC iPlayer from the PS3 connected via an HDMI cable to our 1080p high definition telly. And, the pièce de résistance? I have connected a 2TB SATA drive kit to my wireless router with a USB 2.0 cable …et voilà! Casa PL now has NAS storage where we can centrally store all of our iPod music, videos, family photos, documents, backups, the lot …and with the MacBook Air I’m consistently getting 230MBs – 300MBs transfer speeds to the disk inside the house …and I have remote disk connectivity setup so that I can access our drives from anywhere in the world with an internet connection using a Mac, iPod iTouch …or even a 3Gs iPhone! Fandabbydoozy!

What has this got to do with Data Storage & Protection?

I could take the obvious route here and continue to indulge my inner geek by extolling the virtues of SATA drives and screaming hot wireless connectivity etc …but I won’t. Equally, some of you may know that I haven’t been feeling well this week and may rightly wonder where I found the time to do all of this. Well, thankfully I wasn’t squealing or snorting …and I don’t eat pork …so I think I’ve survived the man flu as opposed to swine flu, but would you believe me if I told you that I accomplished the above in a little under 37 minutes? Okay, I had a little help from our friends at Amazon.co.uk with delivery …but setup from start to finish, including opening the boxes …was 37 minutes. The speed at which we can now deploy IT, providing you know what you are doing more or less, is becoming frighteningly quick …and easy.

But why did I do all of this? Just to impress you, dear reader? No. You see, with the setup above …and my trusty and loyal friend the MacBook Air …I don’t think that I’ve ever been more efficient in my professional life. And, as practice leader in a business with 200+ sales personnel, 5+ tier one storage vendors, and 500+ hard deck customers alone …I need all the free cycles I can get! Yes, when it comes to efficiency I will admit that the shiny brushed aluminium and slim form factor alone of the MacBook Air are as difficult to justify to Mrs. PL as a pair of Monolo Blahnik would be to me …however, walking in to a customer meeting and being able to open the clamshell of the MBA and be able to work instantly? The native 802.11n wireless support? Not having to lug a 1.5 kilo hunk of metal on the plane? Access to the Windows corporate build via virtualisation software? Efficiency cubed. And the additional accroutrements of the new ‘supercharged’ home office add …nay, amplify …this efficiency.

In saying that, Mrs. PL really couldn’t care less. Yes, okay …she is supportive of any efficiency that means I don’t bring work home at night or weekends and spend more time with her and PL Junior …but 802.11a/b/g/n 5GHz NAS connected devices? She couldn’t give a Fig Newton …but when the wireless connection kept breaking down, or the internet was too slow for her to harvest her crops in FarmVille after PL Junior went to bed, or when the internet connection would reset every time the bleedin’ phone rang, or when we had to ‘sneaker net’ files with USB drives between her ‘puter and my CrackBook …you bet your patootie she cared, and I got an earful!

And so it is with our customers; I believe that the world has become almost evenly divided between those who view IT as a strategic enabler to their business and are prepared to invest sensibly (me, in the equation above) versus those who aren’t at all interested in ‘speeds and feeds’ and view IT as a service (Mrs. PL in the equation above).

Who is right? We .. and they …both are, and Computacenter solutions are designed to address both IT as a strategic enabler and as a service. But we aren’t stopping there …we are so confident of our ability to positively transform an IT environment to be more agile and a strategic business enabler that we are now prepared to have ‘risk / reward’ conversations with customers whereby we will underwrite the savings and risk associated with the transformation. Equally, Colin Bradford has me and others busy at work designing ‘Storage as a Service’ and other IT services which fit into managed offerings whereby we can sell a customer storage at £(x) per user per month.

The challenge is in knowing how to identify our customer’s business issues and ensuring that we articulate the answer as either a strategic enabler, service …or both.

Please feel free to contact me if you need assistance with such a journey now.

-Matthew

Click here to contact me.

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