In the previous post, we discussed the importance of investing in business-class PCs in the workplace. Consumer-grade PCs simply don’t provide the performance, reliability and built-in tools required to support advanced business applications. They also make management, maintenance, support, security and upgrades more complex.
Of course, PCs aren’t the only kinds of computer gear you can buy from big box retailers, office supply stores and online marketplaces such as Amazon. As with PCs, you need to consider the trade-offs when choosing between consumer-grade and business-class equipment. Let’s look at four types of consumer-grade technology and discuss why they’re best left on the shelf.
Storage is one of the core components of your IT infrastructure, and there’s a reason why business-class systems are more expensive. They offer higher quality, reliability and performance so you can avoid data loss and service disruptions that affect your bottom line.
There are certain must-haves when purchasing a storage system for the workplace – capacity, scalability, support, advanced features, and compatibility. A plug-and-play storage appliance may provide adequate capacity for your current needs, but this often comes at the expense of performance. And when you run out of capacity, you have to buy another appliance.
Business-class systems are designed to scale as needed, and include features such as data de-duplication and compression to optimize storage capacity. Business-grade storage systems also have fewer compatibility issues and include more robust support.
When you have an onsite backup device, the same principles that apply to storage also apply to backup. A consumer-grade device typically lacks the quality and reliability to enable you to quickly recover data and get back online should disaster strike. Cloud-based backup solutions designed for the consumer market will eventually allow you to access your files, but recovery tends to be slow.
Business-grade backup technology is a must-have for data protection and disaster recovery. Look for a solution that backs up server images so you can resume normal operations as quickly as possible.
When it comes to wired and wireless network routers, consumer and business solutions have different priorities. Consumer-grade routers offer features such as parental controls and built-in servers that support gaming and streaming media.
Business-class routers focus on security, including firewalls, sophisticated encryption and content filtering. The ability to create separate user credentials controls network access. Features such as VPNs and virtual network support enable organizations to separate traffic and protect sensitive data. Business-class routers also emphasize Quality of Service by prioritizing latency-sensitive traffic, improving performance through load balancing, and preventing dropped calls and packet loss.
In some cases, you can get away with consumer-grade printers and peripherals, especially if you’re the only user. The speed and output gaps have narrowed, so the underlying technology isn’t as much of an issue anymore. Nevertheless, it’s important to choose printers and other peripherals based upon volume and use cases. Business-grade peripherals generally deliver more speed, reliability, features and security than consumer products.
The Bottom Line
Before you jump at the sale on consumer-grade office technology, think about the long-term costs in terms of performance, productivity, reliability, maintenance, upgrades and security. For all but the smallest in-home, one-person companies, business-grade technology is the better, safer choice.