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Spending Vs. Saving

Self-preservation dictates, then, an incredible amount of work on the front end in terms of product testing and negotiations with the vendor for live demos, lab work and so on. All of this translates into staff resources. Customization means more staff resources. For example, I've implemented many SNMP network-management consoles over the years, and every organization I've worked with has thrown out the "autodiscover" maps and replaced them with hand-generated ones that were simpler--not to mention accurate.

This isn't to say that cheap tools don't have their gotchas. Hidden costs can kill you; for example, self-maintenance of code can be quite expensive, as we'll discuss in a moment. And it's tough to justify buying an expensive package once you've used an inexpensive offering--if it worked fine, be prepared to enumerate exactly what kinds of hidden costs you'll avoid by upsizing.

Lest those of you in small organizations think that your colleagues in the Fortune 1,000 have no need to skimp on IT tools, know that I've consulted for Fortune 500 corporations that poor-mouthed their IT staff but nonetheless expected it to deliver a high-quality IT experience to tens of thousands of users. If you're in this boat and not in a position to jockey for more budget, or if you're at an organization that simply doesn't have much in the way of resources, here are some guidelines on when to go cheap and when to stand up and justify the expensive stuff.

Special Issue:
Affordable IT

• Introduction

• Desktop Management

• Desktop Security

• Patch Management

• Protocol Analyzers
• Network Monitoring

• Network Configuration

• Storage

• Whiteboxes &
  Used Gear
• All-In-One Gateways
• Mobile & Wireless

• E-Mail
• Web Servers
• Load Balancers
• Remote Access Security

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