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Down to Brass Tacks

Standardizing on Microsoft across the board helps Continental Grading Co. in Chicago do without IT personnel. Continental is a small company, with 30 employees, and all technical matters are handled by the firm's CFO, Tony Aukett. "I use Windows at home, so when it comes to doing administration, it's familiar to me," Aukett says. "I'm not a particular lover of Microsoft, but it makes life easier for a small business."

Continental uses Outlook for messaging, SQL Server for database management and Windows XP on the desktop, and Aukett points out that while Microsoft products are expensive, his company doesn't have to spend money integrating software from a number of vendors.

For a small environment, we see Aukett's point, but remember, TCO (total cost of ownership) is a key factor to consider. The best-of-breed approach might cost more up front, but often you'll save money in the long run by avoiding out-of-control licensing schemes.

Mid-Atlantic Funding, a real estate company in Chantilly, Va., tries to have it both ways, says CTO Joel DeClue. "We standardize in areas that require a lot of support--infrastructure, desktop services," he says. "But in certain projects where we need maybe some new process to really kick things up a notch, I might go best of breed."

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