Russ Levanway, CEO, Tektegrity

It’s that time again! At the end of each year, we look back fondly on the last 12 months and think of all the great people we’ve worked with and the things we’ve learned.

We also look forward, to new experiences, new growth, and holidays filled with family, friendships, feasts and new toys. And at TekTegrity, when we say “new toys,” we usually mean new computers and network equipment. (But maybe that’s just us.)

Even if you’re not as excited by technology as we are, there are still some good reasons to review your organization’s IT needs at the end of each year.  Different types of equipment have different life spans. While some industries follow their own standards, our general recommendation is to replace workstations and laptops every three to five years and servers every four to five years, depending on your industry and the applications you run.

Reviewing your needs at the same time each year helps you plan your investments and avoid lost time or emergency repairs later.

Making equipment upgrades at the end of the year is often recommended because it can provide some tax benefits. There have been some changes to the Section 179 deduction for 2014, so be sure to consult your tax professional for advice.

Another reason to replace older equipment is to take advantage of all the features and productivity boosts offered by newly acquired software. The applications you rely on are designed to work with the most current operating systems and equipment that can keep up with increasing demands. So, don’t be afraid to bundle up this winter by upgrading software and hardware together.

If you already regularly replace your workstations, servers, storage devices other network equipment, here’s something else to consider. How long has it been since you replaced your router and wireless access points? Upgrading to equipment operating on the newest wireless AC standard could give you greater data rates, better range, and improved communication with certain types of devices.

Should old acquaintance be forgot? If we’re talking about Windows XP or Microsoft’s Small Business Server 2003 (SBS2003), the answer is a loud and sincere YES! Obsolete software is on the naughty list. Although we hope we’ve already convinced you to replace any equipment using the XP or SBS2003, we’ll mention it again. Sticking with those systems once support for them has ended can lead to some very serious consequences. Facing security breaches, data loss, and service interruptions can turn you into a Grinch pretty quickly.

We know IT upgrades aren’t the only thing on your list at the end of the year, so we’d like to remind you that you don’t have to do this alone. Your IT professionals are better than elves. They can help you evaluate your current network, smoothly upgrade equipment and software, and plan for upcoming needs.

It’s also good to remember that your IT pros may have strategic partnerships that let them pull some pretty good deals out of their bags. We all know that finding a little extra cash can be a pretty nice way to end the year.

Russ Levanway is the CEO of TekTegrity, an IT Managed Services Provider serving the Central Coast and Central Valley. The organization’s Total Systems Management™ (TSM) service model provides preventative IT support at fixed monthly fee levels. For more information, visit www.tektegrity.com.