Today we reached a milestone, a success that was fraught with huge opposition and deep seeded resistance. Seven weeks ago today my good friend, and former employer, gave me a shot to help him with his business. The goal was to change over his entire digital business systems onto a Linux platform. This meant changing over his server, workstations and portable devices. The transition was flawless, and only took the better part of an afternoon to switch everything over.
Let me back up here to that day Seven weeks ago when the switch was pulled to transition over to Linux, and the migration of data afterwards. The business was in a tailspin, largely due to the stagnate Canadian economy, and Bank debt that rid the company of its buying power. Ten employees were laid off, and the office staff was now but a skeleton of its former self, down to Five employees from Twelve a month before. The server that hosted the email, software and company data was completely shut down. The I.T. company who was servicing the server had stopped servicing it due to nonpayment, as they increased their costs for support to over 24 percent. When they stopped work on the systems, the company was literally locked out of its own computers as each software and program collapsed in a cascading fashion, until it all stopped altogether. On top of this, employees were using their own email accounts, which caused a problems of communication with everyone else in the network. Then spam and junk mail infected most who were using public types of email hosts within a matter of days. It was chaos!
The final straw was when the accounting program was hacked and most of the data was deleted. The RCMP were called in, but they admitted that there was little they could do. An estimated Fifteen thousand dollars went missing right after. My friend was ready to throw in the towel and call it quits.
One May 1st, after many phone calls and meetings, I was given the go ahead to start the Window Cleaning. The server was the easiest, as converting the systems was all most out of the box with Linux. I had purchased the commercial version through Canonical, which supports Ubuntu for Businesses, witch is ten times more friendlier that the former propitiatory support we had before. Then the setup on the workstations and mobile devices—which took a little longer than I anticipated—but was completed before the workday ended.
Monday morning was the test in the petri dish. Staff were a little “freaked” to use a bad choice of words, as we had the morning staff meeting announcing the changes. I call it, “jumping into the ocean swim test.” Cries, screeches, and other nasty words, could be heard muttering under people’s breath in the room. The boss made it clear, “you will be trained, but if you do not like it, then leave.”
Within two working days, all of the staff were running on the new systems. The same accounting software was brought in, a similar email host was brought on-line on the “on-site” server, and all administration programs were customized and ran on the existing database as before. The first positive comment that was made by most of the staff was that each workstation never crashed. So far, only one crash has being recorded in the last Seven weeks. The second positive feedback was that not one virus, spam, Trojan or Worm was found in the system—and we fed it lots!
The costs went from $2,100.00 (Win Server biz-11) down to $650.00 (Ubuntu Server 12.04) pre month for the entire system—server, workstations and mobile devices. This included support, software upgrades and loads of options. Remember that the initial software was free.
I guess success can be measured in many different ways. My friend accepting to try something new, and embracing it, is perhaps a huge success for me. The employees using it, is a success for the business. But perhaps the greatest success is that a company is saved, and several people are keeping their jobs.
Anyway, this is my take on small to medium sized businesses in Canada regarding cost cutting measures and keeping up with the market economy. No one has the spare cash to throw away at poor support and overpriced software riddled with potential problems. Most businesses need computers and software to manage their actives and production—and that should not break the Bank for any company. When someone says that they have the perfect computing system for your company, and it will only cost you an arm and a leg, then they are usually lying—and you have been scammed. I say think out side the box and look hard for alternatives, it could save your business.