Early this year, a quiet turn of the calendar marked Year Six for $1.8 million worth of desktop and server computers at a cutting-edge product-development company where I was chief information officer. The strategy used to ensure that the computers reached this landmark birthday was simple we based their maintenance schedule on that of our cars.

The average automobile, if you follow its maintenance schedule, protect it from rust, and drive reasonably, should last you six to 10 years. The maintenance schedule is based on your use of the car as a complex tool to get you from Point A to Point B. Your computer is also a complex tool and your usage will determine its maintenance and protection needs; how you follow through with those needs will determine how long you’ll get to use your computer and when you’ll need to shift monies away from your mission toward your computer. More »