Storage rooms stacked high with defunct hardware may not get much attention from the bean counters on a daily basis, but it can weigh heavily on the mind of any IT manager or CFO who knows there’s gold in those obsolete desktops.

Well, maybe not gold, but a significant savings when you consider

the amount of money tied up in the storage of hardware that has been deemed no longer worthy for everyday use.

Asset management has become a greater concern in the last number of years, especially with CFOs watching the bottom line with an eagle eye.

But even though life cycles are being extended, storing aging machines remains a burden for many companies on many levels.

It is estimated the three-year cost of storing a computer is about $360 per machine and $220 each for its eventual disposal, says Belinda Tang, vice-president and general manager of global financing with IBM Canada.

IBM and other vendors are beginning to address the issue with customers, offering them ways to reduce their storage costs and in some cases, get some money back on old systems.

“”We’re helping customers with the task of disposing of assets they don’t need and in doing that they want the maximum return possible,”” says Tang.

But it’s not just the cash hidden amongst the keyboards that customers have concerns about: data left on hard drives and having the hardware disposed of in a way that is friendly to the environment is important to them too. “”We provide this service to them to dispose of assets and we can give them a certificate at the end of disposal as a way of telling them we have complied with all regulations and not to worry about future liability,”” says Tang.

And disposing of equipment is just one way of deal-ing with old technology.

Tang says companies can also request the hardware be re-sold for the organization and share in the profits.

“”If they don’t want to worry about wall-to-wall inventory management and want us to come in and do a review and assessment we offer that too. That means we take possession and take care of shipping and disposal and whatever we get out of it we will keep, but they don’t have to pay us a fee.””

Tang says IBM can also refurbish equipment and help clients redeploy them to other departments through a cascading process. “”They may have equipment used by a high-use area where they refresh every two years and there may be a more basic use that can be redeploying these assets after they are refurbished.””

Avocent Corp. also recently announced its Take Back and Recycling Program to encourage recycling of all unwanted KVM switches (keyboard-video-mice). Avocent offers cash rebates for old equipment when it is being upgraded to new Avocent technology. Upgrade rebates can amount to thousands of dollars depending on the application.

Hopefully, hardware isn’t as expendable as it was in the past. An IDC Canada study completed in June shows 60 per cent of medium and large businesses are hanging on to their PCs for three to four years — significantly longer than the early 90s when it was about 18 months.

“”I think we’ve reached a certain point of good enough computing,”” says George Bulat, director of data driven products with IDC in Toronto. “”For most of the applications out there most of the hardware is more than adequate.””

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