Horse Sense #97

Toys for Techs


Yes, this e mail is being sent on Cyber Monday.  It is NOT about the holiday consumer buying frenzy, but about your business needs (though some Toys for Techs make great personal gifts as well).

Horse Sense is meant to be useful for long periods of time and few ideas have proven more useful than Toys for Techs (tm).

If you are Ebenezer Scrooge, you can stop reading now. But, if you want to know more about how you can make Toys for Techs work for you and bring happiness to techy girls and boys, click here to see last year's article: and read below for some updates since last year.

The tax law has not changed.  You can still take a generous $500,000 Section 179a tax deduction for Toys. 

A couple of other Toy ideas bear thinking about.

-Get an "invisible" Toy.  An upgrade to your server or network might not be all that readily apparent and might seem like giving your wife a vacuum cleaner, but this toy can really bring visible benefits. Consider 10GB Ethernet connections.  Modern servers, especially those using virtualization and high performance disks, can take advantage of the lower latency and bandwidth of these adapters.  These intelligent adapters are also able to speak more effectively with virtualized servers and high speed SAN/NAS drive array boxes.  The best place for high performance connections, though, is on your switches.  Two switches need to talk to one another over a higher speed connection than the connections to their gigabit ports.  Imagine 47 straws worth of water on each end with a single straw of water in the middle and you can see what a bottleneck you can create.  10GB Ethernet can be a good way to connect switches.  So are proprietary backplane or stacking connections.  Also invisible, but useful, is anything that can make your work easier and more seamless.  Upgrade that PC under your desk or that server in the closet.  New processors offer startling performance improvements, even if you have had your machine only a couple of years.  Gigabit connections allow for faster access to network resources.  One of my favorite upgrades is a solid state disk.  Imagine booting your computer all the way up in less than 15 seconds and everything working faster and smoother.  Older machines and laptops, which tend to have slower hard disks, can see enormous speed improvements.

Get a "feel good" Toy.  Green technologies can make you feel good about doing your thing for the environment, but they can also save money as well.  Many of the ways you save money may not be obvious at first glance.  More efficient devices turn more of the energy you send them into useful work.  Wasted energy normally turns up as heat.  You need to manage that heat to avoid hot spots near equipment or people.  Almost all electronics are cooled by air movement.  Air has little capacity to carry heat away from its source.  Moving the air helps, but air still moves heat poorly.  You may have to cool and move a lot of air to achieve an acceptable temperature in a particular area.  This gets expensive very quickly. 
There is also expense involved in loading your electrical circuits.  Exceed the acceptable load and the circuit breaker will trip, and you will have some expensive down time.  Though you have the outlets available, you may not be able to plug in all the equipment you want. 
But, if the equipment draws less power, you can put more of it on the circuit and not trip the breaker.  There are larger issues as well.  If you follow those circuits back to the electrical panel, you will find it only has so many amps of capacity.  If you exceed the circuit or panel load, you have to add more capacity.  Adding a new panel and new circuits is disruptive and costly.  It gets even worse when you get to the macro level.  Imagine a $1 billion 25 megawatt generation plant (No, I do not know how much they really cost).  As soon as you reach 60% of capacity, you probably need to start thinking about building a new plant because at 25,000,001 watts, your customers will have to turn something off.  It is even worse than that as you will also have to build entirely new sets of transmission lines to deliver the power, etcetera.  This is why the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 has provisions in it rewarding those who buy more energy efficient technologies.  Clothes washers, refrigerators, water heaters, and heating and cooling systems are eligible for either tax abatements or rebates.  If you are a large power user, energy companies will often help you analyze your use and offer you monetary incentives to build more efficient plants (including computer data centers).

Going green saves wallet green.  You can save:
(1) on energy and fuel costs
(2) via lower taxes and electrical rates due to less infrastructure building costs
(3) by postponing or eliminating the cost of your own electrical upgrades
(4) through tax and business incentive payments

Saving energy and conserving resources is very cost effective when you consider how much continually adding more capacity costs.  Green investments can pay for themselves quickly.  Think of saving energy as a rebate on your rent or mortgage payment each month.

©2011 Tony Stirk, Iron Horse