Could your business operations improve with Blaze Networks?
The laptops and desktops which Blaze supplies are business-grade systems. These Windows and Apple Mac computers have been carefully selected for their durability, security features, and business functionality.
Business-Grade Computers v Consumer Models
A common misunderstanding amongst consumers and business professionals alike is that PCs are all pretty much the same, only varying by performance (assumed to relate to Intel’s Core i3, i5 and i7 branding and generation of processor), memory and storage capacity and (for laptops), battery life and screen size. This is far from accurate, and since competition amongst PC manufacturers is so intense the manufacturers “cost-engineer” to a price point. With PCs you very much get what you pay for.
All major computer manufacturers, such as Lenovo, HP and Dell, have a number of model ranges for different intended use. There is a world of difference between, for example, a £380 Lenovo IdeaPad, Dell Inspiron, or HP Essential for consumer and SOHO use and (the more expensive) business-grade Lenovo ThinkPad, Dell Latitude or HP EliteBook laptops. When the comparison is made with second tier or no-brand makes and these business grade machines, the comparison is even starker.
Business computers are built to be both reliable and sturdy, and to have a long enough life that the Total Cost of Ownership is better value for money.
Blaze Networks Only Supplies Business-Grade Computers
Because Blaze are typically managing a fleet of PCs on behalf of each of our customers (part of our IT support services), we know that to supply lower-grade machines will be false economy. Customers who choose to source these often discover the short comings themselves, and more often than not have to replace them earlier than they would like.
Blaze normally supplies either Lenovo ThinkPad or Apple Mac systems. Within the Lenovo ThinkPad range, there are “good”, “better”, and “best” alternatives in the form of ThinkPad’s E, L, and T series systems. For desktops we supply Lenovo’s ThinkCentre range of machines, which has a similar choice of alternatives.
So, what is the difference between Lenovo ThinkPad and the “value” alternatives?
Business PCs deliver superior performance, lifecycle stability, robust security, and usually have better manufacturer’s warranty and premium support offerings.
Built for a Long In-Service Life (Lifecycle Stability)
From a design perspective, Lenovo ThinkPad, like Dell Latitude and HP EliteBook have been manufactured to meet the exacting requirements of large corporations and government departments. While your business might not be as large, Blaze’s approach ensures our customers get the same benefits which the corporates are looking for.
Having all the systems that an IT team is managing in a known state is important: this is key to operating fleets of computers, keeping problems to an absolute minimum, and ensuring a good end-user experience (ie great dependability).
Having systems in a known state ensures that the result of any upgrades (hardware or software), connectivity of new peripherals, networking changes and the like can be tested on machines in the IT department rather than introduced in a haphazard manner.
To enable this, these business-grade machines are manufactured with standardised parts where variation of components is kept to an absolute minimum, and they are also designed to have long in-service lives. The result is that a machine acquired a couple of years ago will be built exactly the same (i.e. using the same standardised parts and connectivity) as a machine of the same model number that is made today. This is known as “lifecycle stability”.
With cheap machines the opposite is true: manufacturers simply shop around for the very cheapest components at any point in time and are non-standard; the result being that two machines bearing the same model number can actually be quite different internally, to the degree that they could even have a different BIOS version and a mixture of component device firmware versions within them. For stand-alone machines for personal use or for a sole trader, that is fine. When you are trying to run a business as cost-effectively and smoothly as possible, using dozens or hundreds of PCs across the company, this would be creating major problems for the future.
Future-proof for Good TCO
Business-grade machines such as Lenovo ThinkPad are designed to be in use for longer (and more intensively) than consumer machines are designed to.
Aside from having a better build-quality (such as being built using higher grade components, having more robust shells and hinges, spill-resistant & bio-safe keyboards, being more dust-resistant, and having gone through more careful assembly), business-grade machines will be more upgradeable, have state-of-the-art battery technology, have the latest connectivity ports, and support for the latest WiFi standards. Other common differences are exchangeable batteries (they don’t last forever), number and type of ports, number and type of memory slots and SSD interfaces, and are likely to be manufactured to Mil-Spec standards (Mil-Spec PCs are built to resist airborne debris, extreme temperatures, shock & vibration and in many cases moisture).
While innovation is constant among major PC brands, business-grade machines are not an experimental playground; large corporations need stability and dependability. When you see marketing that highlights the latest technologies in business-grade PCs it is not really because manufacturers think end users will like that.
It is because the companies who own large fleets of machines need to know that their investments today will have a long in-service life and are as future-proof as can be.
With very rare exceptions, the “innovation” promoted by business grade brands points the way to what will be mainstream technologies in just a year or two. A long in-service life combined with easier serviceability means that business-grade PCs have lower Total Cost of Ownership (TCO).
Particularly with the rise of working from home, security is more important than ever. Security has been a key design requirement for business-grade PCs for a long time, including the ability for IT departments to remotely control, manage, and secure all of the business’ PCs, wherever they may be.
To this end, business grade PCs often include features such as support for BitLocker, enhanced SCCM capabilities for remote management, support for Intel vPro platform, and Absolute Application Persistence features which prevent an end user from disabling or altering corporate-installed applications.
Other security features in many Lenovo ThinkPads which are not found on “value” PCs include:
- SSD encryption
- Remote configuration technology for AMT, with certificate-based security (enabling remote configuration can be performed on “bare-bones” systems, before the OS and/or software management agents are installed)
- Trusted Platform Module (TPM 2.0) Security Chips for encryption
- Enhanced WiFi security features
- Infared (IR) cameras for facial recognition
- Match-in-Chip fingerprint readers which ensures that the fingerprint data never leaves the chip
- Smart Thunderbolt/USB protection which restricts access to hardware ports, restricting data transfer and allowing only non-storage peripherals such as mice and keyboards
- BIOS-level security features such as Secure Wipe that can erase the contents of the SSD securely
- Self-healing BIOS functionality, enabling reversion to a BIOS backup that is safe in case of cyberattacks that strike at the BIOS level.
Blaze will normally deliver PCs which have been pre-loaded with a fully tested software image that is specific to each of our customers (our system imaging service). Just as companies benefit from having a standard software image, there are also advantages in standardising on a specific range of hardware make and models. (It is often not cost-effective and/or practical for Blaze to test this software image against ad-hoc PC purchases.)
Total Cost of Ownership – Business-grade PCs are the Economical Choice
Since the majority of the cost of providing an employee with a PC occur after the machine has been deployed for a few years, the Total Cost of Ownership needs to be considered, including support, service and possible replacement costs. Focusing simply on initial hardware cost is false economy and leads to bigger problems in the future.
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In doing so, Blaze have access to a vast array of products that allow us to overcome our customers’ business challenges and requirements.
Blaze is a Microsoft Gold Partner and Tier 1 Microsoft CSP Partner. We specialise in Microsoft 365 (including Teams and Teams Phone System), in Microsoft On-Premise and Hosted / Cloud Infrastructure, and enable businesses to continue their digital evolution by fully exploiting the latest capabilities of Microsoft products as they evolve.
Blaze is a Managed Secure Solutions Provider (MSSP) Advanced Partner of Fortinet, a global industry leader in the supply of secure networking infrastructure systems. Fortinet are our technology partner of choice when building customer-specific Private SD-WANs. A Leader in several of Gartner’s Magic Quadrants, Fortinet equipment combines excellent performance with advanced security features, superb manageability, and excellent Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) per Mbps.
Veeam is a highly respected leader in cloud-based backup and recovery software, data protection and advanced monitoring in the data centre. We have combined Veeam technology with our highly secure Blaze Cloud™ infrastructure to produce BlazeVault™, a highly dependable, secure, and resource-efficient solution which will keep downtime to an absolute minimum in the event of data loss in operational systems or ransomware attack.
Bitdefender is a global cybersecurity leader protecting over 500 million systems through OEM technology partnerships, including with many global IT companies. Tests show it is unmatched in Attack Prevention. Based on Bitdefender technology, Blaze Endpoint Protection hardens endpoints to prevent malware and malicious attacks, and it provides the investigation and remediation capabilities needed to dynamically respond to security incidents when they evade protection controls.
Cisco has long been the world’s pre-eminent network systems vendor, particularly for technology used at the core of major corporate networks and the internet. In addition to using Cisco equipment within our customers’ private networks, Blaze incorporates Cisco technology into the heart of our own network operations; the Blaze Private Core Network is built utilising Enterprise-class CISCO core routing equipment.