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Purchasing Guidelines

With continuous increases in technology purchasing, it is more important than ever to allocate resources effectively. The best way to plan for new purchases is to examine the history of school-based computer technology and plan for the future use of those technologies.

Three main statistics are typically used to describe a personal computer:

  • The speed of the micro-processor (CPU)
  • The amount of memory (RAM)
  • The amount of local storage (hard drive) space

The speed and capacity of these three components is always increasing. Today’s best and fastest computers will be average within a year.

SBCISD takes advantage of technology while it is current.

If you chart the growth of the three statistics, you will notice that they double every one to two years. If you go back to 1990, which is roughly when schools started heavily using personal computers, you will see several trends emerge.

If you connect the points of all the high-end systems over the years, you will see a straight line representing the “cutting edge” of technology. Computers at or above this line will be overpowered and very expensive– these are not the machines to buy for typical use.

If you draw a similar line through the lower-end or budget machines, you will see a trailing edge of technology. It is interesting to note the within two years a cutting edge machine becomes a trailing edge machine.

Finally, one more line beneath the previous line represents the level of machines that cannot be upgraded any further and do not run current software. These machines are not obsolete– there is still good software that will run on them– but there is no current software being developed for them, and support maintenance may be hard to obtain.

If you extend the lines to the the future, you have a fairly accurate predictor of what will develop as computer technology grows. When planning a new purchase, it is helpful to examine these trends as far ahead as you expect to be actively using the hardware that you intend to purchase– five years, for example. A good five year plan is to purchase computers that will not need to be upgraded for three years, and can then be upgraded to last another two or three years.