Before discussing platforms, obsolete or otherwise, an explanation of SCS's business models might help in clarifying our evolving choices.
Our best-of-breed applications are in use at major newspaper groups, numerous metro newspapers and many mid-market newspapers. Our enterprise-wide systems are deployed at mid-market newspapers. For all of them our systems are deployed on on-premise servers or local cloud systems. Because we adapt to their changing requirements, nearly all customers faithfully subscribe to our support. They seem to well appreciate the service we provide.
We saw an under-served market among large weeklies and smaller-market dailies, where non-corporate decision makers are both looking for solutions and are approachable. There are literally thousands of these. Many have such good franchises that they can afford new technology, especially if it can help them do more with less.
Our new business model is to provide both software and hardware under lease and manage everything from our office remotely. We are making excellent progress with this. Currently the statuses of over three dozen appliance servers at customer sites are displayed here using Nagios. Every 15 minutes statuses are updated. We often attend to issues before the customer is aware of them.
We wish to grow this model since we see providing quality support as our strongest unique selling advantage.
What are large weeklies and smaller-market dailies crying out for?
Functionality and adaptability - How can they get the features that big newspapers use and can afford but on a much smaller budget?
Maintainability - Doing more with less is hard if it requires an expensive IT staff. Maintenance is best outsourced to specialists like us.
Reliability - No moving parts. No tape drives, disk drives or other mechanical storage devices. Good platforms have sufficient redundancy so that they have no single points of failure.
Ample capacity - Enough processing power and storage to meet not just everyday requirements but peak demands.
We found what we think is a near perfect solution for today's newspaper server platforms.
I'm not sure Intel appreciates how good their NUC (Next Unit of Computing) devices are. NUCs are sold as easy-to-configure kits. I think Intel thinks their primary use might be for high end gaming, but you couldn't ask for a nicer appliance for a network of small servers.
For around $1,300 we get enough computing power to run our applications at small and medium-sized newspapers. How much power? Multi-core 3GHz processors, 16-32 GB of RAM, SSD storage to 3TB, versatile connectivity, etc., all in a 4"x4"x2" case. And it gets better with Linux compatibility, very low power requirements, a 3 year warranty and operation without expensive environmental devices. They're closet compatible. Each can support up to 75 users and they are expandable group-wide through easy networking.
We provide NUCs in pairs as local cloud appliances with optional remote near-realtime backup systems.
NUCs enabled us to transform from an ISP (independent software provider) and VAR (value added reseller) into a MSP (managed services provider). Most importantly we were able to do this without experiencing significant negative cash flow for initial equipment purchases.
Picking appropriate technology enables business transformations.