I've seen some interesting offers, but SanDisk just took the prize. The company just launched a program called STAR, or "SanDisk Tech-Assisted Refresh." It’s a program to help IT departments upgrade their notebook PCs by replacing the hard disks with SSDs.
SanDisk says that through the STAR program, it will relieve IT departments of having to manage all aspects of upgrading corporate laptops, by handling "endpoint inventory analysis, employee service scheduling, system upgrades, data migration, daily progress reporting, post-upgrade analysis and support."
SSD analyst Jim Handy notes that this is not a new idea. Back in 2010, Kingston Technology hosted 500 events in different cities where CIOs were invited to bring a corporate laptop to a reception and have its HDD swapped out for an SSD. Then, a week or two later, Kingston approached them again and asked if they wanted to perform the same swap for the company’s entire fleet of PCs, and most CIOs took that offer, resulting in a whole lot of sales for Kingston that year.
Handy points out a big difference in the two programs. Kingston only handled the CIO's laptop. If they wanted to upgrade all of the other company laptops, that was the IT department's job.
Here, SanDisk is offering to do the migration on its own for everyone. That will undoubtedly be time-consuming, especially with bigger firms and offices.Even with disk imaging apps like Acronis True Image, you're talking a few hours of downtime. You can't do too many PCs or productivity will grind to a halt.
SanDisk's promises are a little grandiose. It claims replacing HDDs with SSDs can contribute to an annual cost savings of up to $608 per unit through an 18-month PC lifecycle extension, a 35 percent increase in employee productivity, an 86 percent reduction in IT Labor, and a 15x performance boost per system. That may be stretching things, but in general, you are always going to do better with an SSD for speed, power consumption and heat generation.
But it sure will stretch the limits of SanDisk's field engineers who have to do the work. For something like this, success may be a bit of a curse. It will be interesting to see if Dell and HP, with their massive services and consulting arms, adopt a similar policy.