Remote places – The reality of living in non-metropolitan areas

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This post won’t apply to most of you, because most of you (in all likelihood, over half of you) are living in major metropolitan areas. That said, some of us don’t, and this post is for those of us (and hey, it’ll be informative to those who do, because they’ve never had to deal with these issues).

When IT professionals in more remote areas design solutions, many things can factor into our decisions. Availability of parts, shipping & freight and distance to the client are only some of the things that we need to consider.

I will offer a disclaimer here: I live in northern Canada, above the 60th parallel in the Yukon Territory. We border Alaska, and yes, Dawson City and the Klondike (the TV shows Gold Rush Alaska & Yukon Gold) are only a few hours from me.

Availability of parts – You folks who live in metropolitan areas don’t understand this concept at all. When I need to replace a 2 TB SATA hard drive (read: SATA, not SAS or SCSI or something special), I have to order it and wait. A hard drive that size simply isn’t stocked in my city by any of the technology retailers (and we have a few, including big box ones). For me, that means waiting at minimum 2 days, since we don’t even have overnight delivery options.

Shipping & freight – My company doesn’t deal in rack mounting solutions very often. Why ? Do you have any idea on how much a rack cost to ship ? We HAD to bring in a rack a few months ago for one client who had several hardware appliances provided by their Point-of-Sale systems vendor which were rack mount. We ordered a 12U rack cage on wheels. Not that big, right ? If I remember correctly, the rack itself cost about $900.00. Shipping ? $1400.00. Yep, that’s right, the shipping was MORE money than the rack itself.

Distance to the client – Most of our clients are local in our city, we can get to any of them in under 30 minutes, no matter where we are. However, we do support clients who are in other cities, towns and villages. Our furthest client is located in a fly-in only community. Read: there is no road going to this town. Their only internet option is via satellite. The plane only flies in once a week. Hypothetically if there were a direct road from our city, it would be over 800 miles away. And yes, we are the physically closest IT services provider for them. Imagine a power supply fails and they don’t have a spare one sitting there ?

These are just some of things that those of us in more remote areas need to think about when we offer IT services. These are often things that those in more urban, metropolitan areas take for granted every day.


Martin Lehner

Martin Lehner is an technology professional working for an IT services firm in Whitehorse, Yukon (Canada). He has been working in the technology field for over a decade. With a degree in Business Admin and numerous industry certifications, Martin leads a team of IT professionals that provide third party support for clients. Originally starting a company to offer web development services, Martin quickly realized that clients wanted the entire spectrum of technology services. When Martin is not at work (which is not often, since his company offers 24/7 support), he is busy at home spending time with his family.

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