SanDisk: We’ll Upgrade Your PCs For You!

SanDisk Tech Assisted Refresh (STAR)In a move that The SSD Guy wishes he had thought of for himself, SanDisk has begun to help corporations upgrade their fleets of notebook PCs by replacing their HDDs with SSDs.

SanDisk calls this program STAR for: “SanDisk Tech-Assisted Refresh”.  According to the press release: “Through the STAR program, SanDisk relieves IT departments of having to manage all aspects of upgrading corporate laptops such as, endpoint inventory analysis, employee service scheduling, system upgrades, data migration, daily progress reporting, post-upgrade analysis and support.”

SanDisk points out that PCs slow down with disk utilization and software updates, lowering users’ productivity.  Often faster storage can solve that problem.

This is not an altogether new idea.  Kingston Technology had success with a similar program in 2010, hosting over 500 events where CIOs in a number of different cities were invited to bring a corporate laptop to a reception and have its HDD swapped out for an SSD.  A week or two later Kingston approached them and asked if they wanted to perform the same swap for the company’s entire fleet of PCs and generally found success.  Kingston ramped its SSD sales very rapidly that year into the hundreds of thousands of units.

Part of Kingston’s success came from the fact that the PCs were typically 2-3 years old and had relatively low capacity HDDs.  An SSD of the same capacity as the HDD in these PCs cost only about $100.  The CIOs could either spend $500-1,000 to buy each employee a new PC or spend $100 and postpone the larger expense for another year or two.  This was a very easy decision.

The difference between the two programs is that Kingston only performed the swap for the CIO’s PC, and all subsequent upgrades were the responsibility of the IT department.  With STAR SanDisk undertakes all of the work of swapping out every PC in the company.  Since this will be the STAR team’s only job, they will probably become very efficient at the task in a very short time.  And, of course, SanDisk will get the SSD sale.

This migration of PCs from HDD to SSD, extending the life of the PC, could be an important component of the recent years’ PC sales slump, a phenomenon that I wrote about for Forbes.  In that piece I presented the idea that Intel’s processor business was harmed by the company’s participation in the SSD market.  In SanDisk’s case, there is no downside, only upside.

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