NCD Diamond Partner Assistant
Total Cost of Ownership Calculator and Configurator

Click here to download a self-extracting copy of the Diamond Partner Assistant.

Welcome to NCD’s Diamond Partner Assistant
Providing a Total Cost of Ownership and Configurator

The Diamond Partner Assistant (DPA) is the one tool you need to create a master plan to justify a customer’s moving to Central Application Deployments and use of Thin Clients over the use of PCs with hard drives and their inherent complexity and rapid obsolesce. We call this "Thinfrastructure". The following model is a guideline to assisting your customers in executing a Thin Client strategy. The Diamond Partner Assistant guides you through the process, such as your own technical resources in building the servers with the appropriate software licenses for deploying your applications.

With the Diamond Partner Assistant you’re just five steps from a polished Total Cost of Ownership and configuration for planning/budgeting purposes:

  1. Gather Server Information (Pages 2 thorough 4).

  2. Determining the server platform and basis of cost (Page 5).

  3. Determining the PC and TC information for your operation (Pages 6 thorough 12).

  4. Calculation of TCO from initial investment through five years (Page 13).

  5. Configuration details for each vendor’s products and cost (Page 14).

The Microsoft Excel model works under Windows 95/98, NT 4.0, and 2000 Professional. Excel 97 and Excel 2000 are compatible for running the Diamond Partner Assistant. We recommend that you have a minimum of a 166MHz Pentium CPU, 32MB of RAM, and 5MB of free Disk space. All screens can by printed or "cut and pasted" into another file.

The TCO model is a template workbook (TCO 2.0.XlS) that is data driven from a basis workbook (TCO 2.0 Basis.XlS) which together contain the information and logic for the model. You can go between the two workbooks by selecting "Window" from Excel’s main menu and then selecting the desired workbook from the Window dropdown menu. In the basis workbook you will find that fields with a green background are changed by the model during various input and computation actions, and the fields with a blue background are manually changeable by you to allow for your specific computing requirements. If you desire to make any changes to the blue fields permanent, be sure to save the basis workbook (TCO 2.0 Basis.XlS).

Most information and data comes from years of experience and collaboration of dozens of people from Compaq, Dell, Gateway, HP, IBM, and Microsoft along with Citrix, META Group, Thin Planet, and customer experience. This program is a living model with expected improvements that reflect the changing paradigm experienced by corporations around the globe. We welcome your suggestions.

How to Get Started

After downloading the file, you need to double click on the file to expand it to three files in the directory "C:\NCD\TCO Calculator" known as TCO 2.0.XlS, TCO 2.0.Basis.XlS, and ReadMe.Doc. You load the TCO 2.0.XlS workbook file in Excel 97 or 2000. If you have macro protection enabled, click the "Enable Macros" button on the workbook contains macros warning popup. If you do not have auto-update links enabled, click the "Yes" button on the workbook contains automatic links to information in another workbook popup. This will start the model, which will be ready to use when the "Loading..." page goes away. Note that to maximize the viewable space for the model, the Full Screen viewing mode of Excel is used. Excel keeps track of the last known state of this setting. To restore Excel to Normal viewing mode, select "View" from the main menu and deselect "Full Screen" from the View dropdown menu.

You have two options at the opening screen. The first is the "Executive Summary" that goes through the screens dealing with PC versus Thin Client aspects of computing a five-year cost of ownership. It is your responsibility to enter the server information along with the client configuration. The system computes everything else giving a general idea of your cost savings for each year from implementation through 5 years. The second is a "Full Detail Model" allowing for all pages to be utilized. You can view the full disclosure by clicking on the "Next" arrow and the "Back" arrow to return at any time. All the pages can be navigated via the "Back" and "Next" arrows.

After performing an initial case, you can go back to previous pages. On page 2 you can select other versions of Microsoft, NCD, and/or Citrix software to compare server costs and sizing found on page 5 and total costs of ownership found on page 13. On page 5 you can choose the recommended server configuration or override with your choice of server vendor and model to compare server costs and sizing as well as the total costs of ownership found on page 13.

When you are done using the Diamond Partner Assistant, you may desire to restore Excel to Normal viewing mode. To do this, select "View" from the main menu and deselect "Full Screen" from the View dropdown menu. You may then either close each of the two workbooks (TCO 2.0.XlS and TCO 2.0 Basis.XlS) or just exit Excel. In either case, when Excel asks you if you want to save the changes to the workbooks, click the "No" button.

Custom versions of this model can be accomplished at two levels. The first level is found in your ability to modify the fields in the basis workbook (TCO 2.0 Basis.XlS) that contains all the data and computational logic that drives the DPA tool you are viewing. Fields with a blue background can be permanently modified for your use. The rest of the DPA is locked down to minimize operational problems. The second level is accomplished by contacting Karl DeGraff at DCB Systems Integration, Inc. (P.O. Box 2479, Tulsa, OK, 74101-2479, 918.307.0440, Support@DCBSystems.Com, The DPA model can be opened up for customizing the server configurations and pricing, application names and sizing, PC names and sizing, and configuration customizing, along with other additional work that you may desire.

Discussion of Light, Medium, and Heavy Users for Sizing Servers

In Page 3 you are first asked for the number of PCs running Windows 95/98, NT, and Thin Clients. Then you are asked to determine the number of users that will have access to each application. If you click the default values button on the left, you will be modeling a "Medium user" application usage mix. Should your users represent a different mix of application usage, enter the adjusted numbers to properly size the servers configured on Page 5 of the model. A good example of the three types of users to consider, which is put forth by a number of third party consultants, is:

Light users are employees who might be on the manufacturing floor, field personnel, managers who check eMail, do a small amount of Word, Excel, Browsing, and games along with accessing an Accounting system for checking on information or a short 2 or 3 page report. These employees spend about 15 to 30 percent of their day at a PC or terminal.

Medium users are employees who might be administrators, sales management, operations management, or customer service representatives who check eMail, work regularly with Microsoft Office, along with accessing accounting and client server applications. These employees spend about 40 to 60 percent of their day at a PC or terminal.

Heavy users (a.k.a., Power users) are employees who might be in a data analysis position as full users of Microsoft Office, regular use of database reporting and summaries, or use Publisher applications regularly. They typically spend 60 to 80 percent of their day using the PC or terminal and are constantly demanding bigger computers to accomplish their jobs.

Here is a table of typical values for the fields on Page 3:


Light users

Medium users

Heavy users





Ms Excel




Ms Word




Ms PowerPoint
















Database Application




Legacy Application




X-Application Access




Games (Solitaire)




User Application





Model Status

While not a complete list, major areas not covered by this model are as follows:

  • The software licenses for all applications such as Microsoft Office and Database applications. You will also need other services such as anti-virus and tools for managing the server farm to be installed.

  • We have not addressed the network aspect of the Thinfrastructure installation in this model. We have included an extra LAN card in all configurations to allow for moving user data and server communications. Graphics and other tasks for the clients using RDP and ICA should be prioritized. You should find that LAN traffic is reduced potentially in half or more depending on your current use of client/server technology. Remote access is via serial connections with Citrix ICA or a PPP session established using either RDP or ICA protocols.

  • We have not set-up the other possible servers needed for support such as the file and print servers. A minimum of three disks are provided in each server for mirroring the OS, applications and a disk for temp, scratch, and other such files. There are many other examples of configurations and you should consult your server manufactures for help.

Items at press-time that are not included or are not working in the model:

  • You are not able to directly save or retrieve a case file. You can print and cut & paste any page of information into another document and the incorporate it into a proposal or eMail to a distributor.

  • You cannot change any fields on the basis workbook other than the ones with a green or blue background without our assistance.

  • The annual updates for NCD products and others are not computed in the tables or on pages 5, 13, and 14+. The information is provided for your review only.

  • The DPA model typically does not check if values you enter are realistic or make sense with other values and assumptions in the model.

  • Only on the PC and Thin Client hardware pages can you adjust pricing. Software and server pricing is at or near list pricing. Thus, the TCO is limited to the actual cost you are going to pay for the servers.

  • Each product mentioned in the configuration has not been hot-linked to an explanation page or website.

Please note that the DPA is known to only work in Excel 97 and 2000, and that Microsoft strongly recommends that all service packs be applied to Excel to ensure proper and reliable operation of Excel.

Thank you for taking a moment to read over this background information. You will notice there are a number of hot links, such as the NCD logo, to websites for further information throughout the model. Please feel free to call NCD’s help desk for further assistance or eMail us at Sales@NCD.Com.

How to Uninstall Diamond Partner Assistant

If you are no further plans to use this program and you need to clean up space on the hard disk, it can be uninstalled as follow:

  1. Print this page of the ReadMe.Doc file for reference to help you complete the uninstall.

  2. Close the ReadMe.Doc file and Exit the program that you were using to read the ReadMe.Doc file.

  3. Close the DPA program (both workbooks) and Exit Excel (select "File" from Excel’s main menu and then select "Exit" from the File dropdown menu, answering any popup box questions).

  4. Start either the Windows Explorer program (not Internet Explorer) or bring up My Computer. These programs are usually on the desktop and/or on the Start menu.

  5. Navigate to the directory in which the DPA subdirectory and files were installed. The default location was "C:\NCD\". If you installed to the default location, you need to double-click the C: drive and then double-click on the NCD directory on drive C:.

  6. Right-click on the "TCO Calculator" subdirectory and click Delete on the popup menu. By saying Yes to the delete confirmation message, the DPA subdirectory and files will be moved to the Recycle bin.

  7. If the NCD directory is now empty, you may want to delete it as well. Navigate to the parent directory of the NCD directory. The default location was "C:\". If you installed to the default location, you need to double-click the C: drive.

  8. Right-click on the "NCD" directory and click Delete on the popup menu. By saying Yes to the delete confirmation message, the NCD directory will also be moved to the Recycle bin.


In Case of Trouble

If a problem occurs, please check the following items:



DPA does not run

ActiveX controls may not be available/accessible. Ensure that Excel’s ActiveX controls were installed and that you have access to them.

DPA exits immediately

The DPA model requires that both the TCO Calculator workbook (TCO 2.0.XlS) and the TCO Calculator Basis workbook (TCO 2.0 Basis.XlS) be in the same subdirectory. Ensure that they are both in the same subdirectory. You may also try reinstalling the DPA.

You receive an in-use error

Excel will not allow more than one user at a time to access a workbook, unless that workbook is flagged read-only. Contact your Network Administrator and request that the two workbooks (TCO 2.0.XlS and TCO 2.0 Basis.XlS) be flagged as read-only.

DPA hangs while running

Many situations can lead to this problem. In most cases the computer is not stable after a program lockup. The most successful solution to this problem is to shut everything down and restart the computer.

You receive a Runtime error

Most commonly the result of non-numeric characters entered into a number data entry field. Enter only digits, decimal points, dollar signs, and percent signs as needed into numeric data entry fields. If the problem persists, please send us an example of how to create the problem.

Unable to Print a screen

Many situations can lead to this problem. The best place to start is to attempt to print a test page to your printer. To do this, select Settings/Printers from the Windows Start menu to start the Printers maintenance program, then right-click your printer and select Properties from the popup menu, then click on Print Test Page. If the test page does not print or does not print correctly, click on the No button and a Printer Troubleshooter Wizard will be brought up that will lead you through a series of questions that may solve your printing problem.

If you cannot resolve the problem, you may call NCD Sales at 800.800.9500 or eMail us at Sales@NCD.Com.

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