Is it Time—Time to Replace a Server?
Just like any other piece of technical equipment, as servers age, they become less efficient, their performance slows down, and they require more support and maintenance. According to industry professionals, the lifespan for a server is usually 3-5 years, but recent data shows that more companies are replacing servers every 2-3 years. Year-over-year, companies allocate most of their budget toward hardware. When it comes to hardware budgets, laptops, desktops, and servers are companies’ most significant expenses.
Servers have quite a bit of responsibility. They not only store data and host websites, but they also provide access to remote users through a VPN, run business software, and control permissions to access resources within the IT environment. Servers have an important role in maintaining smooth business operations, which means they need to be continuously monitored for changes in efficiency and resource use. Automated tools can monitor server performance, but an overall evaluation of servers should be part of a company’s periodic network security audit (Link to checklist).
HOW TO EVALUATE
Evaluating servers will help identify if it’s time to make a change for more efficient and secure hardware. Use these criteria to evaluate a server before making a decision.
Performance. When a server’s performance drops, business systems slow down. Everything that touches the server is less responsive and less efficient. Employees may have trouble logging into the system through the VPN, w load times slow down, and hardware may fail. Keeping servers running at optimal performance prevents unnecessary downtime.
Warranty. What’s the warranty expiration date for the server? New servers typically come with a 2-year or 3-year warranty. Server warranties can be extended, but most manufacturers won’t allow more than 5 years of total protection coverage on a server.
Maintenance and Support. Regular hardware maintenance helps extend a server’s reliability and performance. As servers age, they require more maintenance and support, resulting in longer downtime.
Costs. A new server can take a bite out of the budget. When performance decreases and maintenance and support costs start to increase, it’s time to do a cost analysis to determine what to do next—whether that means an upgrade, replacement or the decision to migrate to a cloud solution.
When a server reaches the end of its lifespan and it’s no longer providing the security or performance your business needs,or if your business is growing and you need to make changes to your network, there are options.
Upgrade — Upgrading your server’s hardware or software is the most economical way to meet the growing demand on the network. But while replacing parts, adding ram or memory, and updating software can make it more secure and extend the life of a server, it’s only as a short-term fix.
Replacement — Replacing a server isn’t an easy decision, especially for a small- or medium-sized business, because servers are expensive. However, the good news is a new server means that it will operate more efficiently and perform better with the current business systems, and it supports future network growth.
Migrate — Today, more companies are choosing to migrate to cloud-based, virtualized servers or at least use a hybrid approach for more robust data security. More frequently, companies are deciding to move to virtualized servers (link to virtualization blog) in order to avoid capital expense, add additional storage, eliminate downtime, and easily manage data backup and recovery.
So, as you can see there are a handful of options which can support the next steps for dealing with an older server. Keep in mind that decisions should be based on future business plans and goals. It’s vital that whatever plan of action you take (e.g. upgrade, replacement, migration) results in significant improvements to business operations and solutions. It’s common for companies to check with their Managed Service Provider to help with evaluations and recommendations.
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