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Server Upgrade and Refresh Guidelines

Today’s servers last longer than ever, but even with the options available to extend server life, data centers will inevitably need to purchase new hardware. There comes a point when server hardware is simply too old to perform. But, the question is, how do you know when it’s really time? The key is to identify when increased performance potential, energy-efficiency requirements and reduced risk of hardware failure will justify a new purchase.

When is server hardware too old?

It’s a question IT Managers have asked for years. Today the question is even more complex. Virtualization and server hardware improvements extend server life. Clustering technologies can compensate for the increased risk of server hardware failure, giving administrators another option to extend a server’s useful life. Even so, there is a point where sticking with older server hardware can significantly reduce efficiency and pose unnecessary risks to business operations.

Is it time for a data center hardware refresh?

Although you can extend the usual three- to four-year hardware refresh cycle, IT managers have to make hard decisions as to when to update their systems to ensure adequate performance and efficiency. The first step is to determine whether new hardware is actually needed. Will a hardware upgrade solve performance problems?

Server hardware upgrade vs. technology refreshes

In some cases a server hardware upgrade can solve performance issues at a fraction of the price of a new server. Adding CPUs or memory can significantly increase a server’s performance. However, not all systems are upgradable, and upgrades don’t always fix poor-performing hardware. Moreover, new technology often provides new opportunities, allowing administrators to deploy more virtual machines or adopt more demanding workloads. Administrators should weigh these pros and cons and consider the expected return on investment and the impact on business operations before deciding.

Tactics for extending server life

Server hardware is expensive and represents a significant investment for any business. Maintaining server hardware according to the manufacturer’s standards and industry best practices will maximize its potential for as long as possible will help businesses stay competitive This is always important but especially so when buying new hardware isn’t an option. IT managers should know their options for maintaining current operations and extending the life of the server hardware the business already owns.

Getting the most out of a server upgrade

If buying a new server is out of the question, a server hardware upgrade can help keep a server relevant. But not all hardware upgrades will provide an equal return on investment. IT Managers should understand what types of server hardware upgrades will provide the most “bang for the buck” if they need more server capacity but lack the financial capital to purchase new equipment.

Putting old data center hardware to use

When consolidating a data center and taking advantage of new technologies such as virtualization, it’s essential to plan for the aftermath of excess hardware. Putting older data center hardware to use should be discussed early in the consolidation process. If older hardware is not completely outdated, organizations can find value in repurposing that hardware for noncritical workloads or environments where a single server fault wouldn’t wreak havoc on business operations.

Virtualization implications for a server refresh

Virtualization has had a tremendous impact on traditional data centers. Countless businesses have reduced energy and hardware costs as more IT professionals realize the benefits of virtualization. But virtualization on a large scale can demand powerful servers, which often come with a larger up-front cost. IT Managers need to consider how their businesses could benefit from virtualization and choose server hardware that can handle theCPU- and memory-hungry virtual machines (VMs). Administrators should also take care to avoid over-consolidation – where excessive VMs on a physical server can lead to deteriorated performance and system instability.

Virtualization benefits are worth the extra cost over physical servers alone

One of the most basic questions when preparing for a server hardware refresh is whether that equipment will be used for virtualization and whether virtualization will actually help the business save money. Purchasing a large server intended for virtualization could turn out to be more expensive than several 1U physical servers. However, the other benefits of virtualization, such as reduced support costs, centralized management and redundancy often make virtualization more valuable in the long run.

Before You Make A Server Decision. . .

Before deciding whether or not to upgrade your datacenter servers or virtualize your environment, talk to Advanced Network Systems’ Sales Engineering experts. We can help you navigate through the myriad of important decisions including determining how to size your physical or virtual server hardware for the workloads that you are planning to put on it. Our extensive experience in pre-sales support can help ensure you don't under-size this critical system or buy more hardware than you need.