IT departments in nearly every industry and sector are being asked to do more with less and increase productivity, not costs. Unfortunately, the make-and-fix mentality is artificially inflating IT spending, especially when it comes to your servers.
According to Single Source IT, the servers were found to have a strong first year after being put into use, with only 5% experiencing issues. This was often due to some minor misconfiguration. Over the next two years, they maintained their reliability before hard drives started raising concerns around their fourth year at 11%. From then on, it becomes clear that the server will need to be replaced for operations to run smoothly and efficiently.
When is the best time to update your servers?
Your IT team is the best resource in this case. Ask them if you need a server upgrade and listen to what they say. However, if you need a business case to justify the spend, consider the actual costs of the following situations:
Your servers are outdated and no longer supported by the manufacturer
One of the easiest ways to make sure it’s time to upgrade your server is if it’s out of warranty (or worse, if the manufacturer no longer supports it). The older it gets, the more prone to failure it becomes. Disk crashes, power supply surges, and localized overheating become much more common as the server ages. If the manufacturer doesn’t support it, you have to fall back on third-party legacy support, which can get very expensive quickly.
They are slow and cannot keep up with your current traffic or demand
Poor performance is a sure sign that server upgrades are in your future. The slower your apps run and the more often they crash, the more productivity you lose.
You are experiencing data loss or corruption due to hardware failure
If you are relying on an older server, having a strong data backup and/or disaster recovery plan becomes vital. However, hardware failure is never a quick and easy fix. Even with a good backup solution, you’re experiencing a lot of downtime.
Security risks: Your current servers are vulnerable to hacker attacks
One of the best reasons why regular server updates are standard practice is that updating dramatically improves the security of your data. For example, if you are running Windows Server 2003, you have not received security patches for some time. An update will ensure that you get timely security updates and close security flaws as they are discovered by the community.
Maintenance and repairs are becoming more expensive and time consuming
The longer it takes to upgrade your server infrastructure, the more you’ll spend on maintenance. You’ll also start to experience more unplanned downtime, which could be a problem for your entire operation. There is a law of diminishing returns for old equipment, and servers follow it quite predictably.
Need more storage space for your growing business or data set
This one is easy. If your server can’t physically accommodate the data you need to store on it or can’t handle the performance you need it to deliver, you know the solution.
How often should you update your servers?
If you don’t want to wait until the last possible moment to upgrade your server, and you absolutely shouldn’t, a good rule of thumb is to upgrade every four years. If you upgrade to a decent model, you should be able to cope with what you need for at least three years. However, even the best of the line is usually a disaster after five years.
The importance of updating your servers
Over time, older servers will become financially impossible to maintain and will have to be replaced. However, you are not saving money or time by putting that date off as long as possible. By the time you’re regularly faced with the pain of an outdated server, chances are you’re past the point where the total cost of ownership of a new server is less than the total cost of maintaining your existing equipment. Why spend more to maintain lower performance?
What to consider before upgrading your servers
All of that said, don’t just throw money at the problem. Take the time to learn what you need from a server upgrade. Learn which options would definitely help and which ones won’t help you at all. Also, take the time to explore radical changes in server architecture and placement. For example, have you considered a dedicated cloud server? If you don’t have the in-house expertise, Liquid Web will be happy to help you.
Benefits of upgrading your servers
Paradoxically, the most obvious benefit of a server upgrade is the one you’ll notice the least. That’s how you’ll know it’s working: you won’t notice your computer complaining about slow application performance. You won’t notice your server crashing or throttling noticeably on peak demand. You won’t be paying for the overtime IT team having to fight to get the server back up and running before work starts the next day. A new server that has all the capacity you need is almost invisible, just as it should be.
How to upgrade your servers
In short, you have a choice: build the in-house server upgrade and maintenance you need, or use an organization like Liquid Web to manage the upgrade for you. One option is much easier and less expensive than the other.
We hope this article has made you consider the cost of maintaining older servers and the business case for a planned upgrade, before an emergency upgrade is necessary. As they say, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
If you would like help or advice on upgrading your servers or other vital IT infrastructure, please contact Liquid Web, and one of the most helpful humans in hosting® will be happy to assist you.