Like any other asset or device, servers depreciate over time and malfunction when you least expect it. The good news: we know why and when to upgrade servers.
Most upgrades can be divided into two buckets, upgrading to the newest technology and replacing existing servers for business continuity. Server complications can be anything from performance decay to limited disk space and an ended warranty. Either way, server administrators are responsible for maintaining and maximizing the technology that fuels our organizations.
We dive into the life of our high-powered computing friends and the multitude of reasons it might be time to consider upgrading your servers.
The Life of a Server
Servers, sadly, have not been designed to live forever. Technical management like part replacement and regular upgrades can extend the server life, but, in the end, servers typically only last 3-5 years. Depreciation and hardware life cycle play a role, but so does the RAID storage configuration. By adding hard drives, the life expectancy is diminished by almost half.
Adopting an equipment lifecycle management and recycling protocol only helps ease the process of upgrading to the next server.
Should I Upgrade My Server?
Servers are critical resources to business continuity, and their health should be a priority for any managing administrators. We run through the gamut of reasons why and when you’ll want to upgrade your server.
Business Continuity Value
Servers are arguably the most critical component of any organization. As the engines that store data, maintain performance, connect, and protect, their continued performance is essential to business continuity.
We start with this because it is a bit of a catch-all for the remaining reasons to upgrade. If any high-priority server seems at risk of malfunctioning, plan accordingly, knowing the consequences can mean extended downtime, security vulnerabilities, and more.
A popular reason for organizations and firms to upgrade is the demand for the newest features servers can offer. The practice by manufacturers of releasing hardware and software in unique cycles presents a struggle no organization can fully control.
A current organization server might have another year or two before its expected end-of-life. During that time, the server will continue receiving manufacturer updates, but the newest server hardware might offer required features in-house sooner than later. Best practices for server management here mean that administrators should not upgrade on a whim and only do so with justification.
Server performance declines by 14% annually, which means that it’s only operating at 40% of its initial performance mark by a server’s fifth year. On the client-side, slow performance can mean lagging operating systems that upend staff and customer expectations. There are ways of improving server speed like enabling caching, HTTP/2, a reverse proxy, and more, but doing so could take time and resources that administrators don’t have.
Inadequate management of disk space can be a recipe for danger. Insufficient free disk space directly affects the server performance and can lead to instability, degradation of the server, or shutdown. As disk space fills, it’s essential to take steps to remove shadow copies, full backups, and logs that aren’t business-critical. Otherwise, upgrading for additional disk space is an inherent part of maintaining and scaling a business.
While servers are inherently loud, there is a bar to the cacophony. Server administrators will be most familiar with irregular noise and should take prompt action to identify the source. From the rack’s frame to servers and their complementary parts, all depreciate over time, and the wear and tear could result in obstructed movement within the rack. Finding the noise source can inform the following steps to replace a damaged or malfunctioning server or other server rack component.
Servers that reached their manufacturer warranty can be both a security risk to your infrastructure and costly. Without an extended warranty of upgrade, devices disconnect from their manufacturer support, including critical updates and servicing. Continued manufacturer updates can be the difference between your server catching the newest malware strain and sitting pretty. Add on the potential cost of contracting a technician to service the machine, and the cost-benefit analysis could’ve told you to upgrade sooner.
For the budget-minded, the task is simple: does the cost of maintaining or updating the current server outweigh the benefits of upgrading to a new server? Many of the other reasons listed are attached to the cost-benefit analysis because server performance directly affects business performance. If the price weren’t a factor, organizations wouldn’t hesitate to upgrade. Because the cost is essential, organizations try to maximize the lives of servers and, when needed, upgrade accordingly.
Resource Intensive Servers
Do you know that server that seems to be causing timeouts and needs additional attention consistently? It’s a server that, for little identified reason, is wasting valuable organizational resources. Not as visible to staff and customers, server managers who work with a suite of machines can recognize which need regular attention. If no other reason is listed, the organization should consider upgrading to a new server or seeking technical support.
Upgrading: A time and place for everything
Whether you’ve waited long enough, developed a personal relationship with your server, or feel like the extra noise means it’s doing hard work, it might be time to consider an upgrade.
There is a time and place for everything, including an upgrade. With server management best practices, your organization should be able to inspect server health regularly and forecast servicing and end-of-life plans. When problems arise along the way, it’s always best to prepare for the worst and be ready to upgrade. The consequences of waiting are too significant a risk.