Keys to Hardware Management: The Hardware Upgrade (Part 3 of 3)

In the last of our series on hardware management, we discuss key components of a hardware upgrade.

New data center hardware is released constantly. While many businesses used to simply go by the industry standard of upgrading or refreshing their hardware every 3-5 years, we recommend that IT departments instead rely on a keen understanding of their IT environment and the needs of their business to determine whether they need a full refresh or can simply rely upon an upgrade to extend the life of their current hardware. In some cases, simply upgrading equipment might be possible versus completely replacing it (known as a “hardware refresh”).

Benefits of an Upgrade

Upgrades provide many of the benefits that hardware refreshes do, including lower operating costs, tighter security, and less system downtime. The other benefit of an upgrade is that you extend the life of your current hardware, thus improving your ROI on the equipment, instead of having to endure the cost of completely replacing it every few years.

Planning for an Upgrade

Planning for an upgrade is similar to a refresh. As with a refresh, it is critical to re-evaluate your server options, look for redundancies, check for any compliance gaps, and conduct both physical and network-based analyses. There are 2 additional aspects to be aware of as well:

    Consider the cost-benefit of extending the life of your current servers versus the cost of maintenance
    Obviously, making an existing server last longer will save money. However, while that’s often the case, when planning for an upgrade, it is important to be aware of the possibility that out-of-warranty hardware may require extended or third-party maintenance contracts, parts and expertise. Incorporate these costs before making a final decision in order to understand the true cost of an upgrade versus a refresh.
    Have a crystal clear understanding of your business needs, including application, storage and processing requirements to run the apps that run your business.
    What are you hoping to gain by upgrading server hardware? Improved reliability and availability? Support for more advanced applications? Better cost-per-performance economics? Make sure you and your IT team are aligned on the goals of investing in your hardware and whether on the one hand an upgrade is necessary and on the other hand an upgrade is enough (in which case a major server refresh might be required).

Data Center Upgrade Checklist

If you answer yes to any of the following, at least an hardware upgrade should be a serious consideration:

  • Has it been more than 3 years since your last hardware refresh?
  • Do you expect your business to grow in size in the near future?
  • Do you expect to see greater traffic with larger network bandwidth needs?
  • Will you likely need faster access to data or more storage soon?
  • Are you meeting security and compliance needs?
  • Do you have any operating systems in place more than 5 years old?
  • Do you have PCs in-house that are more than 4 years old?

While both hardware upgrades and refreshes can be expensive, avoiding them can be even more costly, so we recommend staying in tune with the age and functionality of your hardware as well as the needs of your business to ensure that you (and your IT) don’t miss a beat!