As with all technology, servers need to be replaced and/or upgraded at some point. There will come a point when they're no longer fit for purpose and don't meet the needs of your company. However, it's up to you to decide when this is and what your options are.
What is the average lifespan of a server?
In general, servers are expected to last between five and eight years, so it's a good rule of thumb to start thinking about replacing them around the five-year mark. However, there are a range of variables to take into account that could shorten the life of your server.
For example, environmental issues, such as running a server in a hot or dusty atmosphere could increase the chances of a premature failure. The type of storage you're using will also have an impact. Hard drives in particular, which contain the most moving parts, will need to be replaced more frequently, while if you're using RAID storage, life expectancy halves as the number of drives doubles.
Why you should replace your aging server
The older the servers are, the harder they become to maintain. Finding replacement parts can be time-consuming and costly, while the servers also become less effective at dealing with the demands of your business. Not upgrading your servers also means you'll miss out on new features that could benefit your business.
There are options when it comes to replacing your servers and ways to ensure you’re getting the most out of them while you can, so why should you look to update your aging servers?
1. Old servers equal higher costs
While purchasing new equipment is incredibly costly and a big investment for any company, maintaining your old servers can actually be more expensive over time. As Juriba points out, service and maintenance costs can increase with older servers as they require more work to keep them running smoothly.
Whether you hire IT experts in house to deal with your servers or outsource your server maintenance protection, you need to have something in place to protect your servers and data, as well as to ensure your business can continue running smoothly. This can soon exceed the total amount you would have paid on a new server system, while the chances are you'll run into more and more problems as the server continues to age.
On top of this, your business could risk losing money in terms of productivity and services available to customers as servers gradually become unfit for purpose. Slowing servers and a lack of new features that allow you to compete with others in your sector can all have an impact on profit, which isn't ideal when your outgoing costs of maintaining servers are also creeping up.
2. Holding off increases risk to business
You might think that the best option to save costs and disruption to your business is to wait to replace your servers until they reach the very end of their life. As with all technology, this will eventually happen, but waiting time increases the risk to your business that something drastic could go wrong.
As Computer Weekly highlights, waiting until the very latest opportunity to replace your servers can mean that your company is relying on hardware that is unsupported or that cannot be fixed in a timely manner should something go wrong. This can mean there is a greater chance of losing sensitive data or that your organization ends up offline for an extended period.
In order to deliver a reliable service to your customers and ensure their sensitive data is safe, you need hardware that is up to the job. A solid IT infrastructure is, therefore, essential to not only ensuring your business can run smoothly, but that customers are also satisfied with the service they're receiving.
3. Look to virtualization
Investing in equipment that's suitable for virtualization won't mean that they have an extended service life, but it will mean that you benefit from longer refresh cycles. This is because, as Tech Target explains, workloads can be migrated between server hardware platforms as and when required.
Virtualization ensures that a business is able to make the most of the available computer resources without needing to update hardware in order to support new server software. You can also better protect data and your servers by synchronizing servers across different systems, meaning that if one goes offline, the others are able to run it.
What this can mean for businesses is that they don't need to replace servers every three years or so, as available systems can easily take on workloads that were previously hosted on machines that are no longer functional or fit for purpose. Virtualized servers can deliver more than five years of service so long as the hardware is suitable in the first place.
This means that looking into virtualization options when considering your aging server could help to mitigate costs and ensure your company is better protected.
3 signs your server is in danger of crashing
So how do you know that your old servers are nearing the end of their life? You can't afford to simply keep running them until they fail, as this can cause serious disruption. But by looking out for a few telltale signs, you should be able to take pre-emptive action to replace any aging servers before they have a chance to damage the business.
Here are a few key warning signs to look out for:
- High temperatures - If your server is always running hot, this is a common sign of an issue. It's said that once you pass 68 degrees F, every increase of 18 degrees F reduces reliability by around 50%. If you've eliminated any other causes of overheating, such as clogged cooling intakes or blocked exhausts, this can indicate your server is starting to struggle.
- Frequent reboots - Is your server constantly rebooting when you're not expecting it? This can often mean a more permanent failure is coming soon. Check your event logs, antivirus tools and do a physical check to see if you can find any other explanation for the failure - and if not, consider refreshing your hardware.
- Slower performance - Sudden slowdowns are just as bad a sign for servers as they’re for PCs. Drops in data transfer rates, for example, indicate there are issues within your hard drives, as do increases in the number of bad sectors that don’t respond to read/write operations. If these problems are becoming more frequent or more severe, it's time to act.