Even in times of economic recession, SMBs have to find ways to keep their business moving forward and competitively meet market demand. This may mean increasing staff or adding or refining products and services, all of which expands business data. For example, in a recent IDC report, small businesses need to expand data storage by 60% each year to accommodate data growth. Many business application providers are doing major overhauls of their applications as they move to the Cloud. That often means that servers need more horsepower for recent application versions. Staying ahead in business requires staying in step with technology and that requires a server refresh.
It’s tempting, once you have you applications and servers up and running to leave well enough alone and move on to other pressing matters but for small and midsized businesses that want to save money and improve performance, investing in more powerful, energy-efficient servers can provide a significant return on investment. Getting all that you can out of a server can be an appealing proposition but as with any aging technology, it can end up costing more money to maintain while you lose more and more computing power over time. The servers will continue to function but the cost of keeping them under warranty as they get older skyrockets over time. Typically, three years is the expected life-span of a server, which is the reason why most servers are sold with a three-year warranty.
The return on investment from a server refresh can come in a number of forms. The most obvious is an increase of efficiency. Server technology has become so much more powerful and efficient, the latest servers can support two to three times the workload while consuming considerably less power. This results in two areas of savings in technology spending. The first is the ability to consolidate and virtualize several old servers into a single new unit. Imagine for a moment the result of consolidating ten physical servers into one; there would be fewer purchases because there are fewer servers, less square footage to pay for if the servers are in a data center, reduced management of resources, and lower energy consumption. A combination of consolidation and virtualization can save somewhere in the range of 40 to 75% of upfront and ongoing hardware costs, making a server refresh significantly more affordable than it used to be.
Older hardware that is reaching end of life often experiences increase downtime. Servers are designed to have over 99% uptime or in other words, only a few hours of unintended downtime per year. Chances are good that older servers need to be powered down in order to perform repairs and maintenance. That’s in contrast to newer servers that can be maintained while they are up and running. As servers age, and application usage increases, downtime will increase, costing the company hours or even days of wasted user idle time.
Companies with older servers may be using legacy applications that no longer have support available. Vendors will generally bundle support for new applications with a hardware purchase, offering the opportunity to introduce high performance applications that will integrate more smoothly with other more current tools and provide new business advantages.
Replacing servers and other critical hardware allows organizations to deploy updated equipment intended to improve reliability, enable new and anticipated capabilities, and save money in the long term. Keeping in mind that not all servers are created equal it’s important to work with an IT provider to map out both short and long-term goals so that the new equipment has the capabilities to support future projects and business applications.