No one argues with the fact that servers have made office systems much more productive.
Server technology has made it possible for companies to centralize data and applications, paving the way for previously unheard of levels of collaboration, integration and data security.
The issue of server upgrades is much more controversial. Not surprisingly, technology manufacturers encourage business owners to upgrade their servers as frequently as possible. Business owners, on the other hand, prefer to put off server upgrades, often to the detriment of their network. So what's the real deal? How often do you need to upgrade your server and what are some of the signs that it's time to start the process?
In general, server hardware and software age at the same rate and require upgrades about once every three years. You can stretch it to five years if you're willing to accept the risk of lost productivity and simultaneous server component replacements. If your server experiences any of the following conditions, you'll know it's definitely time for an upgrade.
- Slow speeds. If you have experienced a noticeable decline in server speed, it's probably a good sign that you need an upgrade. Servers with 80% CPU usage bog down the platform and have intolerable server speeds.
- Maintenance headaches. How much time do you currently spend dealing with server-related problems? If it's more than once a month (unless you're an IT guy) you're probably spending too much time messing around with an outdated server.
- Strange noises. If your server is making strange noises, you could be hearing its death rattle. Instead of waiting for the inevitable system crash, upgrade your server and guarantee uninterrupted server function.
- Incompatibility. If IT people are telling you that your server belongs in a museum, what they probably aren't telling you is that your server is no longer compatible with the most recent business applications. The competition is using every possible advantage to capture market share. If you can't access current applications because of your server, you're tying your own hands behind your back.
- Warranty expiration. Warranty expiration alone may not be enough reason to pursue a server upgrade. But combined with other factors, warranty expiration should be a contributing factor in the decision to pursue an upgrade.
- Space constraints. Small businesses frequently put off server upgrades until there is absolutely no room left on the current server. If your server is approaching full capacity, start moving toward an upgrade sooner rather than later.