As the cost of replacing a server can be substantial, many organisations want to delay this for as long as possible. While this is understandable to ensure the maximum return on investment, it pays to be aware of the hidden costs of delaying the process for too long.
Here’s the Deal:
Server replacement cycle best practice is approx. 5 years, although this can be stretched to 7 years in some cases. We have found that after 5 years, general performance declines, and it takes longer to do various tasks. This translates into longer periods where your team are waiting for specific programs, file directories, or email. And as time is money, you can easily calculate the accumulated waiting time per person each week as a direct cost of the aging server.
If and when you do upgrade, it’s important that this is done right. We have seen too many cases of servers which were not properly configured from the start, which meant that it’s performance was seriously impacted, and the maximum return from this significant investment was not being obtained.
If your Server runs the Microsoft Server 2008 Operating System, Microsoft’s mainstream support for this OS ended in 2015, although extended support is available until 2020, which includes security updates. Therefore, now is the time to start planning to migrate to a new system.
Maximising your ROI – Ensure you account for these major functions
Employ Virtual Machine (VM) technology where warranted. A VM is essentially a server in the form of software, i.e. not a physical thing at all. A VM can be configured as a server that is inside the actual server. The advantage of this is that the VM can be rebooted without requiring the physical server to be rebooted, and uses less resources also. Other uses include: As a platform to run older programs which are incompatible with the physical server Operating System. Employed intelligently, this highly useful technology also let's you do things like testing specific Windows upgrades to ensure your existing applications won't be adversely affected.
Setting up the Domain Controller and Active Directory is a one time task, IF ITS DONE CORRECTLY. This feature enables users to login to the server, have access to folders based on pre-set permissions levels, access their email, and access printers on the network.
DHCP, or Domain Host Control Protocol, enables a server to assign IP addresses to all devices on the network. IP conflicts (i.e. 2 devices with the same IP address, causing some devices on the network to be unavailable) may arise if there are DHCP issues.
In the past, Servers included a mail server. Best practice currently however is to move emails from the server to the cloud. This way, emails are always available in the event of a server outage, and are backed up in realtime, and not exposed to server damage or encryption.
That’s Not All – Here Are A Few Other Areas To Consider
Our leasing partner, Grenke, offers excellent leasing options to small businesses, as an alternative to a large upfront purchase cost. The approval process is quick, and leasing is an effective way to manage cashflow.
In some cases, organisations avail of a hosted server (i.e. you access your server in a data centre over the internet), and have no physical onsite server. Advantages include very high uptime, a manageable monthly cost (you are in effect renting space on a server), and scalable pricing, where you only pay for resources that you use.
As a server is often the backbone of your IT, having a good disaster recovery plan in place is key. This will ensure that you have a plan if your server becomes damaged or destroyed, so that your organisation is minimally impacted. We did an article on this in February which covers the high level points.
By now, you know that upgrading your server is critical to get right, and should only be done by experienced professionals. Yes, that's right, just like us! Seriously, we want to help, even if we're not your provider, so go ahead and email me directly if you have any queries about this.