Your company’s server, or servers, are critically important and yet often ignored, because they just work and work and work! But how do you know when it is time to give this mission critical equipment some attention before you end up with a dead in the water firm?
While it can be tricky to calculate a lot of variables, there is a trick we use that makes it easy. The complicated part is a server can fail in 3 years or it may run over a decade. It also depends greatly on how well it has been proactively maintained, patched, monitored, cleaned up, etc. While many firms are very good about keeping it tuned up and healthy, there are some firms who treat it like the copier machine: stick it some place and ignore, it until they end up in a nightmare situation.
Hint #1: It is FAR easier, cheaper, quicker to replace a working server than to try to migrate to a new server, new operating system when the server has died. That is NOT a situation you want to be in.
So what’s our tip to keep timing simple and easy to plan? It’s the warranty. If the server is under warranty, odds are it isn’t too old. It also means you can get parts. I always say, I’m not as worried about buying a $1,000 part in a server crash as I am about GETTING the broken part in a disaster. Believe it or not, it can be very hard to get a critical part if it isn’t under warranty.
Many server firms will not give you the ones they hold for customers under warranty. The last thing you want to do is start searching eBay and other scrap sites for some obscure part that may or may not ship by some mystery person and may or may not even work when you get it. While the entire firm can’t work for days!
Hint #2: It’s time to replace the server before the warranty expires. Or at a bare minimum extend the warranty.
We always purchase at least a 5 year warranty. We compromise on many things and look for ways to cut costs but we require a 5 year warranty. It’s a life saver.
There is a fair amount of planning and timing in replacing a server so you will want to do it many months before any deadlines. You also have the option (in some cases) to extend the warranty even further. Although there is a limit on this as well.
For example, Dell will let you extend a warranty for a maximum of seven (7) years from the time of manufacture. Even the mighty Dell doesn’t want to risk equipment that old which runs your business.
Hint #3: Just because you filled up your server or are stretching its limitations does NOT mean you need a new server.
If a server is well maintained and under warranty, there is a lot you can do to increase your mileage easily. A well-designed server can take more storage, more memory and faster chips if needed. But, believe it or not, in most situations, we can simply clean and tweak things for next to free, to make a huge improvement!
Knowing the warranty trick can really help with budgeting and planning also. If you know you are going to get 5 year warranties and plan on replacing the servers at 4.5 years, you can plan for both the cost and even set a reminder in advance.
In short, it is MUCH easier and cheaper to have replaced a server while it is working and plan ahead!
I often ask business owners this: What would be worse, losing a key employee or your server dying and losing everything? If they are honest, in most cases, the server down and the entire firm unable to work, data lost, would be the bigger damage. But servers don’t complain. They are easy to ignore. They just work and work. Until they don’t….