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Guide to tackling a server refresh project

Every business must eventually upgrade its servers and other hardware. For some, the server refresh project comes around once every two to four years, but some data centers hold on to old equipment for longer. The exact time for a server refresh project depends on the circumstances of the business, but this guide offers up some general advice on when to upgrade and the options currently on the market.

When to upgrade

1. Is it time for those servers to go?

There comes a time in every data center's life when aging servers must be put to pasture. We call this the server lifecycle. Exactly the moment when servers go from productive to nonproductive is up for debate, but there are guidelines to help individual businesses know when to engage in a server refresh project.

  • When do servers go past their prime?

    Figuring out when to let go of your trusty servers and upgrade isn't easy. The amount of money needed for replacements makes most businesses want to hold on as long as possible. Here's how to tell when it's time for old servers to go.


  • Ask the right questions to determine server upgrade strategy

    Another take on data center hardware lifecycle management, this tip delves deeper into the economics of server and other IT equipment replacement. The relevant questions are "how much" and "how little."


  • Five tips for an effective server refresh

    Between deciding when to upgrade and actually doing the upgrade, it's important to research the products you want to buy. What will they add to your data center? What will it cost? Ask these and other questions before planning that server refresh.


  • Optimize the rest of your facility to house new servers

    So you're going to replace some servers. Why not take a look at a few other simple techniques you can use to make the whole data center more efficient while you're at it? Most of these updates don't add cost, and will save money in the long run.


Hardware upgrades

2. Hardware: Server refresh options

You've determined that you need a server refresh, so it's time to pick the products that work for your data center. The upgrade process is a good time to evaluate whether your current types of server hardware still fit workload needs. Do you want to stick with traditional servers? What about microservers or even a mainframe? Now's the time, so take a look at your options.

  • Introducing the new norm for server processors

    There's a new IT mantra that processor vendors must follow when creating the next generation of server processors. How these processors perform will help determine what goes into your server refresh.


  • Traditional vs. appliance servers

    When it comes time to upgrade, will your IT shop go with traditional servers? Evaluate all the options before purchasing.


  • Open source server design takes off

    If the options for server upgrades don't wet your whistle, perhaps it's time to think about building your own using the open source designs from the Open Compute project.


  • Finding the right server memory

    Learn more about the basics and the different types of server memory to make an informed decision. Business workload capacity, performance and reliability depend on it.


  • New mainframe technology validates big iron

    With all this talk of "the new hotness" in servers, perhaps we should look to "the old crusty" instead. Mainframes have come a long way, and they might still be the way to go for some enterprises.


Software upgrades

3. Server software upgrades: The other side of the refresh

Once the hardware is chosen for your server refresh, it's time to look at the software. Is there anything you'd change about your current operating system? A server refresh is the perfect time to upgrade to new versions of an OS or to get an entirely new one. Plus, now that you're upgrading systems you can build some server monitoring software into the plan, or add a layer of automation to the data center. The possibilities are nearly endless.

  • Migrating from Unix to Windows

    IT administrators will have a lot to learn when they switch from Unix to Windows. Try some of these tips to help ease the transition.


  • Windows Server 2012 upgrades

    Deciding to make the switch to Windows Server 2012 is not easy. There are new and updated features galore in this version. This handy tip takes the "If my IT shop does this, then we should upgrade" approach to various data center scenarios.


  • The end of the Unix vs. Linux debate

    When Linux was new, it was fraught with problems. Security and administrator skills were two areas of contention, but as Linux is no longer new and has fixed many of its issues, is it time to let Unix fade out?


  • The right monitoring software for the job

    Choosing a server monitoring tool is more complicated than throwing a dart at a list of vendors. Answering some questions about your business' needs could save money and ensure the right tool is applied to the right thing.


  • Adding automation to the data center

    A server refresh project is the perfect time to consider automating some of IT's more time-consuming, simple tasks. This way, staff is freed up for more interesting and beneficial side projects.