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Make the case for a technology refresh strategy

A good portion of IT budgets are spent maintaining aging hardware. Energy efficiency, failure rates and potential downtime costs are all ways to justify regular hardware updates.

Data center hardware has a limited useful lifespan and you should periodically replace it instead of waiting for it to fail. Though your manager may not be thrilled with the idea of new hardware investments, there are ways to make a legitimate business case for building a comprehensive technology refresh strategy.

This way, you can have your IT budget go toward new and innovative projects instead of simply maintaining aging hardware.

One of the top arguments that you can make in favor of regular hardware refresh cycles is that hardware becomes less reliable as it gets older; the average server lifespan is between three to three-and-a-half years. You can put together a presentation to show your manager the statistical probability of a hardware failure within your specific infrastructure and show that odds of failure increase over time.

According to IDC research, server performance erodes at an annual average of 14%, so after five years, the server's performance is 40% less than when it was out of the box.

It's also useful to remind your manager how much money the company would lose every minute if a tier 1 application failed. Older servers with lower performance and higher failure rates increase yearly unplanned downtime by 20%, IDC states.

Your manager may point out that failover clustering and other forms of redundancy insulate your company's tier 1 workflows against hardware failure. However, maintenance costs for these redundancy setups increase as time goes on. The money that the company spends to replace failed motherboards and power supply units may be better spent on new hardware that the manufacturer warranty covers.

Plan spending habits with a technology refresh strategy

Scheduled refreshes make hardware costs more predictable. Imagine that your company uses lots of older hardware and that one of the servers fails catastrophically and must be replaced. The server's replacement cost is an unplanned expense that negatively affects the IT budget. Depending on the scale of the failure, you may need to postpone another IT project because of the unexpected expenses.

Scheduled refreshes make hardware costs more predictable.

If an aging server fails catastrophically, other servers purchased within the same timeframe could also fail soon. As such, it can be difficult for you to predict how much must come out of the IT budget to replace any failed hardware.

Scheduling regular hardware replacements as part of your technology refresh strategy gives you -- and any financial decision-makers -- the opportunity to budget for the hardware replacement costs. This decreases the chance that you must defund a different IT project to make up for unplanned hardware replacements.

Reduce operating costs with environmentally friendly hardware

Energy efficiency is another compelling argument in favor of periodic hardware refreshes. This means that on top of less power consumption and reduced carbon footprint, newer hardware can help bring energy savings.

Server power supply units are rated by efficiency. Some older power supplies, for example, were rated at about 70% efficiency. The latest power supplies that have an 80 Plus certification are at least 80% efficient, with some power supplies being over 90% efficient.

The latest hardware offerings can have low-power or power-conservation mode to switch off when they aren't running workloads. This means that your server infrastructure may not require as much power as models from five or 10 years ago.

Low-efficiency power supplies waste electricity, which converts to heat and drives up your data center's cooling costs. The right technology refresh strategy can introduce the latest server hardware into your data center that is designed to be energy efficient can reduce costs and extend the hardware lifecycle.

New hardware helps infrastructure consolidation

Regular hardware refreshes can help you consolidate your infrastructure -- potentially saving money or allowing you to pursue other projects. Because modern servers are more powerful than those sold a few years ago, you may be able to run your organization's workloads on fewer physical machines.

Server consolidation can reduce any infrastructure power and cooling costs. With fewer servers to manage, you can also take time to reevaluate your software license inventory and upgrade workflows.

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