This is a question many customers ask as we approach them to replace aging Servers, Desktops, Laptops, software and related technologies. “It’s working now, why can’t I just wait until it dies and then upgrade to a new system?” The answer is simple. Costs will be exponentially larger when replacing systems in an emergency situation verses a planned event. Most of us interact with computer systems indirectly, from behind a monitor and mouse, and it’s easy to forget that your computers and servers are very active pieces of hardware that are constantly in use, many times 24/7/365. We expect them to always work. We count on them to always work, so doesn’t it make since that we would want to have a plan to freshen up the network before it dies? Hardware systems experience wear and tear. Hard drives constantly spinning at 7200rpm or faster, fans working their bearings to cool down components, capacitors constantly charging and dis-charging all add up over time. If you wait until a system fails you will experience significant downtime versus little to no downtime by simply having a proactive replacement plan ready to go. Life Cycle Management is a key strategy in many fortune 500 companies that know time is money and downtime is extremely painful. , The key to efficiently managing any IT network infrastructure is planning and ensuring the most stable equipment and platforms available. There are many reasons to replace and upgrade these workstations, UPS backups, laptops, switches and servers.
I will give you 3 of them to consider: Availability, Security, and Features.
- Let’s start with availability. We all depend on our technology to run our businesses. Servers generally have a recommended lifecycle of 3-5 years, depending on function. Because they are the core “brain” of a network, many proactive companies create a Life Cycle Plan so they can replace aging systems before failure and budget appropriately. A graceful replacement is far less costly than recovering from a disaster situation. Workstations and laptops usually have a 5-7 year life cycle. If one of these core systems go down, you don’t want to wait for it to ship and then for all of your data to be reloaded, while you are down.
- Next let’s look at Security. Many organizations in Healthcare, Financial and Government sectors, as well as those that process credit cards, fall under some type of Compliance requirement; HIPAA, PCI, ITAR, FISMA, NISPOM and Sarbanes-Oxley just to name a few. Making sure you have a good firewall with restrictions, strong antivirus and are deploying all of the latest security software patches is a core element to these regulations. Most compliance regulations also require a business continuity plan. What do you do when a failure occurs? A strong Life Cycle Plan is a foundation from which to build your business continuity plan and demonstrates that your company is minimizing the risk of failure and business disruption by regular replacements. Operating systems get retired by Microsoft every 7-12 years depending on the OS. Once an OS has been retired, it cannot receive its security patches and is extremely vulnerable to virus and malware.. The most recent example of this is the April 2014 XP retirement. This year will be Windows Server 2003 in July. Many older systems will not be able to handle the capacity of the larger upgraded operating systems and will need to go on newer hardware. Planning for that eventuality now saves time and money later and is easier to budget against. Having an IT Security Professional perform a Vulnerability Scan will give you a “snapshot” of where your business network stands and will identify aging hardware and software.
- Lastly we will look at Features and Costs. As technology grows and changes, older platforms are being left behind. We just discussed the XP and Server 2003 issues. But did you also know that older equipment can also have incompatibilities with newer software programs and specialty software packages that are unique to your business. Technology is getting better and faster every year. With a proper replacement and Life Cycle plan, your business will be able to budget for these events and also be able to take advantage of new innovative efficiencies in newer equipment and newer software. After all we all want better stronger faster. A perfect example of this is virtualization. Please see our Virtualization Blog.
Here are some tips to create your own IT Life Cycle Plan.
- Compile an accurate list of all of the hardware and software running on your network – list year bought and version of software
- Identify Key programs and assets
- Identify systems that are critical to your day to day operations
- By using a 3-4 year lifespan, design a replacement schedule for these critical systems for the next 10 years
- Assign dollar values to that plan and present them in your budget
- Track all software end of life dates and integrate those into your replacement plan and budget
There are many points of view on Technology Lifecycle planning. The important thing to remember is that it is never a good idea to let your technology manage itself; setting, forgetting and then waiting until something fails is an invitation for disaster. If you are unsure of where you stand, please contact F1 Solutions today for more information