They always say there are two things that are certain in life, death and taxes. However, if you ask an IT manager they would probably argue there is a third – the constant need for more resources. Those brand new machines you bought last year? It is already out of drive space. That speedy web server that had more memory than you thought you’d ever use? It is out of memory and crashing every day. No matter how “big” you buy a piece of equipment, it seems that before that new system smell wears off, you are hearing from your end users that they need “more, more, more”! The good news is that you don’t have to break the bank trying to satisfy the chant for “more, more, more”, you can instead upgrade what you already have.
Today, when you buy a system, it is much like buying a vehicle. Each vehicle has a base model and several styles within that model. Those styles are simply extras that are added onto the base package. Servers are pretty much the same. When you purchase a server they come with the configuration you ordered – but that doesn’t mean you can’t upgrade to the next “model” with a few simple swaps of key components. Many times it is far cheaper to upgrade a server than it is to go out and buy a totally new system. After all, you already have a majority of the components there.
Server upgrades are far more common today than they were a decade ago. This is thanks to technology advances that have in some senses slowed down when it comes to the base hardware. We are no longer seeing huge jumps in processor speeds, but rather, we are seeing more processor cores on the same chip. Chipsets and memory bus speeds are changing dramatically, but memory is becoming more dense.
Manufacturers of servers are also becoming smarter. They had realized it was far more cost-efficient to build from a common server base and then make parts upgradeable and easily replaceable. This not only lowers the cost for them to produce, but it also gives them a continuous revenue cycle. They are no longer just selling you the machine; they are also selling you the service and upgrade contracts to go along with it.
Another trend behind server upgrades is the ongoing quest to make data centers green. It’s no longer possible to keep adding servers without thinking about the consequences of doing so. We know that the initial cost of the server is only a small portion of the total operating cost of the system over its life cycle. There is heating, cooling, personnel, maintenance and other costs that must also be factored in. Energy costs alone may exceed the initial cost of the server in some areas. By upgrading existing servers, businesses don’t need to continually expand server farms – they can squeeze more processing power into what they already have.
Whether you have a Sun server or an IBM server, server upgrades are a great way to keep IT budgets under control. You can deliver the processing power needed by your customers without having to continually expand your IT footprint. Talk about doing more with less – or at least doing more with what you already have!