January 7, 2020 by Siobhan Climer and Eric White
Hardware isn’t forever. Servers, switches, storage – it all eventually comes end-of-life. Traditionally, businesses have taken these infrastructure refreshes as a capital expenditure, upgrading elements of the data center in cycles. This minimizes the direct budget hit and, hopefully, ensures infrastructure remains relatively up to date.
Today, though, advancements in data center technology are fast-moving, and the options for IT leaders looking at an aging data center are more complex. New cooling technologies, new data center architectures, and new computing models pop up so frequently it can be hard to keep track.
Whether the business chooses to refresh legacy hardware or rethink the deployment of certain technologies in-house, upgrading the data center is, in fact, an opportunity. Instead of a planned headache, consider a data center upgrade a chance to rethink technology to help the business mitigate risk and grow.
Planning Key To Upgrading The Data Center
To minimize the risks inherent in a data center upgrade, it is important to perform an impact assessment and determine how to upgrade without incurring downtime. While some downtime may be inevitable, a well-formulated plan can help to minimize its impact.
Formulate – Create and document the plan for upgrading the data center. By mapping how systems will be impacted, and how users may be affected, IT staff can help ensure a smooth upgrade.
Communicate – TELL PEOPLE THE PLAN. Users (employees and clients), leadership, and IT staff must all understand what will be occurring, when, and for how long to minimize disruption to their activities. Communicating the plan to everyone is vital.
Mitigate – Business continuity planning is an oft-forgotten, yet essential element of upgrading infrastructure. Mitigate risk by ensuring redundancy and proper backup procedures. Data center upgrades are also an opportunity for malicious actors to gain access to your facilities. Take extra precautions to ensure your data center is secure.
Rethink Before You Refresh
Although IT leaders should be the first to acknowledge things are always changing, even we can get caught up in our everyday routine. Yet simply upgrading the data center without evaluating the investment is a recipe for disaster.
No matter what your gut tells you is the right move for the business, take the time to justify that decision by rethinking how your data center works, how its operations align to the business, and what other options may be available to you.
The answer may surprise you.
Oftentimes, continuing to invest in traditional hardware makes sense. Depending on where you are in your refresh cycle and what the operational goals are for the coming years, maintaining your current infrastructure may be best.
Other times, though, pausing to reflect on what your organization hopes to achieve and how technology facilitates those goals may illuminate the value of other options.
Data Center Architecture
For one, it may be traditional converged infrastructure (CI) is holding you back from scaling easily. Read more about different data center architectures – like hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI) and disaggregated hyperconverged infrastructure (dHCI) – and their benefits here and here.
Another possible outcome of a thoughtful infrastructure assessment is that the cloud may be a better deployment model for your organization. The cloud can reduce costs, improve efficiencies, and increase scalability – if deployed correctly. Read more about analyzing your cloud environment here.
SDWAN (Software-Defined WANs)
It could be the networking layer that offers the most room for advancement. SDWAN might just be the fastest growing networking technology as it simplifies network management and optimizes connections to cloud services. Read more about the benefits of SDWAN here.
Upgrading The Data Center: Make A Smart Investment
Whether your discovery process leads you to reengaging in your traditional data center upgrade process or offers new insights as to how you can optimize operations, it is vital you seize the opportunity to rethink your current data center operations and consider how you can remain competitive in an always-changing industry.
Find out more about upgrading the data center in our whitepaper,
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About The Author
Siobhan Climer, Science and Technology Writer for Mindsight, writes about technology trends in education, healthcare, and business. She writes extensively about cybersecurity, disaster recovery, cloud services, backups, data storage, network infrastructure, and the contact center. When she’s not writing tech, she’s reading and writing fantasy, gardening, and exploring the world with her twin daughters. Find her on twitter @techtalksio.