Take advantage of server refresh to improve system efficiencies
Thursday, Dec 27th 2012

Most organizations traditionally replace their server equipment every five years, but refresh cycles are becoming shorter as technology improves and becomes more central to business processes. As companies decide whether to update their data centers in the new year, they may want to consider the possibilities a refresh offers for better controlling server room temperature or managing power use to improve facility efficiency, according to a recent TechTarget article.

A 2010 IDC white paper reported that 44 percent of server systems are five years or older, while 21 percent are four years old. These systems can become costly or ineffective to operate as business computing demands grow. The white paper listed potential issues that play into the decision to replace servers. These include the need to update or retire obsolete systems and the need to support increased or consolidated workloads. Additionally, businesses may need improved operating efficiencies in scalability, reliability or application deployment time, better cost control or better environmental control.

TechTarget's Stephen J. Bigelow explained that replacing servers may provide an opportunity to save energy by consolidating tasks onto fewer machines and by allowing facility managers to improve distribution of air by using server room environmental monitoring. He explained that any effort to reduce spending on power costs will be financially beneficial for the company. Such efficiency gains may even pay for the update by themselves, he noted.

"The move to fewer, smaller form factors may allow data center operators to redistribute the server hardware across available rack space," Bigelow wrote. "This can improve cooling air flow patterns and alleviate equipment 'hotspots.' This can lead to lower cooling costs, especially if you're deploying point-cooling devices and leveraging higher data center operating temperature recommendations …  In addition, eliminating hotspots can enhance system reliability, leading to lower downtime and service disruption."

The server refresh cycle can also offer an opportunity to install new remote monitors such as those offered by ITWatchDogs so that data center managers can improve their ability to track temperature or humidity changes and monitor power use. By looking at a server replacement as a chance to institute new tools to cut operational expenses (OpEx) rather than as a major capital spending project, businesses may find that undergoing such a change is financially justified and addresses growing computing needs.