In these days of tightened budgets, IT admins are always looking to stretch their limited dollars. Frequently, that means extending the traditional data-center hardware lifecycle from three years to four or five years. But five-year-old servers, hard drives, and network adapters can actually hinder, rather than help, your bottom line.

Why Outdated Infrastructure Can’t Keep Up

The modern business environment is changing rapidly. Mobile apps, the Internet of Things (IoT), and global commerce all contribute to massive quantities of data that need to be ingested, stored, processed, and analyzed for new opportunities and new ways of interacting with customers. Unfortunately, four- or five-year-old servers, drives, and networking components might not be able to support those needs because they are often too slow and inflexible for modern data centers.

For example, older infrastructure can make it hard for IT to scale quickly without over-provisioning. Every time admins want to roll out servers for a new initiative, they need to dedicate lots of physical servers and hard drives to accommodate peak activity levels. But that leads to hardware sitting around unused much of the time. Even if the servers are virtualized, older servers can’t support nearly as many virtual machines as newer, more efficient ones.

Outdated infrastructure also makes it hard for IT to manage and secure resources, because the infrastructure itself lacks modern security technologies. And finally, outdated infrastructure costs more to maintain because the devices require more frequent updates and patches and are more likely to fail than newer, more robust devices. That can lead to higher operational expenditure (OpEx).

Modern Infrastructure Is a Good Investment

By updating three basic categories of infrastructure—servers, storage, and networking—modern companies can meet changing business needs with agility, while also increasing performance and efficiency, with a lower total cost of ownership (TCO).

Servers

Older servers are less efficient than models built on newer processors, which results in hidden costs across several areas. For instance, older servers require more power and cooling. Demanding workloads require greater numbers of servers working longer hours, compared to newer, more efficient models. And for data centers that rely on virtualization, older servers support a lower density of VMs than modern ones.

In addition to energy efficiency, modern servers often include new technologies that enhance performance for modern workloads. For example, servers built on latest-generation Intel Xeon processors have built-in capabilities to improve performance and security of virtualization platforms from VMware, OpenStack, and Microsoft. They also offer greater performance for modern analytical workloads, like real-time, in-memory data processing.

Storage

Modern businesses need to optimize storage to accommodate massive volumes of data from IoT and from big-data initiatives. They need to access and process all of that data quickly in order to perform complex analytics.

Many businesses are still using large numbers of hard-disk drives, or HDDs, because they have a lower up-front cost. But solid-state drives, or SSDs, provide a better long-term value, because they feature the performance and endurance required to meet the needs of the modern data center.

Recent-generation SSDs reduce power and cooling needs, take up far less space, and provide much faster data access for time-critical workloads like analytics. As with servers, the combined performance and efficiency gains help reduce TCO while enabling new initiatives that might not be possible with slower storage media.

Network

Network demands are high in the age of digital transformation and IoT. Companies need large bandwidth and low latency to improve performance today and to begin transitioning the data center to next-generation architectures, like software-defined infrastructure (SDI).

Modern network adapters have greater bandwidth and include other efficiencies to increase performance for time-critical tasks, such as analytics. If you have deployed servers built on Intel processors, Intel Ethernet Adapters match up well, because they are optimized for Intel Xeon processors, and they include features that improve performance in virtualized servers.

Summary

It’s important to consider the full picture when measuring costs for replacing infrastructure. Keeping older hardware around for an extra year or two might seem like an effective cost-saving measure until those so-called savings are weighed against the additional power costs, inefficiencies, performance gaps, and lost business opportunities compared to using modern infrastructure.

In contrast, newer servers, storage, and networking components can reduce your OpEx through reduced power consumption, shorter analytical processing times, improved support for VMs, and greater agility to meet your always-changing business needs.

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