August 10, 2016
In most companies, the server is the heart of their network and productivity. It is usually at the center of everything going on, and when it’s up and running at full speed, so are your employees. Consequently, when it is down, most activities come to a grinding halt.
Here are seven questions I ask to help decide whether or not the time is right for my customers to update your servers...
1. Is your server reliable?
When I talk with customers about their servers, often designing systems for them based on the workload on their network, I usually lead with HP ProLiant servers. We lead with HP servers because they are reliable, and they are reliable for a couple of important reasons. First, HP is a Tier 1 hardware manufacturer, and that means they pick the best of the best components for their boxes. In the case of ProLiant that means Intel processors and Samsung drives.
Second, HP rigorously tests these top-of-the-line components to make sure they work together. That’s important because once they build a server, they stick with the same components for the life of that server. If you need to replace a part, it will be with the exact same part that it was built with, not some updated component that hasn’t been tested. This is one way HP makes sure their tests remain true for their servers. Then they certify everything.
2. Is your server down for more than 24 hours?
With HP and Marco, you get fast response time and next-day parts. Many small and medium-sized businesses only have one server, so having it down for more than one business day is just too costly. In some cases, HP can diagnose your issue remotely. If, for example, you have a drive on the server that goes bad, HP will ship you a new one right away that you can hot swap. Once you plug it in the drive will automatically start rebuilding the array. They have put a lot of thought into minimizing downtime.
3. Are drivers driving you crazy?
One reason HP stays with the same components over the life of the server is so the drivers keep working consistently and reliably. When they say their drivers will work on their servers, you can bank on it. Often Intel will update drivers every three months, but before HP will green light a new driver, they will test it extensively. Sometimes, they will recommend staying with an old driver if it turns out to be more stable. When it comes to your drivers, at times it’s better to be careful than current.
4. How old is your server?
Heat is the enemy of the drives on your server, and over time that heat compromises the performance and reliability. Most guarantees for servers are around three years, so in the fourth and fifth years you are going to start seeing memory failures and slower access. In the future, with solid state drives rather than spinning disks, servers could last from seven to 10 years. Of course that’s only part of the solution. If developers keep building applications that demand more memory and faster performance, that will also effect how long servers last.
5. Are there fail-safes built into your server?
Sometimes prevention is better than a cure. HP builds fail-safes into its servers so they don’t go down. For example, they have lights that go from green to amber if the system detects potential problems with a drive. That gives you the opportunity to swap out the drive before it fails. In addition, HP builds redundant fans and power sources into the ProLiant servers, all with one idea in mind: keeping your server running all the time.
6. How is your server’s performance?
As we said, time and heat degrade the performance of your server. Add to that new, more demanding applications, and you are gradually going to see its speed decreasing. Because your server is the heart of your organization’s productivity, you likely won't keep it if it can’t keep up. With a few productivity numbers in your pocket, you can make a good case for the ROI on a new server without much difficulty.
7. Is your support in place?
Having good support for your servers is important when they are up and running, or down and crashing. Just as HP builds redundant components in its servers to keep them functioning, having a supporting partner who can fix your server quickly just makes sense. Marco is a preferred partner with HP, so our technicians are trained and HP certified. This also means we can get replacement parts faster than just about anyone.