Investing in IT hardware is a big decision for most companies. They must strike a balance between budgetary constraints and their business needs as they provision the equipment needed to support their network and core services. That decision would be difficult enough if they only had to make it once.
Unfortunately, nothing lasts forever. Sooner or later, all of those investments will reach the end of their hardware lifecycle. Understanding how to manage that lifecycle can mean the difference between running a profitable business and watching IT costs spiral out of control.
What is Hardware Lifecycle?
Every piece of equipment has an expected hardware lifecycle, or the period of time when it will function effectively. Over time, components wear down and fail, causing a deterioration in performance at best and complete system failure at worst.
The typical hardware lifecycle for a network server is between three to five years. Enterprise-grade routers and other networking equipment tends to last around the same amount of time. Storage hardware lifecycles vary by medium, but the average hard disk drive (HDD) also begins to deteriorate after about five years (although they can last much longer in some cases).
5 Steps of Successful Lifecycle Management
Since most organizations tend to accumulate IT assets over time, it can be difficult to keep track of where every piece of hardware is in its lifecycle. However, managing and monitoring that equipment over time is essential for prolonging its effective lifecycle. With careful hardware lifecycle management, organizations can ensure that they’re extracting the maximum value from their IT investments.
The initial step in any hardware lifecycle is the purchase of the device itself. It’s important to consider more than price and performance, however. Purchases should take both the existing and future needs of an organization into account. It makes little sense to buy a cheap, underpowered server that’s “good enough” for today if more capacity will be needed before it reaches the end of its expected lifecycle. At the same time, organizations shouldn’t overestimate their growth potential. Buying hardware that meets capacity needs five years from now will be a waste of resources because most of that power will go unused until it’s time to replace it.
After hardware is procured, it needs to be installed and integrated with existing IT systems. This will typically be part of an on-premises data solution or within a colocation data center environment. The installation phase is important because a poorly optimized deployment could severely impact its performance and lifecycle. A server installed in a dusty, cluttered environment with poor air circulation, for example, will run hotter than normal and put more strain on its components, which will cause it to wear down faster. When new hardware is incorporated into a deployment, it not only needs to be documented for ongoing management, but consideration needs to be given to how the addition will impact other equipment. Some rearranging may be necessary to ensure optimal performance.
Perhaps the most important step in hardware lifecycle management, assets need to be carefully monitored and maintained over time. No equipment should ever be treated as a “set it and forget it” asset. Regular inspections need to be carried out to ensure that the hardware is operating properly and is not experiencing any depreciation in performance. A simple maintenance schedule can often spot minor issues before they compound into more serious problems. Simple, quick repairs can save the time and expense of having to provision new equipment. With today’s cutting edge asset management tools, predictive analytics can even identify when equipment is nearing the end of its useful lifecycle.
Hardware is only one part of the networking equation. All IT equipment requires software to manage its performance. Regular software upgrades do more than help protect networks from cybersecurity threats and add new features. They also address known issues with firmware to help equipment operate more efficiently. New software updates also reflect the latest knowledge about how to utilize hardware resources effectively, which translates into improved performance. Following a regular update schedule helps IT departments to get the most out of their hardware investments. Failing to keep pace with the latest updates leaves equipment vulnerable to potential security threats and leaves known issues unaddressed, which can significantly shorten hardware lifecycle.
Eventually, all hardware will reach the end of its useful lifecycle. Even well-maintained and regularly updated equipment will eventually break down or reach a point where the risk of failure becomes too great to ignore. If an organization has been managing its hardware effectively, the disposal step should never come as a surprise. Known issues and risks should be identified long before the device presents a risk to uptime or performance. Ideally, the procurement process should already be well underway before the time comes to dispose of an existing asset to ensure a smooth transition.
How to Optimize Your Hardware Lifecycle with Colocation Services
Managing hardware lifecycle effectively saves an organization money by eliminating unnecessary IT expenditures and ensuring that its network systems are running reliably. Well-managed hardware is less likely to experience unexpected failures, which contribute to costly downtime and impact data availability.
Colocating those assets in a secure and efficient data center environment staffed by expert remote hands technicians is one of the best ways for an organization to ensure that it’s getting the maximum value out of its hardware investments. Unlike many inefficient on-premises solutions, colocation data centers have the power and cooling infrastructure in place to ensure that IT deployments are operating in the ideal environment to prolong their hardware lifecycle.
Thanks to intelligent monitoring tools like vXchnge’s in\site platform, colocation customers can monitor every aspect of their infrastructure, tracking power utilization and even where it’s deployed within the facility or cabinet. If there are any issues that need to be addressed, the same platform can be used to issue maintenance tickets to remote hands personnel within the data center.
As the Marketing Manager for vXchnge, Kaylie handles the coordination and logistics of tradeshows and events. She is responsible for social media marketing and brand promotion through various outlets. She enjoys developing new ways and events to capture the attention of the vXchnge audience.
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