Home > Hardware refresh > The Hardware Refresh Cycle

The Hardware Refresh Cycle

Most mid to large-sized companies have some sort of program for hardware refreshes.  Different companies choose different criteria for determining which computers get replaced.  Some use function, some use age, some use Ouija boards.   My company uses age.  Desktops are replaced every three years, servers every five years.  I work in the server arena so in a good year, we replace 20% of the server inventory.  The problem that has arisen is that the past few years have not been good.  My replacement budget has been almost nil.  This year is a different story and quite a story it is.

It all started in June 2009.  I knew that server replacements would be funded in the coming fiscal year, which started in July.  Our plan was to continue down the same road and purchase rack mount servers.  We already knew which servers needed to be replaced and had all our paperwork ready to go.    What I wasn’t expecting was our uber-CIO to change direction on us.

He was contacted by a company that offered to perform a capacity analysis using VMWare’s Capacity Planner tool at no cost to us.  I’ve already been through one of these so I knew what the results were going to be.  Didn’t matter.   It took a while to get contracts signed, schedules aligned, and the like so the data gathering process didn’t start until October.

It was during this lull that we started contemplating moving to blade servers.    When we first looked at blade servers five years ago, the financials just didn’t work for us.   Now we are close to break even.  How can that be?  Blades are supposed to be less expensive.  Simple, we are the power company so energy is relatively inexpensive.   We have lots of data center floor space so that wasn’t a cost factor either.   Keep in mind, most blade systems require a lot of gear just to get started.  Not to pick on anyone, but take a look at an HP blade system.  The chassis with all the needed add-ons start north of $65K.  Add in the blades and you can see how it quickly adds up.   Anyway, it looked like this was the year we would make the switch to blades.

So which blade system to choose?  Do we go with our incumbent or do we look at other brands?  It’s not easy to answer.    My next post will delve into that epic saga.  I was thinking of calling it “Clash of the Titans”, but I would probably receive a takedown notice.

Categories: Hardware refresh

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