The alert dinged on in my fridge, telling me I needed to replace my water filter. “I’ll bet they make us replace this twice as often as we should just to make more money,” I scoffed. Oh, I’ll get it replaced, but probably at a slower cadence than Samsung wants me to.
Many of you probably have the same reaction when your vendors approach you recommending an upgrade of your hardware. “But it still works just fine,” you might say to yourself, with all the healthy skepticism I reserve for my refrigerator water filter.
And I won’t get into the nuance of the unfairness of manufacturers end-of-life-ing products at times, but in the world of technology, time works a little differently. It moves a faster, change happens at a quicker rate, and it’s not quite as easy to sit on that seven-year-old SAN anymore without problems.
Sometimes software requirements change as well – did you know that Windows Server 2022 will require a physical TPM chipset in your server? Yeah, that might be a problem for you in a few years. Or if you’ve got a server from 2008, VMware’s latest versions may not be compatible. But let’s put that aside – maybe Windows Server 2016 is fine with you and you plan to ride it out as long as you can. Fine, but before you blithely switch off that replacement notification on the fridge that is your datacenter, consider these more insidious factors.
1. Hardware Wears Out and Fails
With age comes wear and tear, which I’m sharply reminded of in my own life as I get older. My personal fear of mortality aside, hardware degrades over time as well. Ever had a server humming alone just fine before you powered it down for routine maintenance and then it never came back on? Yep, that happens. The older hardware gets, the more likely it is to fail. (See the yellow line below.)
It may not fail all at once. Maybe you’re in there on a reasonably frequent basis replacing drives or parts, which brings me to my next concern…
2. You Spend More Time on It
Time is money. It’s an important part of your Total Cost of Ownership calculation and could be a major drain on your organization. If you’re spending more and more time babysitting your aging hardware – troubleshooting, replacing parts or if it just runs slower and drags everyone down – you’ve got a problem.
If you’re sitting in front of your gear praying to the storage gods on a regular basis or you are constantly having application performance issues because it can’t keep up, it’s time to re-evaluate.
3. You Spend More Money on It
Many manufacturers don’t want to take on supporting your old stuff. It’s a bad gamble. So, to discourage you from clinging to it, they might raise the prices of support in years four and five and beyond. Do the math. Is it worth it?
An extreme example we often see is phone systems. Maintaining that 20-year-old phone system can be quite expensive. Older hardware becomes unnecessarily specialized both in sourcing parts and finding someone who still knows how to work on it. Those old specialists command a high price and are going to eventually retire. As OEMs stop supporting old gear do you really want to scour the Internet trying to find anyone who has the part you need and hope that it works when it shows up?
So before you just keep on using that old gear, keep these things in mind and understand of the increased risks as your hardware ages.