As an organisation grows, it often becomes necessary and practical to centralise data storage on servers. This can improve security and make mission critical information available to all stakeholders. There are, however, some important factors to weigh before making the purchase.
The price of new computer hardware — especially higher-end hardware — leaves many business owners feeling a bit dizzy. Of course, not every company needs a $20,000 Cisco UCS C240 with a 5TB hard drive and 100 GB of RAM. Start the process by setting a budget you can reasonably afford. If you lack the expertise, consult with an IT expert about what you need the hardware to do and get some baseline specs. With a budget and specs in hand, you’ll probably find a solution that meets your budgetary and computing needs.
The staggering rate of improvement in hardware means that upgradable equipment is a necessity. You should be able to upgrade your CPU to one with more cores. If your budget permits, slots to install additional CPUs will significantly extend the life of your hardware. Fortunately, upgrading memory and storage tends to be a simple process for contemporary servers.
3. Baseline Storage
There is no standard storage capacity in servers, which means you need to determine two critical things. How much storage do you need now? How much storage will you need in the future based on current growth rates? A three-year growth projection will probably suffice, given the 3-5 year replacement cycle for servers. Getting 25-35% more baseline storage than your current needs is a good rule of thumb when growth rates are uncertain.
4. Space Consumption
Your hardware needs a home in your office or building, which means a dedicated space for a rack, cabinet or tower case. If you’re installing for the first time, then you need to make sure you can accommodate a rack or cabinet up to 24” wide x 39” deep. Replacing or installing new servers just requires that there be enough space in the existing rack. If you switch form factors, such as going from the rack mounted to the blade, you’ll need to replace the rack with one built around the new form factor. Tower cases, which resemble oversized desktop computer towers, usually sit on the floor or a table.
Management falls into two broad areas: hardware and software. Any competent IT professional should be able to navigate the hardware management. The software is often brand-specific and proprietary, meaning it only works with the hardware from a specific company or vendor. Before sinking your money into new equipment, make sure that the management software will work with all the equipment. You should also consider a tech support service plan for the new equipment if you don’t have an IT professional on staff.
Within budgetary constraints and the physical limits of your workspace, your new server should meet or exceed all current needs regarding storage and management. Be mindful of the possibility of software incompatibility between new and existing hardware. If possible, select one that is upgradable to help you meet future needs.