As has been widely publicized, Windows Server 2003 is joining the ranks of dinosaurs and dodo birds: Microsoft is discontinuing updates for it by July 2015. This is reason enough for you to upgrade your businesses’ server(s), but if you’re still on the fence you’ll quickly reconsider when you start to see some or all of the following symptoms in your server set:
If you’re experiencing one or more of these warning signs, it’s time to start planning your exit strategy. It’s only a matter of time before the big, bad crash occurs and you lose tons of money along with all of your hard work. Remember, a server upgrade is not a discretionary expense – it’s a requisite insurance policy.
According Paul Mitchell, not the hair guru but rather one of our top Strategic Technical Advisors at Dynamic Quest (he hates that joke, by the way), “the frequency of your server upgrades depends on the role your server plays in your business model and the criticality of that role.” He further explains that if your server functions as your company’s critical database then it should be updated much more often compared to servers merely hosting shared files for users in order to mitigate the risk to operations in the event of failure.
“Upgrades for servers typically mean hardware changes, like adding RAM or hard drives.” Mitchell says. “Software changes include new versions of applications or upgrading operating systems on the server to keep up with security and compatibility requirements.”
Your team should always be on the lookout for software upgrades and take advantage of them as soon as they become available. In fact, a good practice is to designate one or more members of the team to be specifically responsible for the task. Microsoft usually releases its upgrades on Tuesdays, earning the affectionately-coined nicknames “Patch Tuesday” and “Update Tuesday.”
The same is true when monitoring your server hardware performance. There are different monitoring tools to use depending on your service provider. One of our favorites at Dynamic Quest is the Dell Performance Analysis Collection Kit, or DPACK for short. This tool from Dell collects configuration and workload information from your server and compiles it into a report detailing CPU and RAM utilization to disk input and output – a very helpful report to help you make a more informed decision about upgrading and when you’d be a good candidate for it.
Remember, a slow server not only is a sign of future failure, it means slow business today. If your employees are regularly waiting for software and applications to catch up with them, that wait-time equates to lost productivity and a lower return on your operational investment. So avoid the tendency to penny-pinch on this one. Being a cheapskate around your server investment and upgrades compromises your company’s well-being and productivity, especially when the solution is known, relatively simple and readily available.
So the key point here is this: if your server does not provide you the functionality, speed and space that you need, it’s time for you to graduate to one that can. If you are curious about options, not sure if an upgrade is needed, want to learn more about the tools available, have questions about upgrades (or switching server operating systems) or you suspect your server may be on it’s way to tanking and need to figure out what the hit to the checkbook will be to remedy the situation, give us a shout.