A little clever upgrading goes a long way

A little clever upgrading goes a long way

The standard way is wasteful

The standard way of doing anything on your network these days seems to be to throw away and replace every time requirements or capabilities within the company change.  I think most of us in the industry have seen the situation where new projects begin with a set of brand new equipment, and end of projects see perfectly good, even unused equipment been disposed of.  For a large business this may make some sort of sense, the asset management been easier if the multiple projects on going at any time have their own ring fenced resource, but the average company is not large; it is a small company.  99.3% of private companies are small businesses.


More productivity without waste

I believe that you can do better than following the example of big business, better than wasting time and money, which proportionately is more valuable to small companies like us; that better use can be made of existing resource.  I have found that once I have a chance to understand how a business is working, how it is using its technology, and what it needs to achieve, it is possible to get more productivity without replacing everything.


Client struggling with performance

For example, I helped a client recently that had a fairly common problem.  They had, on their network, a database server which held their most valuable data, and dealt with internet based customer searches.  It also managed replicating changes to that data between the database servers spread across the network.  It was not a new server, although it had been a very high specification unit when originally purchased, and was starting to struggle as the workload grew.  They clearly needed a new one.


Poor reliability

At the same time the email system was becoming unreliable.  The software they were using imposed a maximum size on the mail store, and since the business had been going a few years, and had steadily increased staff numbers, this limit was regularly been hit.  To get round this, old mail was archived off, which created additional work, and more data to keep track of.  No point in having information in an archive, if you can’t find it later when you need to reference it.  Obviously the mail server needed to be replaced as well.


Complete replacement unaffordable

The standard solution would be to buy two new servers, of the correct specification for these two operations, and junk the old ones.  However there was no way the business could afford two servers; a high powered database server would be the largest single purchase the company had made that year.


Careful review

I spent some time with the company, assessing how the network, and the various servers were setup, how they were used, and just what functionality the staff and their customers required.


A better solution

The solution I designed for them was to only purchase a single server, the new database server, as that had a customer facing function, and was therefore paramount.  Once this machine had the data safely on-board, the old database sever could be removed, and rebuilt as a mail server.  It was more than powerful enough, with lots of high speed disk space.  A new version of the mail server software was used which did not have any limits on the mail store.


Make better use

The last thing I did was to put as much high speed memory as possible in the old mail server, install the database they used, and had it take over the task of replicating the data, thus reducing the workload on their new server, and so extending it’s useful life.


Find the right use

The oldest server in this setup is ten years old, but it can support more memory than is standard even today, and has a multi core processor, so there is plenty of computing power available, plus it is doing a job that supports the more important functions of the business.  It doesn’t need instantaneous response, it just needs to get the work it’s assigned done, in the time available.


Unlock spare power

Too many older machines are thrown away, because they must be useless; they’re old.  But you just need to utilise them appropriately.  There is masses of unused computer power lurking in most businesses.  Let’s get it working, and earning its keep.  You paid for it after all.