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server refresh cycle

Contributor(s): Stan Gibilisco

The server refresh cycle is the length of time that normally passes between installations of new servers and related hardware in a data center. Traditionally, refresh cycles have averaged around five years, but they have accelerated during the last decade. Some businesses now work on a three-year replacement cycle.

Replacing servers and other critical hardware allows organizations to deploy updated equipment intended to improve reliability, enable new and anticipated capabilities, and save money in the long term. When contemplating a server replacement, business managers can ask themselves the following questions.

  • Does the replacement hardware offer new features and functionality?
  • Does the replacement hardware offer better processor power, memory, I/O (input/output) speed, and bus speed?
  • Will the hardware replacement result in improved system distribution and cooling?
  • Will the new hardware save enough power to recoup the investment before the next replacement becomes due?
  • Would leasing or renting new hardware prove more economical than buying it?

Memory constitutes a particularly crucial feature of servers in virtual environments, because VMs (virtual machines) are essentially disk images that reside in server memory. More memory is vital for higher levels of consolidation, and the reliability of that memory will impact the overall reliability of all the VMs on that server. Future capabilities may include support for new chipsets that can handle additional memory types, faster I/O, and higher bus speeds.

This was last updated in March 2013

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