I need to upgrade my old or existing ICT equipment
Technology moves fast. This means that at some point, your ICT equipment will no longer meet the needs of your organisation.
It could be that your organisation has changed and outgrown your existing ICT infrastructure, your equipment has become too slow, buggy and insecure, or the technology you use has become outdated. Whatever the reason, old ICT equipment can slow your organisation down, make it harder for your people to properly perform their day-to-day roles, and increase your exposure to data breaches and cyberattack.
There are several challenges that small business owners, charities and ICT professionals within larger organisations face when it becomes time to think about upgrading or replacing hardware. The first is how this can be done in the least disruptive way, in terms of both cost and operations. If you have an extensive ICT infrastructure, upgrading it can cost time and money. Even in smaller organisations, the return must justify the investment. Replacing your equipment can also be painful. There are usually myriad issues to sort out to keep disruption to a minimum. You might be left wondering if it’s worth it and keep persevering with your existing hardware until it finally breaks.
You might also be tied to a legacy vendor which is no longer meeting your organisation’s requirements and need to research the market for solutions which better meet your immediate – and future – needs. Unfortunately, hardware can’t be totally decoupled from the software, applications and services that run upon it. For example, a storage array underpinning a key business service with high availability requirements that have necessitated a dual site delivery will prove particularly challenging to remove when it’s out of date, as it may mandate changes to the business system itself. With ageing legacy hardware usually being buggier and less secure, it’s sometimes a more straightforward – but not advisable – solution to accept it, sign off the risk and add it to your risk register.
Whatever your reasons, there are many scenarios where upgrading or replacing your hardware will solve a host of issues and deliver real return on your investment if you can plan how you will get past the challenges. So, knowing what you are looking to achieve when upgrading your legacy equipment, and building a strong business case around these aims is the best place to start.
Things to consider when upgrading old ICT equipment
Creating a strategy and a timeline for your upgrade programme will help to identify many of the issues you are looking to fix, so you can determine the best way of addressing them. Prioritising the quick wins will not only deliver the best results in the short-term but will also build the foundations you need on which to create solutions to some of the longer-term issues your organisation has.
Your plan will also need to include the more difficult replacements, as these need more time to plan and execute. If not scheduled, these could end up with no priority, no budget and no one looking at how to get past the roadblocks. Shopping around is also vital, in terms of both cost and in accessing products which address your issues better.
However, many organisations will go with the same vendor, rather than shopping around, simply because they have a long-term relationship or ‘have always done it this way’. This is the wrong approach. Whenever you are looking to invest in new technology, you should always identify what features and functionality you need before selecting a solution, rather than replacing like-for-like.
Legacy vendors tend to be more expensive than new wave vendors, and don’t always offer a better product or better support.
It’s also essential to get the right balance between ‘sweating’ your assets to maximise the value of your investment and replacing them when necessary to ease your compliance burden. Appropriate end of life planning is required to prevent a build-up of legacy hardware that becomes commercially impossible to replace.
If you are investing in new hardware, make sure it doesn’t contain old technology inside, such as storage using legacy spinning disk hard drives, rather than solid state drives or flash storage arrays. However, on the other side of that coin, adding newer technology to older machines may help extend their service life and address some of the issues you are seeking to resolve.
But, if you are planning on upgrading equipment in this way rather than replacing, any decisions you make should be commercially viable. If the cost of upgrading hardware is more than half the cost of buying new, it may make better financial sense to replace it instead.
The support you receive from the vendor should also be considered. You should be working with vendors that provide proactive, rather than reactive, support and offer solutions that actively detect and prevent potential faults. Finally, opt for solutions that are intuitive and easy to use. Legacy ICT hardware tends to require highly skilled technical staff to manage it. For convenience, your organisation should be looking at purchasing solutions that work out of the box, rather than ones which require a deep level of technical expertise. Vendors should support this by providing intelligent platforms that “call home” when needed with built-in remote support.
When should I upgrade my organisation’s ICT?
There is never an ideal time to upgrade or replace your organisation’s technology. Instead, it should be part of an ongoing programme of investment to ensure your technology keeps pace with the changing demands of the organisation.
That might be because you are looking to achieve more with your resources, comply with new regulations, boost your agility and responsiveness, or reduce operating expenses.
Buying new infrastructure equipment tends to be driven by one of three challenges – capacity, performance and end of service life. Capacity and performance can be determined only by users complaining or effective monitoring, and you really want to establish an upgrade programme that’s driven by monitoring rather than complaints. Most vendors will retire their equipment after between five and seven years. So, you should plan to replace after five years, at most, from a budget perspective. Replacing some equipment can take around 12 months, so your replacement project would need to be in place 12 months prior to the five-year cut-off point.
The ‘lower spec’ the product you buy, the more likely you are to have to replace it early due to poor performance, so don’t only take a ‘lowest cost wins’ approach to infrastructure.
If you are looking to introduce new software or applications, or move even more of your ICT to the cloud, then older technology might not be up to the job. If this is the case, you need a plan in place to identify what you need to do to bring about the results you are looking for. As a rule, any solutions you are looking to invest in should be policy-driven, cloud-enabled and managed, as this will help futureproof your network and make rolling out further changes more straightforward.
Any technology should be AI-assisted and updated automatically, and remotely supported, so you can receive all the virtual support you need from the vendor.
If it’s cloud-ready, this will support migrating to your cloud environment with an easy to see path. And, of course, any solutions should be secure to ensure you comply with all the relevant legislation and cybersecurity best practice.
Find out more
AMDH Services Ltd has a wealth of experience in ICT infrastructure design. As your trusted technology partner, we’ll work with you to deliver the best outcomes possible for your organisation. We base our advice on the whole technology marketplace, rather than the vendors we have previously sold. It’s about matching the solutions and features available with your requirements, budget and future aspirations. We can also provide you with the best technical expertise at the right price to enhance the overall value of your investment in our services. To find out more, get in touch for an informal chat and a free consultation.