Dealing with aging servers is a nightmare for any data center manager. The changes in hardware technology and the increasing demand in computing power puts the average lifespan of a production server to a maximum of three years. Upgrading the infrastructure is a significant cost to data centers and it is imperative that wise choices are made during this activity. These are the following options that can be considered for re-using or recycling servers.
- Virtualization: Most IT managers will agree that aging servers cannot be re-used again for production tasks. However, instead of disposing them, one good alternative is to consider virtualization and use the servers for other non-critical tasks, such as development and testing. The advantage of virtualization is that the computing capacity of the old server can increase whereas the drawback is that if your server is really outdated, then some of the newer virtualization features may not apply and it may not be possible to visualize really old servers.
- Resell: Many data center managers have now started negotiating resell contracts with the hardware vendors at the time of purchase, so that it becomes easier to resell the old servers. Even without a contract in place, you can resell to a system reseller in the gray market so that your server is put to good use and you get some cost advantages.
- Donate: You can earn some good karma for yourself and your data center by donating old server s to charity organizations, schools, or other learning and development centers where they can be utilized towards a good cause.
- Discard: The last option that you could consider is to discard your infrastructure. What this means is that you dispose it off as scrap and as a result cause a great deal of danger to the environment. Many organizations today are watchful of their activities in this regard, and are even monitoring their EDE (Electronics Disposal Efficiency) ratio. This ratio measures the “responsible” disposal of electronic waste, with 1.0 indicating that all equipment was disposed responsibly and 0.0 indicating that all of it was disposed badly. Another innovation in this area is the creation of ‘bio-degradable’ servers. Even though it seems far-fetched now, this could very well be a reality in the future. In a recent survey, 85% of the respondents indicated that they would invest in a bio-degradable server.
No matter what choice you take, it is clear that hardware innovations are only going to increase, and dealing with aging servers is an issue that will become more prominent in the future.