Home Insight How to know when to upgrade your in-office servers

When you are operating a growing company it's really understandable that your focus would be on critical business operations, and you might neglect IT until it becomes a problem. But this can be a dangerous practise, since your IT system is most likely to become a problem when you try to expand or launch new applications that is isn't equipped for.

It's better to make sure you're continually advancing your digital transformation strategy BEFORE your IT system stifles your company's growth. 

[Read colocation or cloud?  Your options when upgrading from in-office servers]

When should you upgrade your in-office servers?

Keep an eye out for warning signs and other tip-offs for when to upgrade your IT system. Launching your digital transformation strategy ahead of time will let you side-step some serious difficulties. We've helped a lot of companies migrate from in-house to a data centre, and we've used that experience to list the four most common reasons an existing computer system becomes unsuitable.

Problem 1: Slow and unreliable connection speeds

Your office’s connection speeds will be impacting every part of your business. Wrestling with slow connection speeds will be frustrating for employees and lower their productivity, and this problem is even worse when you have staff working from home and connecting remotely.

Even if your office connectivity is currently up to the task of keeping your team connected, the cables can only carry a certain amount of data at any one time, so this will slow down as you add more people to your team. That is unavoidable without upgrading.

How to know it’s time to upgrade

Installing new connections or moving your servers to a better-connected environment will take a significant amount of time, potentially several months, so you need to upgrade before your computer system becomes unusable.

The most obvious thing to watch out for is when loading times start to slow down. As soon as your connectivity is showing signs of being at capacity, it’s time to upgrade to make sure you can continue developing your business.

Additionally, be aware that if you take on any new projects that require a lot of data transference, this will slow down the connection speeds for the rest of the company, so you will need to upgrade before beginning that work.

Problem 2: Flawed security

Storing your servers in your office means you’re storing your data in your office, and you need to keep your data secure. If you don’t have a very secure computer system, you run the risk of losing out on business with companies or organisations who prioritise security. And very few companies can afford a cyber attacker breaching their data base.

To have robust security in place around your in-office server room requires:

  • Locked doors for your office and server room.
  • Everyone coming into your office being checked and put through a sign in/sign out process.
  • 24/7/365 on-site security.
  • A comprehensive suite of cyber security in place.

How to know it’s time to upgrade

Implementing all of these will take time and can be very expensive to do, so if you’re committed to keeping your on-site system you need to start upgrading its security ASAP because you don’t know when the next contract requiring robust security will appear.

There are no early warning signs for this, unfortunately, if your IT system isn’t very secure you won’t be able to take on projects that require a high level of security, and you’ll be at increased risk. But if you’re operating with an insecure IT system, keep an eye on any new data security legislation that pops up; GDPR forced a lot of companies to overhaul how they stored their data.

Problem 3: A frustrating lack of reliability

The digital offerings of businesses are only getting more important over time. Online ordering/booking, communicating online, using applications or platforms, and even just having a website up all require people to be able to connect to a company’s IT system. When you combine that with everything your staff need to access, it becomes very clear that no business can afford unexpected system downtime.

If your IT system is unable to keep up with the demand put on it, and you are regularly experiencing downtime, this is going to seriously stifle your company’s growth. It will damage your reputation and cost you an incalculable amount in lost productivity and business.

How to know it’s time to upgrade

To ensure your servers don’t overheat, experience power failure, or lose connection to the internet, you need equipment to increase your resilience. Installing this equipment in-office is expensive and won’t be a quick process, it will also take time to move the servers to an environment with this infrastructure in place.

You should be making this upgrade to resiliency straight away. If you didn’t need the data and applications hosted on your servers then you wouldn’t host them, so you cannot afford downtime. This is particularly urgent, however, if you’re hosting business-critical or client-facing applications that need to be operational at all times.

Problem 4: Not enough office space

Having your servers physically in your office takes up space, especially if you’ve installed the equipment I previously mentioned. The problem of space is only going to get worse if social distancing in the office becomes an expected part of working life.

If you run out of space in your office for desks, you’ll be forced to either introduce a hiring-freeze or make the expensive decision to move to another office. And with office space at a premium (especially in cities) do you want to pay extra rent for the space your servers take up? Alternatively, you could upgrade your IT system to host it somewhere other than your office.

How to know it’s time to upgrade

You will need to free up space before you have to stick a desk on the roof, so this one is simple: when you start running out of room in the office you need to begin planning on dealing with that. However, if you’re moving offices anyway, that is a very good opportunity to reflect on the space your servers are taking up, and to decide if you want to move them to the new office with you, or move them somewhere else.

What upgrades should you make?

There are things you can do to solve these four problems while keeping your servers in your office:

  • Install a new leased line
  • Hire 24/7/365 security 
  • Deploy cooling, power, and network connection resiliency equipment
  • Move to a larger office

But these are all expensive decisions, and will be time intensive for your IT team and/or the whole company.

However, upgrading your IT system away from your in-office setup can solve all of these problems in one fell swoop, and could also save you money.

Hosting your system elsewhere has two main options: colocation or cloud:

Colocation is the act of physically moving your servers to be hosted inside a data centre, benefiting from the sophisticated redundancies and security in place at these facilities.

Cloud is uploading all of your data and applications to servers hosted by your cloud provider. This will also be in a data centre, but you have less responsibility and control with cloud.

So when you are coming across one of these IT problems, consider your long term strategy and look into the option of moving your system to a data centre. With one solution you could stop these issues coming up ever again.

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