A tech refresh is a chance for a business to evaluate the direction of its IT infrastructure and weigh the costs of trying something new or maintaining the status quo. Is the current environment something they want to move forward with? If so, for how long? If not, what other options are available that would better suit the needs of the organization?
One question that often comes with a technology refresh is, “how can I win the support of the CFO for this project?” To help you decipher what’s most important to your CFO, here are the five things to consider before an IT refresh.
1. Why do we need a tech refresh?
Tech refresh is a necessary exercise every IT department goes through every few years. Some IT components last longer than others (servers tend to have a shorter lifespan while network switch lifespans are a bit longer, for example), but at some point IT components naturally become outdated. In fact, according to 451 Research, more than 32% of enterprises were planning a major server and storage refresh in 2016. The important thing for CFOs to understand is that outdated or deteriorating technology can negatively affect not only the IT team, but the bottom line of the entire business as IT can be limited by old technology that may also be eating up valuable resources. Nothing lasts forever, after all.
2. What are the warning signs that a tech refresh is necessary?
A common indicator that a tech refresh is needed is a noticeable decrease in system performance and stability. This can lead to frustrated employees and it becomes more obvious that the current solution is simply not meeting the needs of the business. Most often, however, warning signs that a tech refresh is needed are hard to come by. That’s part of what makes outdated technology so dangerous: it can hurt your business with no warning at all. CIOs and CFOs alike have to take preemptive action to get out in front of these hidden problems before it’s too late.
3. Can consolidating my refresh cycles save time?
There is no defined amount of time a refresh cycle should or will last, as it depends on the details of the specific company. Growth rate, performance requirements, and physical limitations of the site can all influence the upgrade decision. With that said, traditional tech refreshes can be very time-consuming because there are so many vendors to deal with, new technology for the team to be trained on, and a slew of components that have to be brought into sync with one another. For many, refresh cycles can seem like a constant process because IT components don’t last the same amount of time – so your servers might need to be refreshed one year, then the next year your storage could use an upgrade too, and then your network switching needs to be updated, and before you know it the servers need to be refreshed again and it becomes a never-ending cycle of rinse, lather, repeat. Integrated approaches to the data center can lead to less equipment to overhaul and therefore less time spent refreshing.
4. How can I cut costs during an IT refresh?
The cost of a refresh is dependent on a few factors. First, it depends on how long the refresh process takes as time spent evaluating, vetting, and negotiating with vendors is all time spent not innovating, and ultimately not driving business goals, inside the data center. Second, you have to take into consideration the IT component(s) being refreshed and what they are being replaced with. For multiple components, multiple vendors and sales teams will often be needed, along with multiple price tags, and operational expenses such as power, cooling, and data center floor-space adding up. However, integrated solutions offer a single-vendor solution that may help companies cut costs by integrating or a portion, or in some cases, all, of a traditional IT infrastructure stack into a platform.
5. How can I simplify my IT infrastructure during an IT refresh?
One direction many businesses are moving in as a way to simplify the process of tech refresh is by investing in hyperconverged solutions. Hyperconverged infrastructure offers businesses a data-center-in-a-box option that can eliminate much of the time-consuming and complex aspects of tech refresh because it consolidates the functions of a traditional IT infrastructure stack – like servers, storage, network switching, WAN optimization, and inline deduplication – into a single solution that is managed by a single administrator. This means that not only are operational expenses reduced, but there is only one vendor to deal with and the never-ending rinse, lather, repeat cycle is broken because all of the traditional components are consolidated.
Although support for an IT refresh can be hard to garner, understanding what factors are most important to your CFO can help make the process easier. As hyperconverged infrastructure continues to gain momentum the case for an IT refresh will become even simpler to make. A leader in hyperconverged infrastructure, HPE SimpliVity can get your business on the path to simplicity and efficiency. Learn more about the basics of hyperconvergence in the Dummies Guide to Hyperconverged Infrastructure.