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Time To Update Your Servers? A Helpful List.

Use this Server Refresh Checklist and Keep Your Operations Running Smoothly

IT servers and other rack-mounted equipment may be new today, but obsolete tomorrow. In fact, enterprise technology churn comes up quickly for a lot of data center managers. Waiting too long to replace or update servers can result in lost manufacturer support, putting your core business functions at risk.

A server refresh can be a big, expensive project, but it presents a tremendous opportunity to improve your IT capabilities and stay ahead of the curve. New server equipment helps you remain competitive and positions you for future data growth, innovative technologies, and demanding workloads that require systems integration. Doing it right—on time and on budget—is critical.

Ensure a Smooth Transition

When you do decide to update your servers, it’s important to develop a solid plan and process to ensure a smooth transition and clean project execution. Here is a quick checklist of important aspects that should be considered when conducting a server refresh cycle:

    1. Create a schedule and timeline for your data center refresh, taking into consideration the following factors:
      • Timelines:
        • Start date of the refresh
        • Time/dates for decommissioning old hardware
        • Time/dates for installing new hardware
        • Time/dates for configuring and testing new hardware
      • Resources:
        • List all staff that will be active in the project
        • Detail each person’s role and responsibilities for each stage of the project
        • List all staff that will adjacently support the project
        • Determine if more staff is needed for the project
      • Downtime:
        • How long will critical systems be down during the refresh?
        • Which backups are available during this time?
      • Contingency Plans:
        • List any possible delays, interruptions, and unexpected problems that should be anticipated
        • Detail what will happen if those problems occur, to keep the project on track
      • External Support:
        • Does the new hardware supplier provide onsite or remote configuration support? Provide those details to all internal stakeholders.
        • Make sure any external vendors or IT support teams who will be used to help with the physical install or configuration are onboard and available for the timelines needed
        • Notify security in advance of people that will be accessing the project site to make coming onsite smooth and secure
      • Communication:
        • Lay out each step to come, and communicate early and often with each stakeholder, both internal and external
    2. Evaluate and Outline Operational Capabilities and Resources:
      • Verify that network bandwidth is sufficient. Make adjustments if and when necessary.
      • Outline and research regulatory requirements or changes, if any, that need to be considered for the project
      • Verify that infrastructure, power, and connectivity resources are adequate
      • List and prepare for any security and compliance demands
      • Compare your proposed network to your business requirements (operating systems, amounts of memory and storage required). Note any gaps and lay out the steps required to bridge them as necessary.
      • Ensure this upgrade will support your needs in both the short and medium term. If not, re-evaluate the project as server refreshes can be disruptive—doing it now to support the next few years instead of just a few months or a year can save time and money.
      • List all customized and off-the-shelf software in inventory
      • Map out the physical location and floor space for the new hardware. Ensure adequate power and connectivity in that space.
      • Take inventory of racks, cable, PDUs, and other ancillary equipment needed to bring the new hardware online. Add/purchase additional equipment as necessary.
    1. Train Staff
      • Schedule appropriate training for all relevant staff
      • Ensure they have a strong grasp of any new applications and products
    2. Decommissioning Legacy Systems:
      • Bring any redundant systems that are being used as temporary backup online
    3. Plan for Physical Handling of Servers:
      • Review loading/unloading, unboxing, and installation protocols for new equipment
      • Note elevators, floor gaps, restricted headspace, and other data center characteristics requiring specialized motorized assistance
      • Have ServerLIFT data center lifts on site for all transportation and installation needs (certainly for servers weighing over 50 pounds / 22.7 kg)
    4. Configure the New Hardware:
      • If your server configuration is not completed for you, do you have a vendor or IT support team to do it?
      • Install your new operating systems and applications
    5. Determine Appropriate Parameters for Initial Testing
      • Test functionality
      • Make the testing period as long as you need to ensure everything is working properly
    6. Release New Systems
      • Do so in order from least critical to most critical
      Schedule/plan your next upgrade cycle

      • Keep the materials you created from this checklist someplace safe and organized for your next refresh
      • Note any updates to your network and equipment, plus any licenses and warranties that either expired or you purchased/renewed
      • Update your networking maps, infrastructure, and any training materials

All Systems Go: How to Update Servers Properly

Keep safety at the forefront during the entire process. An emphasis on safety reduces the risk of downtime, injury, and damaged equipment. Take your time and be precise. It’s worth taking the time to do it right. For more information on how ServerLIFT can assist with your upcoming server refresh project, contact us.

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