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Companies I have worked for replace them every 3 years

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8 Answers 8

Never. We usually replace major servers every three or four years, but we then use the old servers for the less-important and/or less performance-critical applications.

We have lots of eight-to-ten year old servers, but we're not reliant on them.

I think we're going to just remove them as we virtualise, but physical hardware is still handy for things like fax servers.

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Virtualization is really making a way into companies. Exchanging many servers for few powerful is way easier, cheaper and more comfortable than a packed full server room. –  Manuel Ferreria Apr 30 '09 at 14:08

Never if we can avoid it. I work for the government. This means that we still have Pentium IIIs lying around. :-(

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Pentium 3 running Debain can make a nice little caching DNS server. We have two of them running here. –  AudioDan Jul 16 '09 at 15:14
up vote 2 down vote accepted

It is interesting to read the comparisons.

I guess there is no 1 answer as it depends on the size of the company, usage of servers, etc.

I have only worked in large companies where the servers are treated as assets that get devalued (and therefore replaced) every 3 years. Plus support costs increase after this time so it can actually be more economical to replace large servers after this period.

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We used to do that (since it was the length of the warantee), but we now get a 5 year warantee as standard so that we don't have to spend so much of our time migrating from server to server. I expect that virtualisation will begin to make this easier in future.

Most modern servers are good for at least a 5 year life in my experience. The warantee tends to be the limiting factor.... we clearly can't run anything mission critical on a server that is out of a support contract!

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Typically we replace Intel servers after 4 years, when the manufacturers warranty has expired. We want to limit the number of servers that are "out of warranty" and have to pay additional maintenance for.

Recently, we've invested in a number of vmware clusters. We've already migrated over 100 physical servers onto them and all new servers Intel will be vm (unless there is a HUGE reason why not).

This allows us to upgrade/replace the server nodes without downtime, at our convenience one at a time.

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Like Techboy our servers are assests that are devalued over 3 years at which point they are replaced.

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We lease all our server hardware, and have a 3-year cycle.

But many times the application team isn't in a position to do the migration to a new server when that 3-years is up, and they end up extending the lease.

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Extended warranties become more expensive throughout the lifecycle of hardware. Things like a SAN is worth the cost because it's a big hassle to replace a large SAN, but a server isn't as much. We've done costings on this it's always worth it (for us) to extend the warranty by 1 year at least before we deocommision a server (or virtualize it).
It might be riskier to replace some business critical servers than it is to keep them running - it's a valued judgement you need to make on a case-by-case basis.

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