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Legacy whisperer: 4 ways to protect aging IT systems from disaster

May 15, 2019

Want to make an IT pro cry? Ask them about their most catastrophic system failure story. They all have one. Like any good story, it’ll surely involve drama, suspense, tears, finger-pointing, back-stabbing and, hopefully, resolution.
 
Not only do our IT experts have their own stories, but they’ve also heard ’em all from customers. Do you have legacy IT infrastructure? Here’s how to mitigate such risks and have happier stories to tell.
 
How to protect old IT systems                                                                                                                                                                               
1) Embrace cloud
Sure, it sounds obvious to leverage the cloud to avoid legacy system failure. But our pros on the front lines report that many organizations are “penny wise and pound foolish” when it comes to the cloud.
 
Truth be told, the cloud may very well present the easiest and most cost-effective way to avoid failures. It’s a good move for SMBs to take advantage of it, at least as a supplemental safety net. Why spend sizeable amounts of money on your own hardware—in hopes that it will work properly and won’t fail—when you can get things done quickly and securely in an on-demand environment?
 
Obviously every business is different, but the majority can win in the cloud. When our experts take calls on hardware failures, especially without a proper disaster recovery solution in place, they often conclude that the cloud could have circumvented the failure. If you’re an SMB and claim the cloud is too expensive, ask yourself this—how much is your data worth?
 
2) Think beyond date of deployment
Date of deployment is just one aspect when considering the sustainability of IT infrastructure. One of our first questions for customers is about maintenance and documentation of updates. Think of the old car or truck that your grandfather handled with meticulous care, preventing issues before they happened—there’s a reason for its longevity.
 
For legacy infrastructure, the health of the system is as important as its age. Is it being updated and maintained regularly? Keeping software updated is just as important as keeping hardware updated, so checking both regularly is recommended to avoid a failure.
 
3) Consider warranties
If you’re on a 5-year warranty and have experienced no issues, don’t push it another 5 years. Maybe let it go another year or so before worrying about failures. However, be sure to always have some redundancy built in—in case the server were to go down. For reference, Ingram Micro offers 1-, 3- and 5-year warranties.
 
4) Control downtime
Maintain and gain insight into your infrastructure before a catastrophic failure occurs. If you take a server down for an hour on your terms for an update, it’s better than downtime that you can’t control. Do the work up front to avoid the issue. It’s like the robbery victim who only installs a security system after the break-in. The upfront investment is nothing compared to the loss.
 

Want more IT infrastructure talk? Read: Mothercluster! 4 challenges of hyperconvergence.