Do I need to update the company server every year?

My head of IT insists we should update our servers every year. I think this seems excessive and an unnecessary expense. Is he right or could we wait another 12 months before updating them again?


A. Mark Tennant of Microsoft UK writes:

There really shouldn’t be a need to update the servers on an annual basis if the company has made the right choices in the first place. When starting out, the business should put in place an IT infrastructure, including servers, that meets its basic needs. Extra capacity needed as the business grows can, in most cases, be provided by applications and hardware that simply bolt-on to the existing systems, rather than with a considerable investment in a brand new server.

Bear in mind that IT vendors issue new servers every two or three years and that updates improving the server’s capabilities will be regularly available for download. The IT department should be accessing these as a matter of routine to ensure the business gets the most out of its existing infrastructure.

By all means, investigate new technology as and when it becomes available, but there’s no need to write your head of IT a blank cheque each time they ask. It can be tempting to shy away from too much involvement with the unnecessary complexities of the business’s IT networks – work best left to the in-house experts. However, being able to make a decision on whether to invest in IT doesn’t necessarily require technological expertise. The decision to shell out simply calls for a carefully considered assessment of how exactly the expenditure will improve the performance of your business.

There may be times in a company’s progress when it becomes obvious that it has outgrown its existing IT systems, and a revamp is called for. No business should be losing customers, or missing opportunities due to inadequate or unreliable technology. Bolstering the security of your systems may also be a reason for investment.

IT, however, will be just one of many needs faced by the business and should be weighed up against other investment demands. The strength of the business case is paramount, and it is the IT manager that should be asked to make it. If the IT manager believes expenditure is needed, it is he/she that should be asked to argue the case. Business owners and IT staff can then work together to address any problem areas.

Don’t be afraid to seek advice from your local IT partner or reseller – they not only offer consultancy on the technology needs of your business, they can also help you to get the most out of existing technology.

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