If you have ever migrated a server to new hardware, you know that a lot of thought and preparation needs to go into the decision-making process. There can never be too much planning as you make your purchasing decisions, and you may even be moving to a different brand of server hardware or adding new hardware components to improve reliability. Whatever the case may be, our downloadable spreadsheet will provide tools to help simplify the evaluation process and make your decisions more informed.

Reasons to migrate
Servers are migrated to new hardware for many reasons. Their role and performance requirements generally offer the main criteria for how they are handled. Changes in your IT strategy can play a major part in what is currently implemented. Here are some reasons for migrating server hardware:

  • Current hardware reaching or exceeding retirement age
  • Performance problems or resource limitations
  • Internal change(s) in standards for server-class devices
  • Changes in the marketplace (e.g., HP/Compaq merger, Micron getting out of the market)
  • Good and bad experiences with certain vendors
  • Consolidation of servers or administration cost strategies

As you decide which new server will replace the current server, the number one thing you want to avoid is ending up with less functionality than the previous solution offered. That may sound simply in theory, but in practice it requires careful attention to detail and the ability to think things through before acting. Planning out the server roles, resource requirements, and overall configuration is critical in achieving the best solution.

Opportunity to change
Whenever you are implementing a new solution, you have an opportunity to change things for the better. Even if the role of the server in question is a linear replacement, you can still improve things that may not be configured to your liking. Implementing a new server can also allow you to develop your own best practices if you do not have a solid IT strategy that addresses new servers being brought into your infrastructure.

When implementing a replacement or new server, the following topics should assume a high priority, as they will dictate overall success in the project:

  • Build the solution around information security.
  • Define implementation parameters of cost, schedule, and performance.
  • Identify individuals in charge of the implementation.

Organizations with a solid IT strategy will be able to spend less time defining these topics and be more prepared to handle changing responsibilities.

Working with the spreadsheet
The server hardware comparison spreadsheet will allow you to compare up to six new servers against each other and against the existing server. In the spreadsheet, which is in Excel 2000 format and is arranged in an easy-to-use interface, each worksheet has a Sheet Purpose box that will provide an overview of how that particular sheet will be useful in your decision-making process. The seven worksheets are:

  • Server Models—Provides base information on the new server(s) and the existing server. Model information for all subsequent worksheets is populated from a single point of entry on this sheet, with the model and manufacturer of the compared server(s). This information is populated through the entire workbook for both the new server candidates and the existing server being replaced.
  • Server Role(s)—This sheet will detail how the current and replacement server will connect into the IT infrastructure. Information about basic networking, location, and backup strategy can be found here as well.
  • Storage—Storage information is focused on hard drive and controller information. You can compare information on disk interfaces, hot-plug options, and drive capacities on this sheet.
  • Features Compared—This sheet will compare the basic options of the server, including RAM, processor, and base rack size if offered.
  • Add-On Hardware—This sheet allows you to compare the servers based on which devices you may add to the server from the OEM.
  • Management—This sheet outlines the management software for each server and some base features offered by the software packages.
  • Defaults—The defaults worksheet contains working values for the default data (or the data that you add) and is maintained by the macros.

The spreadsheet also contains simple macros that allow you to clear server information, store new default information, and retrieve default information, which corresponds to information based on the server(s) you are comparing. The spreadsheet is populated with a sample scenario comparing a retirement-ready Compaq Prosignia server with four new servers from different manufacturers (Dell, HP, Compaq, and Fujitsu). You can also use this spreadsheet to compare servers for new roles and new purchases (not replacing an existing server).

Cells C20:C27 and E20:E27 are automatically populated on every sheet, except Server Models. On the Server Models worksheet, you can enter six models to compare, as well as the current server that will be replaced if applicable.

Many of the cells have comments available that describe what information is appropriate in the field. The comments are denoted by the red triangles in the top-right of the cell. Move your mouse pointer over a red triangle, and the comment text will appear.

Make informed decisions
The goal of the spreadsheet is to allow you to compare server models in line with each other to aid in the preimplementation decision-making process. It may be time consuming to gather all of the information, but it can present the facts to make you a better decision-maker.

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