Continued use of a server after its manufacturer’s warranty has expired is arguably the greatest danger you can introduce to your organization’s business continuity. Since a server “serves” all other computers on your network, if it is not operational, all affected employees are suddenly taking a very expensive coffee break. Additional factors that go against continued use of an out-of-warranty server are reduced security, increasing problems with compatibility with newer workstations and software and the likelihood the operating system will stop being supported. Suffice it to say that the life-cycle of a server should be directly tied to its manufacturer’s warranty.
Why you need to replace an out-of-warranty server
Serviceability is likely the most important factor to consider. Once the manufacturer’s warranty expires, they are under no obligation to provide replacement parts for the critical equipment you depend on. Used parts become the only source if the manufacturer doesn’t have the parts any longer, and from experience, even the likelihood of finding reliable used parts is slim at best. Servers use very specific parts custom to that model, and if that part fails without a replacement, it simply cannot be repaired
Security is another major concern when operating a server that is no longer covered under warranty. In most cases, servers have a 5 year warranty potential. In that time-span, newer server operating systems are released with numerous security improvements. In some cases, there are two newer versions of the server operating system than your outdated server is operating. This, most importantly, means that security patches will no longer be released.
That leads directly to the next issue, which is compatibility for your outdated operating system and both existing and future software and peripherals. Microsoft usually supports only its latest operating system in addition to the previous version. In most cases, a 5 year old server is running either the previous version or 2 versions old. If it is the previous version, chances are it is about to be 2 versions old. This means that you are at risk of Microsoft no longer supporting the software powering your server.
Most software packages only support the latest operating system and the previous one. This means that the software you depend on might not even be able to be upgraded or supported any longer. Issues can arise with trying to add newer computers and printers to your server. This means that future software needs as well as current needs could be affected.
The life-cycle of a server should be no greater than the manufacturer’s warranty
To summarize, continued use of a server that has an expired manufacturer’s warranty is arguably the greatest antagonist of business continuity. If parts fail, you have no guarantee parts can be procured. Security exploits may no longer be patched. Microsoft and other vendors may stop supporting and offering software that you need and depend on. Due to these reasons and more, it’s only logical to consider the life-cycle of a server to be equal to the manufacturer’s warranty.