If you’re operating on a tight IT budget, the mantra “If it isn’t broke, don’t fix it” seems an appropriate response to hardware refreshes. However, while this approach seems reasonable, the costs and risks are greater than you might think.
Problems with using outdated hardware
Inefficient use of IT resources
It’s common for businesses to replace hardware as needed. Unfortunately, the end result of this practice is that there are several different operating systems in use throughout the business. Not only is it an inefficient use of your IT staff’s time to perform system installations in bursts, but your IT team has to develop skill sets and perform unique updates for each platform. Imagine if your job required you to be familiar with two separate types of software that accomplish the same purpose. Wouldn’t you agree that’s inefficient? Operating on one uniform platform provides easier access, management, deployment and problem resolution.
The fact is, older hardware requires more maintenance, has longer processing speeds and is more susceptible to crashes ‒ but if these are the extent of your problems, consider yourself lucky. Aging operating systems are more susceptible to vulnerabilities, because when systems reach end of life, the manufacturer no longer rolls out security updates for those systems. For example, as of June 2017, Microsoft XP has had 727 vulnerabilities since 2000.
These vulnerabilities leave your aging systems – and therefore all your business’s data – susceptible to breaches. The global WannaCry ransomware attack, for example, specifically targeted vulnerabilities in Microsoft systems. To protect your systems, The National Cyber Security Centre recommends keeping hardware and software up to date with patches (i.e. bug fixes), which becomes increasingly difficult – and eventually impossible – the older the hardware gets.
Tips for a successful hardware rollout
If you have any hardware that will be nearing end of support, best practice is to have new hardware in place prior to that date. To ensure a successful rollout that maximises your IT team’s time, ensures minimal interruption to work schedules and reduces the risk of security vulnerabilities, follow these tips:
- Plan the hardware upgrade process rather than installing systems on an ad hoc basis.
- Select secure, up-to-date systems that provide capacity for future growth.
- Maintain an up-to-date image of your network data that can be quickly and securely downloaded to your new systems.
- Complete the installations, test the new systems, gain user signoff and remove old hardware.
- Routinely evaluate system performance and plan future hardware updates before system end of life.
If you have questions about your next hardware rollout, we’re here to help. Please contact us anytime.