Server upgrades used to make all the difference, which is why the old saw "When all else fails, throw more hardware at it" persists today. That's still true in some cases. But how much of IT is really that compute-intensive? Generally, you can save a lot of time and money by turning your hairy eyeball away from server hardware. The lower end of the server spectrum has more than enough horsepower to handle everyday tasks.
Here's one concrete example. On a network of over 125 users, an elderly Windows domain controller appeared to be ripe for replacement. This server originally ran Windows 2000 Server and was upgraded to Windows Server 2003 some time ago, but the hardware remained unchanged. This HP ML330 with a 1Ghz CPU and 128MB of RAM was functioning as an Active Directory domain controller carrying all the AD FSMO roles, running DHCP and DNS services as well as running IAS (Internet Authentication Services).
Molasses, right? In fact, it actually did the job just fine. Its replacement was an HP DL360 G4 with a 3Ghz CPU, 1GB of RAM, and mirrored 72GB SCSI drives. Carrying all those services, it runs hardly any load at all -- and the performance difference is unnoticeable.
It’s easy to identify applications that will eat all your CPU and memory, but they tend to be pretty specialized. For almost everything else, the humble commodity box will do the trick.
Read more about networking in InfoWorld's Networking Channel.