How Much Old Hardware Can Buy For Legacy Sites

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While used VAX hardware can be a rare commodity to even locate by now, other legacy environments have some newer hardware options. Even the HP market, where the vendor hasn’t built a 3000 with fresh components since 2003, has some old hardware for sale. Using the manufacturer’s hardware platform would seem to be a safer strategy to keep legacy systems available for service. Is that true?

Like a lot of decisions about servers in 2019, an important phrase to add is, “It depends.”

If there’s no replacement system available to purchase with assured quality, then doubling down on a less-proven box, network interface card, or storage device is just extending the risk of running in legacy mode. Even reliable replacement equipment from the vendor’s old stock comes with a caveat. It might be in great working order now, but the Mean Time Between Failures has worn thin, perhaps to a serious number of hours or weeks.

In addition, the price for a vendor’s server using old but original equipment, even with reliable hardware, could be significant item for a legacy budget’s capital expenditures. In the legacy era, hardware pricing can be hemmed in by expectations. An A-500 HP 3000 is selling for $6,000 this month at Cypress Technology. That’s a low-end box on the power scale and arrives with only a 9GB boot drive and 300GB storage disk. What’s more, the system runs on a 100Base-T LAN adapter.

Those are old specs for performance. Are they enough? It depends.

In contrast, more powerful Intel-based hardware, running a virtualized HP 3000, delivers better networking speeds and storage in the terabytes. If the point of hardware purchases is to emulate the power of existing configurations, then old vendor hardware will meet that goal. If the legacy system needs any growth, though, it’s not going to get that through purchases of vendor hardware built nearly two decades ago.

Buying older hardware might buy some time — but unlike newer hosting boxes, the old hardware is not easily replaced and might have an unclear record of use. If it’s a short-term purchase for a solution, the old gear could be enough. A second system to replace the first would be a good investment anyway.

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