These are the good old days.
*cough* planned obsolescence *cough*
Not really. The planned obsolescence came later. In the Netware era, servers were supposed to last indefinitely. They were over-engineered - and priced accordingly. When there wasn't a demand for a lot of them, you could easily justify putting the money in. But when demand for network services went through the roof, the old philosophy of "small numbers of high quality and expensive" gave way to "many inexpensive and easily replaced" when it came to hardware.
Each philosophy had its merits and strong points. But numerous, relatively cheap, and 'good enuff'
seems to be the way the market and the field has gone. At least for your garden variety networked data requirements like serving web pages, tossing e-mail, hosting social networks, bootlegging media or software, and posting stupid or obscene pictures. But since that's what I'd say 80% of the overall computer use is these days - who really cares? Just get it up and running 'good enough."
So it's not so much "planned obsolescence" (except when it comes to new versions of MS Office
) as it is a question of economics and the "fix vs replace" calculation. The old adage: Speed/Price/Quality - pick any two!
has never been so true as it has with computer hardware. The simple truth is you pretty much get what you pay for. And people are not willing to pay too much in the way of a premium just to get reliability. Most would just rather replace something when/if needed. And that lower reliability does keep the upfront costs down. So in an era of financial management where getting your boss to even look as far down the road as the current quarter (as opposed to the current month) when it comes to spending and "making the numbers" is quixotic at best, cheap less reliable hardware wins the day.
From what I've seen, the newer stuff doesn't hold up as well because it simply wasn't built as well. Or tested as thoroughly before it was boxed and put into inventory. And oddly enough, most times it doesn't really matter. If it breaks - they'll send you a new one if it's still under warranty. If not, you just buy a new one. (That's also why reliable backups and continuity planning are more critical than ever.)
For real mission critical stuff like emergency services, financial institutions, banking systems, medical providers, and air traffic control, the "old school" uber-reliable approach still holds sway.
Truth is, in the end, it all gets done. Or not.