Selecting the best server for your small business is a big decision. This article will go through the basics of servers, look at different classes of servers, give rough pricing information and make sure that you don’t overspend or underspend on your server purchase. Cloud services can also be used in place of a server depending on your business needs. Read on to learn more.
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Basics of Servers
A small server might look identical on the outside to a desktop computer, but the two machines serve very different purposes. A desktop computer is designed for one user at a time while a server is meant to serve the needs of multiple users simultaneously. Typical desktop computer applications include word processing, spreadsheets, and an email client while a server runs multiuser applications such as email services, messaging, shared calendar and more.
The main purpose of a server is to give employees that need to share information and collaborate an effective and simple manner to do so. A server acts as the central hub for all business information.
If you operate a small to medium sized business you are probably asking the question, “Do I need a server? If so, what type?” Read on to learn more about whether or not you need a server, and also the main alternative to a server, cloud services.
Choosing the Correct Server
The largest names in the server industry are titans of the computing industry: Dell, Fujitsu, HP, IBM, Lenovo, and Oracle. Each of these companies have servers ranging from small, meant for a dozen users, up to servers that can serve millions of users.
If your server needs revolve around tasks such as file sharing, automated backup of desktop machines, and low traffic remote access (less than 10 users), then a simple NAS or Windows Home Server will get the job done. HP, Netgear, QNAP, Seagate and Synology all offer quality solutions in this area.
If your company has any of the following requirements then you will want a robust server option such as a tower, rack or blade server:
- More than 10 employees accessing the server simultaneously
- Email and/or print server
- Complex database management
- Need to be able to run complex server-based applications such as ERP or CRM
- Very large storage/backup requirements
- Large-scale virtualization capabilities
If you find yourself requiring one or more of the services in the above list then you should consider contacting an IT consultant in order to select the best server for your needs. A server must be located on-site at a business or location that a business owns (like the owner's home). IT consultants, like Packetworks, can ensure that your server has access to the fastest possible upload and download speeds.
Nearly all of the capabilities of a small scale server can be replicated via a cloud server without any decrease in quality. Services such as Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure and many others exist to serve the cloud storage needs of businesses. A cloud server has the advantage of simplicity (you won’t need IT staff to manage the server) and low initial cost (cost is on a monthly/annual subscription plan vs a large outlay of cash for server hardware and setup). A cloud server is located with the hosting provider of the cloud services. No on-site hardware is required.
The primary disadvantage of a cloud server is that you rely on your internet connection in order to access your company. A robust internet solution from Packetworks has 99.99% uptime guarantee, but other internet providers may not provide the same quality of service.