As your business grows, so are your computing and technology needs, such as networking, enterprise platforms and file sharing. And as more business processes become digitized, the amount of data handled by your IT infrastructure also increases. Over time, your rudimentary computing system might be overwhelmed. Without appropriate intervention, this can lead to disruptions in your operations. To prevent problems and ensure efficiency, you need to increase the computing capacity of your IT infrastructure. This is where data servers come to the picture.
In general, a server can help a small business improve its IT infrastructure. However, choosing the best server is not that easy. You don’t want to skimp on an inferior model that won’t accommodate your future IT needs, or go over budget purchasing an unnecessarily powerful server. A server is a major IT investment that can have long-term impact on your business, hence, should be taken seriously.
Before you start looking for an appropriate server for your business, you might want to know a thing or two about it.
What is a server?
In many small businesses, aserver might just be like the ordinary office desktop. While they resemble office desktop, they are not the same. Unlike the regular desktop computer that runs user-friendly applications, such as a web browser, a word processor, and spreadsheets – and can be used by anyone – a server is dedicated to perform a solitary task.
A server runs a specialized operating system intended to support multiple users and applications at a time. It is designed to handle multiple applications from different users at the same time. This machine can run databases, shared calendar programs, printer servers, email servers, and various enterprise software solutions.
A server operates a central database for all business data, such as documents and files, graphics, and contacts. It eases file sharing and collaboration within the organization. Servers can be configured to host an intranet wherein authorized users can share information economically, quickly and securely. There are servers that can host avirtual private network that provides an encrypted tunnel where employees can access business data and consumers can surf the vendor’s server. This technology guarantees maximum privacy and data protection.
A server is critical for data storage and security. It can automatically backup computers connected into the system, so you’re assured that all business information are backed-up in a centralized repository. The server is equipped with a stringent security technology that protects it from potential data breaches. It is important to choose a scalable server so it can keep up with your growing needs.
An IT expert atFirewall Technical says that for small business owners, it isn’t really a question of whether you need a server but rather which type of server you need. In order to choose wisely, take a look at some important considerations below.
How do you choose the right server?
Firstly, you have to consider how the server will be deployed. Traditionally, servers are physical hardware that is purchased and installed within the business’ premises. Another method is by renting a server space in the cloud. Some of the popular cloud-based servers include Microsoft Windows Azure, Amazon Web Services, and Kamatera Performance Cloud, among others.
While onsite and cloud-based servers have the same function, they differ greatly – the most obvious being the actual location of the servers. However, the major difference would be on the cost. Typically, onsite servers cost more. Aside from the upfront purchase and installation expenses, its management, maintenance and update also entail financial costs.
On the other hand, cloud computing offers a reliable, scalable and secure server that can be accessed remotely. The server is hosted on the cloud and requires high-speed Internet connection. You don’t need to invest on the hardware as it is the provider’s function. And since the hardware is shared, it is often cheaper. Likewise, small businesses don’t need to shell out a huge sum for the initial investment. The business only pays subscription fees as per agreed payment schedule.
Let’s take a quick look at the advantages and disadvantages of onsite and cloud-based server.
- Complete autonomy and control over the server
- Allows business owners to modify storage types anytime
- Easier and faster onsite data backup and retrieval
- Expensive initial cost on hardware purchase and installation
- Costs of running and maintaining the server
- Requires physical security
- Hardware may not be fully utilized
- Potential risks from disasters
- Easily scalable
- Does not require capital costs on hardware purchase and installation
- Cut on costs associated with running and maintaining the server
- Equipped with data and application redundancy
- Highly dependent on stable and reliable Internet connection
- Costs associated with internet providers
- Lack of physical control over the severs
- Security depends entirely on the provider
Each server delivery method offers a standard set of benefit, as well as, disadvantages. As a small business owner, you need to choose a server that is most beneficial for your operations. It’s all about quantifying which one will best be suited to your unique IT needs. It all boils down to pairing it up with a system that suits the needs of your business.
In recent years, a hybrid between these two strategies have seen rise. Many businesses today establish a private cloud server. This server is one that is hosted in a dedicated cloud space or within the premises. With this new strategy, the cons associated with either on-premise and cloud-based servers are managed. It gives the company total control over the management of the server while also allowing remote access. Of course, the downside with private cloud server is that it can be several times costlier.
Aside from the computing strategy, there are other aspects that you need to consider about the server, such as its reliability, scalability, efficiency, autonomy, capital expenditures, and security. These are just some of the main considerations you’ll need to consider when choosing the server best suited to your small business.