How to choose a server.
There will come a point when your business will grow large enough that it is essential that you buy your first server. Buying a server is a big decision, so it is important that some research is undertaken. Hopefully this blog post will help you decide what type of server will best fit your business.
Although visually a server can look very similar to your above average desktop PC, it is manufactured to run very different tasks. A desktop PC is designed for a single user who needs a user friendly operating system to run desktop applications such as a word, excel, emails, and a web browser. Whereas a server has a specialised operating system that is designed to support multiple users across multi-user applications such as email, messaging, and print servers, shared calendar programs, databases, ERP & CRM software.
A server has a central repository for all documents, images, contacts and other important files, this makes it easy for all users to collaborate and share data. Along with this a server can host a company intranet which can be used to share information quickly and efficiently. A VPN (virtual private network) can be set up so that users can access data that is on the server remotely from anywhere you have internet access. Another feature of a server is that it can automatically backup both desktop and laptop systems, so you’ll never lose critical data if one machine fails or is lost or stolen. Servers are built to be secure, reliable, tolerant of faults, and with multiple storage options. Depending on the size and direction of your business will depend on whether you should look at servers that a scalable and can grow alongside your business.
Choosing The Right Server For Your Business.
Oracle, Dell, Fujitsu, HP, IBM, and Lenovo are all big players in the server market. Choosing the right server depends largely on the specific applications that are going to be run on it. If all you are intending to do is file share, client backup, and some remote access a Windows Home Server should be considered. If your business has 10+ employees, if you are going to be operating an email or print server, managing a large database, or run server based applications such as a ERP or CRM, you have large storage requirements, you’ll want a more robust server such as a tower, rack or even a blade server.
A big argument could be “why not put everything in the cloud”? There are some great services such as (AWS) Amazon Web Services, Microsoft’s Windows Azure, and Rackspace Cloud Hosting. Cloud alternatives don’t involve a significant capital outlay and you won’t need specific staff to manage the running of the server. There is also no need to worry about the equipment or software becoming outdated or unusable either.
However the cloud has many, many limitations. Arguably the main concern is the stability and reliability of the service provider chosen. If the service provider was to go out of business or experiences a loss of data this would mean your business would grind to a halt. Moving on from this you could lose access to all of your data. If your internet connection is lost, you will be cut off from all applications and data, and your employees will be unable to access and share files. In effect all business is ceased until internet connectivity is restored.
Storing your business data on equipment that is outside of your control brings up privacy and security concerns. And even though you are not paying staff costs, maintenance costs, and investing in new equipment directly these are reflected in the license fees. The cloud may not be the right option.
What’s a Virtual Machine?
A virtual machine is a computer program that creates a virtual computer system, complete with virtual hardware devices. The virtual machine runs as a process in a window on your current operating system. You can install an operating system inside the virtual machine and the operating system will actually think its running on a real, physical machine. Whenever you would like to use the operating system you can just open the virtual machine and use it in a window on your current desktop.
At Cuskit Limited, we build software to run happily on any and all of the above server configurations.
If you’d like to know more about our products or custom software solutions, please contact us on either 01827 312217 or drop us an email