Server Choices for Small Businesses
Small Businesses don’t always have the computing or financial resources--or the need--to purchase a server. Lots of small companies will have a few workstations connected together through a wired or wireless Local Area Network (LAN), but when your business gets to a point where it needs more effective means of collaboration, running that LAN through a server can produce quite a few benefits. Today, we will look at why a server-based LAN is an improvement and what your company’s server options are.
Let’s say you are a small business that is in the market for its first server. Up until now your LAN was just made up of what we in the IT services industry call workstations. No matter how powerful a PC is on a LAN, if it’s set up as an end-point, it’s a workstation. A server, on the other hand, is in the center of the LAN. Each workstation can access the server to get the resources on the server, whether they be communications, data storage, or access to applications. This allows for better collaboration, more efficient computing, and the improved ability to secure digital resources.
What’s more, a server can be set up to allow for remote access, meaning that your employees will have the ability to have their work with them anywhere they are. You may be surprised just how much value this feature can have for your business. If everyone on your staff produces five percent more, that’s more available capital to invest in your business. In fact, if you don’t currently have a server, deploying one just for file sharing will provide a rapid and substantial ROI.
There are several server options that come with varying degrees of capital outlay. Firstly, you will need to establish what exactly you need the server for. Are you implementing a company-wide email system? Do you need central file sharing and storage? Would you like to implement a Customer Relationship Management (CRM)? Whatever purpose you plan on rolling out a server for you need to understand that buying, setting up, running, and managing a server at your business comes with additional costs. In fact, you won’t find an inexpensive part of running your own server, but with the prolonged boost in productivity it should pay for itself pretty rapidly.
An option that businesses have if they are unsure that their major capital outlay will produce enough profitability is to deploy a cloud server. Solutions from Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, and Rackspace all are decent and reliable options if you were to go this route. The benefit of hosting a server in the cloud is that you don’t have to make huge capital investments on hardware, management, utilities and security. These are provided as a part of a service. These companies offer virtual servers that provide generally the same purpose, but billed per month. Essentially, this method transfers the capital costs associated with buying and running a server into operational costs.
Cloud-hosted servers are more reliable than ever, but they don’t give your business the end-to-end control over data and resources that hosting your own servers can. Moreover, if for some reason your business was to lose connection to the Internet, you wouldn’t have access. This downtime can cripple even a rapidly-growing business’ progress. Not to mention the reliance you then have on your level of bandwidth, another cost consideration that may make hosting your own server a little more attractive.
Regardless of how you decide to roll out your company’s first server, it is an exciting time for your business. Call the Automation Concepts & Technologies, Inc. IT professionals if you have any questions regarding your organization’s information systems or IT management. You can reach us at (508) 622-5100.