I consulted with a small business last week. Their host had stopped powering to a few weeks ago. There really are a couple things they could not do, but nothing that was causing a significant impact to their business. That got me thinking: does your business really need a personal server? For you, what does a server actually do with everything going to the cloud?
Many companies start out as a single user or maybe two and even if there are plans to grow the company, most often one doesn’t want to invest the funds in technology whenever there is no immediate need to do so. Let’s face it, once you’re a single user, the benefits of a server do not outweigh the costs of maintaining and buying one.
However, there’s a point where you’ve got a handful of computers to manage, different employees who have to have chosen access to files and possibly databases or applications. Now, the advantages of a centralized server could be realized.
What exactly does a server perform?
In small companies, it is common to refer to this thing in the corner as a server without understanding what it actually does. One server will manage other times and many different services it’s better to have separate servers for applications or applications.
A frequently used expression is print and file server. In this case the host shares files and controls access to those folders and files through distinct shares and permissions. The exact same is true with printers. Instead of having to try and determine which printer to get or how to put in it, then users can simply click add the server presents them with a list of printers and the required drivers, without having to wait for an administrator to install a printer in their opinion. It’s possible to setup VPN services to permit remote access to local resources.
In most businesses with Windows based servers, Microsoft Active Directory will operate on a host. AD is what determines if it’s possible to login into a pc (the one you normally use or a different one) and what access to provide you.
Advanced features which you get with Active Directory include the capacity to map network drives, place desktop backgrounds, screen savers, Internet favorites and install apps. There are a number of safety features which provide security and centralized management. Altering a security setting is 1 thing, but can be quite burdensome when you have multiple. With the threat of malware and crypto-ware, it’s vital to maintain systems locked down as possible.
One of the best methods to help stop viruses and other malware is to keep systems up to date. The capability audit the compliance level of these computers in addition to to centrally manage the upgrades to be installed is provided by windows Server Update Services.
So, do I actually need a server?
If you have more than a couple of computers, managing the user account and safety is going to be problem some at some stage. A password will get changed and not documented and hours will be spent worse or troubleshooting the problem, reconstructed or the system will need to be restored from a backup and data will likely be lost. This lost revenue based on which computer it had been and might easily cost your business hundreds of dollars in service hours.
Even if everything you use is in the cloud, there is likely a business case for having some local file shared or storage software. For example, QuickBooks, located in many companies, can not be used with Google or Dropbox Drive, not for access. And, don’t forget those upgrades. You’ll need some way and you also probably know you can not rely upon a set and forget mindset that they will automatically install without anything being done by you.
Compliance with business requirements such as PCI-DSS and HIPAA generally requires the ability to deploy and apply policies throughout your network of computers. While it may be possible to alter configurations on each computer, the cost savings will pay for the investment at a server setup.
Once we started out at In Motion, we did not have a server when it was just two of usbut once we hired a third employee, we invested in a server. Servers are going to be more expensive than a computer because they’re built with redundancy but they don’t have to bankrupt your company. Schedule some time to speak with your CIO. You can find a free business consultation with a CIO seasoned in providing solutions if you do not have a CIO.