Your business is growing and you need a small business server? Today, this system has transformed the way small businesses operate, reducing costs and improving efficiency.
There’s never been a better time to start using a server in your business — but which one should you choose?
With so many server options to choose from, it can be a daunting task to understand your options and then make the right choice.
Should you have a server in place?
Will a cloud-based small business server do the trick?
The main big brands like Dell, HP, IBM have server platforms for small businesses. But nothing prevents you from setting up your own small business server either.
The important thing is to match your company’s needs with the right server type.
Small Business Server
While a small business server might look no different from a high-end PC, the machines are designed for very different tasks.
A server is designed to run:
- multi-user applications;
- messages and print servers;
- shared calendar programs;
- data base;
- enterprise resource planning and customer relationship management software, among other solutions.
A server also makes it easy for your employees to share data and collaborate as it operates as a central repository for all your documents, images, contacts and other important files.
A small business server can also host an intranet to share information with your employees quickly and cost-effectively.
Set up a virtual private network and you and your employees can access data on the server remotely from anywhere you have Internet access.
In addition, a server can automatically back up your desktop and laptop systems, so you never lose important data if a computer fails or is lost or stolen.
Choosing the Best Small Business Server: 4 Options
The idea here is that because there are so many different ways to use your server, there is no one category of server that fits every business. Therefore, as you review the servers shown below, remember that it is your need that will determine which server, or servers, you will choose.
Tower servers are the simplest. You can easily confuse a tower server with a desktop PC — and, in fact, you can turn a desktop PC into a server.
They are cases with a good amount of RAM, HDs and good processing. You will need IT support to configure it but nothing that is impossible.
On the downside, you have little room for upgrades and expansions plus you need a keyboard, monitor, and mouse to manage each tower server.
If you anticipate that your IT requirements are rapidly expanding, a rack or blade server is a better alternative than finding space for multiple towers.
In addition to being able to build your own server, you can also find ready-to-use tower servers with the same operating system option as rack and blade servers, including various types of Windows Server and Linux.
The best server for small business is likely to be tower servers because of their cost.
If you anticipate the need to run multiple servers, immediately or in a short time, consider moving to rackmount models.
These types of servers come in a standard width and height allowing you to place many servers in a relatively small space and typically include a cable management system to keep your facility clean.
The big advantage of rack servers is that they are easy to expand, with sockets for multiple CPUs, large amounts of memory, and lots of storage.
Rack server systems are highly scalable. Once you have the rack in place, you will not need space for additional servers until the rack is full. Although they typically cost more than tower servers, they are cheaper than blades.
Because rack servers operate in close proximity to each other, they require more active cooling than tower servers. You will need a climate control system to maintain a complete cooler. For these reasons, most companies isolate their rack servers in a dedicated room.
Rack servers can be more difficult to maintain because they must be physically removed from the rack for maintenance. And just like a tower server, rack servers require keyboard, monitor and mouse for configuration and management.
Prices easily increase as you add CPUs (or CPU cores), memory, hard disk bays, virtualization features, and other features. You should also consider the price of the rack and the mounting rails needed to install the server.
The main distinction between a rack server and a blade server is that multiple blade servers operate within one chassis. Adding a new server is as simple as sliding a new blade into the chassis.
You can install other networking components, such as ethernet switches, firewalls, together with servers in the same cabinet, and you can install the entire set in a rack.
Since the chassis provides power, cooling, input and output, and connectivity to all internal devices, you don’t have to deal with new cables when adding something.
Blades are cleaner and can have more computing power in a given space than any other server ecosystem, but their initial cost is higher because you must also purchase the enclosure.
Blade servers have their drawbacks. They generally offer fewer expansion opportunities because they are not equipped with as many PCIe slots and drive bays as tower or rack servers.
On the other hand, companies deploying blade servers often have shared storage, such as a storage area network, to support their blade servers.
As you’ve probably guessed, housing all these components next to each other generates a lot of heat. Blade systems, such as rack servers, require a lot of active cooling (usually augmented by fans mounted inside the chassis).
The Cloud as an Alternative
Why not put everything in the cloud?
There are several companies available for the cloud solution. For starters, they don’t involve a significant capital outlay and you won’t need IT staff to manage the server.
There is also no need to worry about equipment or software becoming out of date or obsolete. The stability and reliability of any chosen service provider is your first and foremost concern. Storing your data on devices beyond your immediate control also raises privacy and security concerns. Losing your data temporarily or even permanently is nobody’s wish.
Other points are the risk of lose your internet connection and run out of access to your apps and data. Your employees will not be able to share files and will be stuck.
You may also lose the ability to manage your business until your Internet connection is restored. And if your business uses large files and your broadband connection is slow, your productivity will suffer.
So the cloud may not be an option for everyone.
So, what is the best server for your company?
If all you’re looking for in a server is file sharing, backup, and limited remote access capabilities for a small number of employees using computers (ten or fewer), a Windows Home Server computer or NAS will satisfy your needs and requirements with an extremely modest investment. Best server for small business in this case will easily be tower use.
They don’t take up a lot of space and don’t require elaborate cooling systems, but they are easily expandable and more advanced models can support virtualization.
As your IT requirements grow beyond what some servers can do, it’s time to consider migrating to a rackmount server. Dozens of these machines can fit in the same space as a few towers, and this server architecture is quite scalable.
Blade servers are even more space efficient and scalable. If you need more servers than can fit in a rack, you’ll be happier with a blade ecosystem.
At this stage of implementation, it is important to count on the support of responsible and experienced professionals in the market to help you put into practice the best solutions for your business.