I think you’ll agree with me that choosing the best server for a small business can be a difficult process. With so many providers and server options to choose from, it’s almost impossible to know where to begin.
It doesn’t have to be this complicated. This article will help you make the decision process simple.
I’ll also explore the chief alternative to running your own server–relying on the cloud–and give you a brief introduction to virtualization. You’ll find this guide useful even if you ultimately decide to hire an IT consultant to analyze your requirements and make a purchase recommendation.
Research is important when choosing a server, Our team has worked with thousands of businesses, so we know what will work best. Book a free consultation today and we’d be happy to craft the perfect server for you.
Here is what you’ll learn in Part I of this article:
- What small business servers can be used for.
- The best server operating system to use for your business.
Here is what you’ll learn in Part II of this article:
- Which type of server you’ll need.
- Cloud and Virtualization
Server Basics: What small business servers can be used for?
Lets begin with dressing the basic differences of a server and a high-end desktop, although a small server might look no different from a high-end desktop PC, the machines are designed for very different tasks. A desktop computer is designed for one person who needs a user-friendly operating system to run desktop applications such as a word processor, a spreadsheet, an email client, and a Web browser.
A server runs a specialised operating system designed to support many users. It’s engineered to run multiuser applications such as email, messaging, and print servers; shared calendar programs; databases; and enterprise resource planning and customer relationship management software.
A server also makes it easy for:
- Your employees to share data and collaborate, since it operates as a central repository for all of your documents, images, contacts, and other important files,
- It can host a company intranet, for sharing information with your employees quickly and economically,
- Set up a virtual private network, and you and your employees can access the data on the server remotely from anywhere you have Internet access,
- A server can automatically back up your desktop and laptop systems, so you’ll never lose critical data if one machine fails or is lost or stolen,
- Servers are designed to be reliable, secure, and fault-tolerant, with redundant storage options. If you expect your business to expand, choose a server that’s scalable and can grow with you.
All of the big name brands such as Dell, HP, IBM and Oracle have server platforms aimed at the small business user.
Choosing the right server depends in large measure on the applications you intend to run on it. If all you need is file sharing, automated client backup, and light-duty remote access for PCs (typically ten or fewer), consider a NAS or even a Windows Home Server machine; HP, Netgear, QNAP, Seagate, and Synology are the major players in this arena. If your business has more than ten employees using computers, if you need to operate an email or print server, manage a complex database, or run sophisticated server-based applications (such as ERP or CRM), if you have very large storage requirements, or if you require large-scale virtualization capabilities, you’ll want a more robust option such as a tower, rack, or blade server.
It’s important to match the needs of your business to the right server type. Ask yourself these five questions:
Are you buying a server for file sharing?
Will your server be predominantly used for email?
Does your workforce need to connect to the server remotely?
Is your server going to be used for data backup?
How much space do you have available to accommodate a server?
Answering these questions will give you a clear idea of the kind of server features your business needs. Often, a server can be used to manage multiple workloads such as file sharing and data backup. It’s a good practice though to create a list that prioritizes your needs for a server. This gives you a clear roadmap to follow, which will result in your business choosing the right server for its main requirements.
The best server operating system to use for your business
The majority of servers use either Linux or Microsoft Windows Server as their operating system.
Linux is an operating system built specifically for multi-user server environments. Linux is available in a large number of distributions, and each distribution provides a complete server operating system with a package manager that allows users to easily install software such as a web server or email server.
Popular Linux server distributions include CentOS, Ubuntu, and Debian.
Microsoft Windows Server is a proprietary operating system designed for servers. It includes Microsoft-developed server applications like the IIS web server, tools for supporting virtualization, and security tools including a firewall.
Linux-based server operating systems are usually free, preferred by expert system administrators, and can support a huge quantity of high-quality open source software, most of which is also free.
However Linux-based operating systems have a steep learning curve for small business owners. If you’re familiar with Windows and prefer to manage your server with a GUI rather than on the command line, Windows Server is a better option. If you need to run Microsoft software like Sharepoint, Active Directory, or MS SQL, Windows Server is the only choice.