Last Updated on May 1, 2018
A server or servers power the software that small businesses can rely on to run efficiently. Teams can utilize servers on collaboration projects, they can store business data, and even backup data on the cloud.
This post explains the key features and highlights every entrepreneur should look out for when selecting the right server.
The server has undeniably transformed how businesses operate. The increasing efficiency and falling costs of hardware have made these the best times for companies to invest in a server to handle all sorts of computing requirements.
In fact, entrepreneurs are spoilt of choice considering the wide variety of brands and types of servers that are designed to suit the demands and budgets of every business.
If you are considering buying a server or servers for your business, the most important question to answer is, which is the right one for you?
Table of Contents
First, understand your business’ needs
With so many types of servers to choose from, selecting the right one can seem like a daunting task, but it doesn’t have to be.
The avoid making the selection process a hassle and to avoid making the wrong pick, take some time to understand what your business needs.
Do you need an on-site or an off-site server? Which operating system best suits the software your business uses? Is a cloud-based server ideal for your business? Ask yourself these five questions to figure out the right server type for your business.
1. Do you need a server primarily for file sharing or email?
2. Do your staff need to connect remotely to the server?
3. What minimum system requirements do software you use in your business require?
4. Will your business use the server to backup data? If so, how large are the files?
5. How much physical space and security do you have to provide for the server?
Typically, a server is designed to handle multiple workloads such as data backup and file sharing. It should also:
· Feature robust data recovery features.
· Be capable of hosting the business’ own domain.
· Be capable of comprehensive email and communications filtering, sorting, and archiving.
· Allow business employees to easily access business tools and software using their own devices.
· Offer exceptional value over external server products.
· Provide an easy way to support a fast growth of your small business.
However, when determining which server to invest in, it is advisable that you create a list that prioritizes the business’ needs. This will give you a clear roadmap that leads to the acquisition of the right server.
Server processing power, memory, and storage requirements
One of the top determinants of the power and capacity of your business’ server is how much working memory (RAM) and storage (disk capacity) you need. In determining which server to choose, let us assume that your business server will carry out these five functions:
1. File management (including file sharing, data backup, and remote access)
2. Print server (to manage multiple networked printers in an office environment)
3. Financial systems management.
4. Primary customer management system (the key system that runs the business)
5. Email server (handling corporate mail).
For each of these functions, you will need to allocate three main values to your ideal server: the processor, memory, and storage. You will end up with a matrix that looks like this:
|File server||2 Cores||4TB||4GB|
|Print Server||2 Cores||50GB||2GB|
|Finance system||3 Cores||1TB||4GB|
|CRM Sytem||3 Cores||2TB||4GB|
|Email Server||2 Cores||2TB||2GB|
|Total (with overhead)||12 Cores||10TB||16GB|
As you set out to choose a server, it all comes down to your preferred brand, the processors, and their clock speeds, the amount of RAM and the storage capacity.
Although it is possible to upgrade the memory and storage at a later time, it is best for you to accommodate all your future needs—think 5 years—and find a server that has more power, memory, and storage than you need now.
In the past, you would probably need to shop for separate servers to handle the different functions in the business or combine two or three of the less demanding applications in a single server to save money. Today, however, a single powerful server can handle all these tasks.
The key here is virtualization.
Operating System and Virtualization Options
Virtualization is not a new technology, but it only matured and got commercially accepted just a couple of years ago.
Before virtualization, businesses would acquire different servers for specific tasks e.g. email service would be run from its own server and the business’ financial system would probably have to be outsourced to an external server. It was almost impractical to double up services on a single server.
With more reliable hardware and evolved software in the market, and thanks to Moore’s law, processing power, and memory are no longer the bottlenecks to server virtualization.
This means that a single powerful computer allows a business to create multiple virtualized machines that are allocated their slice of processing power, memory, and storage capacity using a software called hypervisor.
An important rule for selecting the right operating system is that it must support a vibrant and new age hypervisor. It must also have the capacity to safely allow other operating systems e.g. smartphone and employees’ own computers’ operating systems to connect to it and interface with system-level applications.
The most popular operating system for servers for small businesses today is Windows Server. Although over a decade old (it is in its 6th iteration), it is still the most popular and most widely used by businesses. If you prefer an open source system, then Linux Red Hat, SUSE, or Ubuntu are the best options for your server.
As for the hypervisor, selecting the right one can be a daunting and even confusing task, especially if you are not tech-savvy. The two largest players in the industry today are Microsoft’s Hyper-V and VMware’s vSphere. Other popular options are Oracle’s VM and Citrix’s XenServer.
Checklist for Buying a Small Business’ Server
In summation, here is what you need to purchase a server for your business:
1. Make a list of the services your business needs.
2. Determine the processor, memory, storage, and operating system needs for each service.
3. Design a solution that effectively mitigates risks of seriously impacting the business in case one or several components fail.
4. Consult a hardware or an IT specialist to determine the best equipment and software match for your budget.
5. Shop for the best deals in the market, comparing what various brands have to offer.
Thank you for reading. If you have any question regarding buying your first or upgrading your current server, don’t hesitate to contact iFeeltech for a free consultation.