Small Business Server in Detail
If you are familiar with the earlier post about network servers and small office network, you have learned that network is bloodstream of your company. Imagine your business IT system as a human body. If the network is bloodstream then the router is the heart and SERVER is the brain. This is how important server really is, and thus playing a vital role in your IT system.
If your brain or servers, in this case, is in a mess than you are disoriented, exhausted and constantly tired; same goes for the business network. With a badly selected business server, without proper maintenance, or outdated server with poor performance, it will cause your company chaos, worry, and anxiety.
To avoid business anxiety and have healthy IT system Secure Networks IT consultants and senior network specialist explained what business server is, how you can use a business server, affordable options you have in 2018, plus small business server buying guide that will help you choose the server you REALLY need.
What Does a Server Do?
Simply said a server is a computer attached to the network that processes all requests to deliver data to other computers within local network or Internet. Basically, it is an instance that responds to requests by the client. They are mainly used to send/receive emails, host websites and manage printing within the network.
The server has a lot in common with a personal computer. High-speed PC though. It is equipped with CPU, RAM memory, hard disk (usually several discs) and different ports, but all mentioned parts of the server are made to work 24/7/365 at much higher speed compared to a PC. In the same time, the server works under a different operating system, usually using Linux, Mac OS X Server or Microsoft Windows Server in many versions.
All this makes server capable to handle different jobs at high performance without having a need to turn them off. A server is always up and online. This is the main reason why your server needs the most quality components you can afford.
Use of Small Business Server:
- File Server – is usually used for storing and sharing files, images, videos, texts, and PDFs that can be accessed by network users within a company or remotely via a virtual private network (VPN). In some cases, the file server can be a NAS device (network-attached storage). NAS device allows network users to store files like they would do in their PC’s. A lot of home offices (with just a few network users) use a personal computer with high capacity hard disk as a file
- Email server (communication) – server for business are usually used as email servers. It can be defined as your virtual post office. In this case, the server is responsible for email exchange using specialized software, mail transfer agent. There are two main categories of the email server, outgoing (SMTP) and incoming email server (POP3 or IMAP).
- Domain server (hosting servers) – If you run e-commerce business then you are familiar with a domain This server stores all data and files from your website and authorizes users and computers to access your domain. For busy online stores with many visits, it is very important to choose reliable hosting provider or have reliable dedicated domain server. Domain server can be shared and dedicated. Secure Networks cybersecurity experts advise you to choose a dedicated domain server and that way avoid security problems since only you are responsible for your domain.
- Database server – Also a very common server usage within the business network is a database It is responsible to handle all data requests, data management, etc. for executing a query using computer language, like SQL, that is specific to the database. Access to data server can be done in two ways: via front-end and back-end (instance). Front-end access is done usually by phpMyAdmin, back-end access on the other hand by the server itself.
- Print server – allows the user to print from any network-connected device no matter where you are. The print server is connected to the network 24/7 and allows other computers (users) to print by managing printing requests. It is connected with one or more shared printers implementing printing protocols like Microsoft Network Printing protocol. This protocol allows the user to print without moving files to a computer that is connected to the printer. Read this article to learn how to share a printer in Windows 10.
- FTP Server – is used to move files via File Transfer Protocol. FTP server is possible to access by FTP tools like FileZilla or WinSCP.
Server Operating Systems
Server OS is an operating system developed specifically for server and its environment. This software solution needs to be safe, stable and allows collaboration with all users (other computers) within the network. Server OS is a bridge between the user and applications used by the server.
There are several factors to be aware of when choosing server OS: cost (there are free and paid OS for servers), hardware requirements, security features, stability, speed, server administration and third-party-applications. As you can see, the main idea here is to have secure, fast and reliable server since downtimes can kill your business.
Most popular and mostly used server operating system today is Microsoft Windows Server. Along with great support and affordable price it has a familiar user interface. It is fair easy to install and has fantastic third-party app integration abilities. Most popular versions are Windows Server Essential, Windows Server 2012 R2 and Windows Server 2016. It supports everything a small business needs: email, remote access, printer sharing, backup, file sharing, restore and many more.
Along with Microsoft, other software development companies have their server operating system alternatives. We will mention two main Microsoft competitors:
- Linux – reliable and cheap alternative to Windows Server. The server version of Ubuntu is free. It is easy to install, not so demanding for server hardware, and very stable and secure at the same time. The downside is limited support compared to Microsoft support center that offers 24/7 support across whole year;
Mac OS Server 5.5 – released in January 2018 works only with Apple hardware. It supports the most popular server features. It is easy to set up and maintain. It works well with MacMini Server. Cons are limited support and poor documentation. It is recommended for small home office networks.
How to Choose Business Server
Server manufacturers and key players in this field are Dell, HP, Lenovo, and Fujitsu. All of them have dedicated small business line of servers. Their sales representatives can help you a lot to choose the server that is capable to successfully undertake workload.
Follow this checklist for buying a server and purchase will be a lot easier.
Why do you need a server? For emails, printing job, finance and database, file sharing, customer management system? Different use of server needs different server configuration. The print server will need less storage compared to file server. File server will also need more memory. This brings us to the second question.
Hardware needs – storage, processor, and memory. More storage, more speed, the better. But does your business need the fastest server around. Do you find it cost-effective?
Server form – tower, blade or rack. Tower servers are free-standing upright units. This server model is very convenient for small businesses with only one server. Rack servers are horizontal units that have expansion slots. They are perfect to space saving in big data centers. Blade servers can work only if they are placed in a blade enclosure. One enclosure can hold up to several servers.
Server operating system and software licensing – paid Microsoft Windows Server or free Linux OS? All depends on your needs, budget but also IT support.
Cost – the price of a server can vary with different manufacturers. Try to stay within your budget but also try to make compromises on other fields not when buying server.
Scalability – Follow your business growth in every aspect. IT aspect is the crucial one. This is why you need a server that will easily allow adding new users and data when needed.
Virtualization – produce more virtual servers from one physical server. Virtualization providers like VMWare will ensure that your CPU, memory, and storage is used more effectively. Virtualization is a great way to overcome and handle work-load peaks in a different time of day.
Server market trends – Don’t wait for the server to stop working and jeopardize your business and then purchase another. Follow trends both related to prices and new technology and act preventive and on time.
Don’t get lost and overwhelmed with so many options. Buying a first server for your business is not easy. Overcome common pitfalls and consult with the right people, contact IT specialists who install and manage several servers each day. They know the right answer.
3 Best Small Business Servers Under $3,000
These are the best small business servers in 2018 you can find for the decent money. Dell and HP are the most trusted brands in the US and definitely, you will be very pleased and satisfied. No matter the server purpose these 3 will do the job for every SMB.
Dell Power Edge T640 Tower Server
The versatile and great choice for SMB, even data centers. This Dell server is what you are looking for virtualization, desktop virtualization, consolidation, database, business analytics (BI) and intelligence, and much more. It is available as rack and tower.
- Intel® Xeon® Platinum 8180
- VMware ESXi 6.5 NFI
- 32GB RDIMM, 2666MT/s, Dual Rank
- 14TB 7.2K RPM SATA 6Gbps 512e 3.5in Hot-plug Hard Drive
- Dell Price $1,749.00
- Free Delivery
HPE ProLiant ML350 Gen10 Server
Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) has a great line of small business servers. ProLiant series is the world famous lineup for small and medium-sized businesses. ProLiant servers offer powerful configuration for every server use, even for performance hungry apps. Good connectivity and decent storage are good starting point for SMB of any size.
- Intel Xeon Silver 4110 processor,
- 0 TB with 128 GB DDR4 DIMM (max),
- 16 GB memory,
- P408i storage controller,
- 8 small form factors drive bays,
- 800W power supply
- Price $2,449.99
Fujitsu Primergy TX2560 M2
The FUJITSU Server PRIMERGY TX2560 M2 offers maximum performance and great expandability. It has two Intel® Xeon® E5 v4 processors and 1536 GB (3TB release planned for end 2016) DDR4 memory support. Up to 10 extension slots and the redundant power supply. The server is good for performance virtualization solutions and if you have high storage demand.
- Intel® Xeon® E5-2600 v4 product family with up to 22 cores
- Up to 1.532 GB (3TB release planned for end 2016) DDR4 memory and up to 10 PCIe Gen3 slots
- Expanded scalability of up to 32x 2.5-inch or up to 12 3.5-inch plus 2x 2.5-inch storage drives
- Price around $3000
Cloud Server for Small Business
Many statistic data show that in the last few years more and more small business owners decided to try cloud computing and give a chance to the cloud server for small business.
Why? Because they want to cut costs. Should you migrate to the cloud? Depends.
Recent Microsoft Study Shows
of small businesses say keeping with the latest technology is important to their business
of surveyed use cloud technologies
of SMB who use cloud technology wished they had done it sooner
of Microsoft’s revenue in 2018 will come from cloud-based services
Cloud Solutions for Small Business
Let’s see what options small businesses have when it comes to Cloud solutions. Basically, you can do everything in Cloud, store and share files, send emails, chat 1:1 with co-workers and clients, and much more. You don’t need to think about security patches and ant-spam anymore. It is all handled by the service provider. So instead of having data on a server located in your office, you’ll retrieve data from the server or group of servers located on the Internet.
Let’s introduce few cloud solutions for small business that may clarify what is cloud computing and what are benefits for SMB.
- Cloud Storage – perfect solution if you want to get rid of your file server. Depending on the size of storage you need to choose some of many business popular storage services; Microsoft OneDrive, Google Drive for Business, Dropbox for Business, Box and many more. They all offer file storage, sharing and synchronizing. Most importantly you and your co-workers can access files, videos, images, PDFs even with a smartphone and from a remote What to consider when looking for cloud storage: monthly cost, size of storage, mobile app availability, discounts for a yearly subscription, guaranteed uptime, security features.
- Cloud Communication & Collaboration – If you think that your e-mail server is outdated, and you are looking to switch to the cloud then Office365 is the perfect solution for you. Office 365 is an all-in-one cloud-based tool for email management and complete collaboration within team members, including chat, file sharing, messaging, planning, CRM integration, web meeting, distance calling, and much more. It is a real productivity boost for small and medium-sized companies. Of course, you can have all mentioned on your Android device or iOS via mobile apps that come free if you have an Office365 Business subscription. There is no need to maintain and patch your email server anymore since Microsoft will be responsible for continuous uptime, data security and availability 27/7/365.
- Security – Bitdefender Plus is an ideal anti-virus Cloud platform for small and midsized companies. You can stay protected from ransomware, viruses, and spam for under $20 per seat.
There are a ton of other Cloud-based solutions for e-commerce, finance, HR, assets management, sales, and marketing, project management, help desk, website building, security, customer relationship management, etc. They all can help to simplify IT infrastructure for growing or building a new business but there are a few more benefits:
- You don’t have to buy a new server or upgrade the old one,
- No maintenance meaning you don’t need a dedicated IT staff,
- Use one application (like Office 365 or Google Apps for Business) instead of several for similar jobs. Send emails, chat, send messages, phone calls can be done using just one platform,
- You don’t need to install new software versions or server patches,
- You and teammates can use the mobile version of applications and have in-time sync on office computers and smartphones.
So, cloud or in-house server? Cloud vs dedicated server? Both have pros and cons, let’s see the main differences.
- Fast server deployment
- Fast server configuration
- Ongoing Monitoring & Alerts
- Add storage when you need it
- Option to set backup time (even in minutes)
- No need for in-house IT
- You are relying on a third-party vendor
- For some small business still expensive
- When you are offline don’t have access to data
- Costly (or poor) support and response time (for some providers)
- You don’t share data with anyone outside the company
- Server prices are going down for last few years
- You are responsible for data security
- You don’t depend on your Internet connection
- Software and license expense
- You need regular visits from IT company
- Some businesses need a server room
- You need disaster recovery plan
How to decide? Try one or two cloud-based solutions to see how it will go. Compare costs for both solutions and see what suits the best for your business. If you need IT consultants, that can help you make decision call 855 707 9935. Secure Networks INC engineers can deploy best small business server no matter if you are looking for cloud server or you are more bare-metal hardware user.
Build or to Buy Server?
Many small business owners try to save some bucks on capital outlay. IT equipment shouldn’t be on that list but…
If you think you can save money or have other benefits if you configure and build in-house server read the following lines, you can change your mind.
- You’ll save but just slightly
- You can choose components depending on your needs
- Configuration is not tested in a real environment
- No manufacturer supports
- You don’t have full warranty
- Leak of software patches and driver updates
Think twice, is it all about the price? What about software and licenses that server will utilize, what about manufacturer support or warranty?
If you still think building a server for business is the better option of buying continue reading.
How to Build a Server for Small Business?
As IT specialists we strongly advise to carefully chose IT staff that will create a list of all needed equipment and is able to put together all components and to test the server. Experience and knowledge are what you are looking for.
Just to keep you informed these are the 5 main steps your IT should follow when building a small business server from scratch.
Step #1 – Choose Storage; one of the most important components of the server is hard disk drive or drives. Choose SATA discs because of speed no matter the price.
Step #2 – Microsoft vs Linux; Choose server environment. Read lines above about server operating systems.
Step #3 – Chipset configuration; Decide on the motherboard, RAM memory, RAID controllers, CPU units, cooling, power, and chassis.
Step #4 – User management (Roles & permissions); Set permissions for network users to straighten system security. Restrict access to some files on servers and assign roles according to company’s departments.
Step #5 – Backup; Consider having a NAS device or separate hard disk just for the backup purpose.