A server allows businesses to point all users toward a centralized location to access files and applications. There are some considerations when deciding if your business needs a server. In general, servers offer many benefits, and are a common approach for businesses that want consistency, centralization, and/or PCI, HIPAA or other industry-specific compliance. If you're not sure that a server environment is right for your business, there are other alternatives to consider, each with their own pros and cons.
This is a very common question among small businesses, so let’s start with a quick definition of what a server is. A server is typically an on-premise, high-performance piece of hardware that is combined with a high-end, server-based operating system that is used to store data and centralize resources (what a mouth full). When done properly, all computers point to this server to access files and application data while hardware/software redundancy keeps a high level of up-time for your staff. There are numerous benefits to this type of centralization, but it doesn’t come without a cost.