Does My Business Need a Server?
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.
Servers can be expensive to purchase, maintain and ideally need replacing every 5 years.
The reality is that our IT landscape has been changing dramatically over the past couple years and there are more options than ever for businesses.
How do I know if My Business needs a server?
Every business is different, but it really comes down to a few key questions.
1. Is your business growing?
A server provides tremendous value at any size but significantly more so as you approach 5-7 employees or workstations and beyond.
- User additions and changes can take place in seconds instead of running around to multiple workstations.
- New systems and are quicker and easier to add and replace.
- Data access and security can be implemented very easily to ensure that your staff is only accessing what they should be.
This centralization means more consistency which equates to better employee efficiency.
2. Do you have to comply with industry compliance requirements (PCI, HIPAA, etc.)?
A server has built-in tools to help you enforce the security that is necessary to comply with industry standards. For example, let’s say you need to ensure that all computers lock after 10 minutes of inactivity and all user passwords need to be reset every 90 days. You can certainly go around and make all these changes manually but what if a machine gets skipped or if one piece is forgotten on a few systems? What if a system had to be replaced and these steps were skipped because a different person installed it? That manual error could be very costly, not to mention that you spend a considerable amount of your own time getting a lackluster result.
Servers are able to roll out the necessary security to all systems and ensure they are enforced no matter what is changed or added on your network.
3. Will you sleep better at night knowing all your data is protected?
A server offers a centralized approach and when paired with an appropriate backup solution, all critical information (users and security, data and applications) can be protected daily and restored easily when necessary.
Without this component in place, your data is scattered, and simple failures could be VERY costly for your business. Backing up a centralized server allows for peace of mind which is extremely important for a small business.
Still not sure if your business needs a server?
Servers are a complex piece of your IT strategy, and there are many other options available. As with all IT, there is no one-size-fits-all answer for every business. It is essential that you have a trusted IT adviser who understands your business and can work with you to ensure you are adopting the best solutions for your business.