Does My Business Need A Server
“Do we need a server?” is a common question for many growing businesses. Perhaps the real hidden question is “What does a server do for my organization, and do we need something that does that?” This question can be answered easily by understanding what a server does. Then each organization can make an informed business decision about their technology, and how it can help them achieve their objectives.
What a Server Does
Servers can actually do a lot of different things, which is why it’s sometimes difficult to decide. However, for the Small to Medium-sized organization, a server typically “serves” in any or all of the following roles:
- Central file storage
- Network printer sharing
- Remote connection
- Security for user account and file access
- Flexibility and expandability for new functions in the future
Central File Storage
Placing files in one place provides many advantages. First, it’s possible to organize folders in a logical hierarchy that allows folks to find what they want quickly. Second, it greatly reduces duplicates that can cause confusion when people are working with two different version of a single document. Also, hard drive technologies in servers deliver lower failure rates.
A small to medium-sized company’s data is just as crucial to them as it is to a larger company, maybe even more so. While a business could in most cases operate for a time without the use of any single computer, it’s hard to imagine running an organization for even one day without its critical data. Placing files in one place provides an efficient way to backup all of an organization’s important data.
Email and Collaboration
Few people would consider operating their organization without email, and while it is readily available as a hosted service out on the Internet for little or no costs; these versions are actually a simplified version of what email servers are capable. Ever tried to schedule a meeting with three other employees and had to send multiple emails (or make repeated phone calls) back and forth to coordinate all the schedules? Having your own in-house email server provides collaboration features like Meeting Scheduling, where you get an immediate display of everyone’s calendar so you can schedule the meeting at a time when you know each person is available. Web email is yet another great feature of an email server.
Network Printer Sharing
It’s common in growing organizations to see multiple printers connected directly to workstations. Many even try to share them by enabling it on the workstation itself. This works to the extent that the attached workstation is on, and subject to the performance of that system; which can cause confusion and frustration at times. A server can provide printer sharing that does not rely on any workstation, and is always available.
Servers can act in the role of network firewall too. In organizations that can’t afford to have full time IT security staff, it can be quite beneficial to have this layer of security. It also provides for secure remote access.
Ever wanted to get to a file while away from the office? A server can provide remote connection capabilities. Access files and printers from anywhere securely using VPN as if you were right there on the network in the office.
Security for User Account and File Access
Protect your most important, sensitive, and private company data using server-based access controls. This way, you can provide the right amount of access to the right employees. Provide read-only access to those who should view a file but not alter it. Deny access entirely to some but not others, and allow Full access to yet another person or group.
Flexibility and Expandability for New Functions in the Future
There is simply no better way to ensure your network can adapt to new features, functions, and technologies than with a properly implemented server. While there are alternatives to each “role” independently, there is a real cost to doing each by itself. This includes increased total cost of integration, difficult troubleshooting, poor performance, and inflexibility as new features and functions come along.