Your business is a result of good ideas, sound planning, and hard work. If it grew from one or two people to several employees, it’s a safe bet that your reliance on computers has grown, too. Do you have a plan that keeps your data safe, computers operating smoothly, and team working efficiently?
Businesses that start with no network at all, or a simple network connecting individual workstations, can outgrow their systems quickly. Each machine requires its own software, backups and security. File sharing can be problematic, and reliability is often an issue.
Servers are engineered with high performance processors and use hard drives and power supplies with built-in redundancy in case of failure. Some components can even be swapped with the machine on.
If you have more than a few users relying on computers, consider these other benefits of a server.
Collaboration and Resource Sharing
When collaborating on a project, some users risk data loss and create confusion by e-mailing files. Server files can be accessed by multiple people and are more secure. Files allow access to users with specific permissions. A human resources team, for example, can make programs or storage locations visible only to department employees.
Enterprise e-mail systems, such as Microsoft Exchange, can be very useful. Operating from a server instead of a host’s e-mail server, it stores messages received or sent from any machine on the network. E-mail files can be accessed from multiple devices, including wireless phones and tablet computers. An enterprise solution can also allow permission-based file access. This is appreciated by users who receive a high volume of e-mail and get help screening correspondence for meeting requests or items needing immediate response.
Shared calendars and project management systems facilitate further collaboration.
Rather than maintaining many lower-quality printers, several users can share a high quality printer. This reduces frustration and expense and allows employees working remotely to deliver printed documents to the office from anywhere—even a hotel room or mobile office.
Security and Backup
Without central control over individual computers, administrators face time-consuming machine-by-machine changes. A server administrator can change passwords, define user permissions, secure files, and install and upgrade applications across all machines.
A server streamlines network security and data protection. Virus protection is centrally installed, configured and maintained. Automated server backup saves time, reduces the possibility of missed files, and makes maintenance and replacement of individual storage devices unnecessary.
Your new network
When you’re ready for a server, let an IT professional design a system to accommodate your current and future needs.
A single standalone machine in your office may be just right. Or, if you have a large, mobile workforce, you might rely on a virtual server in a data center with a 24/7 support team. Some virtual server choices allow you to pay monthly for the server and software in the form of a rental or lease agreement, so you don’t have a lot of up front capital expense.
IT managers review current use patterns and evaluate special circumstances. Will you have unusual processor needs based on a certain application you rely on or the size of files you use? Is your internet connectivity stable enough to rely on an offsite server?
Once configured and installed, a server is designed to require little maintenance. The most common activities are adding new users and creating e-mail accounts, followed by the installation, configuration and upgrading of programs.
Good IT planning and support will ensure an optimized, updated and secure server that will contribute to your organization’s future growth.
Russ Levanway is the CEO of TekTegrity, an IT Managed Services Provider serving the Central Coast and Central Valley. The organization’s Total Systems Management™ (TSM) service model provides preventative IT support at fixed monthly fee levels. For more information, visit www.tektegrity.com.