Server Buying Guide for Small Businesses
As a small business, you might be wondering whether it’s time you invested in a server. Once your business scales past using one or two computers, it’s normally a good time to start using a server. But with many different options out there, it can seem difficult to decide on what type of server to use.
In this server guide, we’ll explain what a server is, the different types of servers, and how to choose one that’s best suited for your business.
What’s a Server, and Why Does Your Small Business Need One?
A server is a computer device that provides services to other computers and devices, known as “clients”, over its network. Services include data, programs, and other resources. Servers are more powerful than typical computers and are designed to be running continuously.
There are many reasons why you should consider a server — below is a list of several of these. If at least one of them applies to your business, investing in a server would be a good idea.
Multiple employees need access to the same data: If your employees need to use the same software or access a company database, a server allows them to easily do these both on-site and off-site.
Remote workforce: If your employees need to access company resources away from the office, you need a server. A server gives your employees remote access to the company network wherever they are, letting them do their work even if they aren’t in the office.
Using shared devices: Shared devices such as printers have benefits when using a server rather than direct IP printing, such as centralized print management, increased employee productivity, and increased security.
Data security: By providing a centralized location to store your company data, a server keeps your information organized and secure, preventing you from losing valuable files.
Cloud-based vs dedicated servers
The first thing you’ll have to decide is whether you should opt for a cloud-based or a dedicated physical server for your business. Both types have their own characteristics.
Here’s a breakdown of the advantages and disadvantages of each server type so you can decide which one is more suitable for your business.
A cloud-based server is a virtual server that is provided by a cloud hosting provider.
- No physical devices necessary;
- Maintenance and upgrades are managed by your provider;
- Storage space can easily be scaled up or down;
- Low upfront cost.
- Not as fast or efficient as dedicated servers;
- Less privacy and security;
- Cannot access your data without the internet;
- Becomes expensive long-term or when scaling up.
A dedicated server is also referred to as an on-premise or in-house server. It’s a physical device that you keep on-site.
- Faster speeds allowing high-bandwidth tasks to be completed easily
- Full control over your servers so you can customize however you wish
- Better privacy and security of your data
- Cheaper in the long run
- You need to install the physical device on premises
- Maintenance and upgrades are your responsibility
- Less flexible scaling options
- Higher upfront cost
Choosing between a cloud-based or a dedicated server ultimately depends on your specific business requirements and what attributes you prioritize, such as speed, security, flexibility, and cost.
Should you build or buy a server?
If you choose to go for a physical dedicated server, you have two options: buying a pre-made server or building your own from scratch. Here’s a breakdown of choosing each option.
Building your own server
When building your own server, you need to select and buy the individual components yourself according to your server requirements. Some basic components that every server will have include a chassis, motherboard, CPU, and hard drive.
- Complete configuration and room for customization for your exact needs
- Possibility for lower overall cost
- High margin for error
- Lack of technical support from a manufacturer
- Time-consuming to select and source parts and then assemble
Buying a pre-made server
If you choose to buy a pre-made server, you can browse a catalog of various servers from different manufacturers online. You can then choose one which fits your business needs and budget.
- Convenience of having a ready-made server for immediate use
- Functionality and workability are already tested and confirmed
- Comprehensive warranty and technical support from manufacturer
- May be more expensive than building yourself, particularly with sophisticated models
- More limited capability for customization and upgrades
The choice comes down to your specific priorities and requirements. If you have very particular specification requirements — and you have the time and expertise — building your own server could be a good idea.
If you’d rather have convenience, peace of mind, and a guarantee if anything goes wrong, then you should consider buying a server from a manufacturer.
Choose a server that fits your business needs
Choosing the best physical arrangement
Servers come in three different shapes: tower, rackmount, and blade. Which one you choose depends on the physical space you have available and how many servers you’ll need.
Tower: A tower server looks similar to a typical desktop computer. They’re a good option if you don’t plan or storing multiple servers and they don’t require additional mounting equipment.
Rackmount: These servers need to be installed and mounted on a rack, which is capable of holding multiple servers in different slots. Rackmount servers are a good option if you plan on storing numerous servers and want to save space.
Blade: Blade servers take up even less room than rackmount servers. However, due to their compact nature, effective cooling of blade servers can be difficult. They also require a bigger investment than rackmount servers.
Choosing for the right functionality
Servers are used for many different purposes, and many networks will contain several of the most common types. Typically, a separate server is used for each purpose.
Types of servers for businesses include:
File Transfer Protocol Servers: These are responsible for enabling file exchange between computers.
Database Servers: These servers run database applications and allow other computers access to the database.
Web Servers: Web servers host programs and data for use by clients over the internet.
Proxy Servers: A proxy server acts as an intermediary between a client and an external server.
Mail Servers: These servers transfer emails from one computer to another.
Application Servers: An application server is used to install and operate applications.
Best servers for your small business
Here we’ll present you with two different servers, the Dell PowerEdge T30 Tower server and the HPE Proliant DL380 Gen10 server, giving you a server overview of each one.
Dell PowerEdge T30 Tower Server
This is a solid choice as an entry-level server for your business. However, as it’s a tower server, using several of these will start to take up a lot of room.
It comes with 64 GB of DDR4 RAM, which is sufficient for a small business. But it lacks an ECC (error correction code), so it wouldn’t be considered a high availability server (minimized downtime).
Overall, this is a good server for most basic and mainstream tasks for your business such as email and web hosting.
HPE Proliant DL380 Gen10 Server
The HPE Proliant DL380 Gen10 is a 2U rackmount server that is one of the flagship HP servers. It comes in a range of different HPE servers models with varying specifications.
The RAM will vary depending on the model you choose. They are also equipped with an ECC. Overall, this is one of the most adaptable rackmount servers available. The exceptional security features, flexible storage options, and extensive customizability make this one of the best servers available for small and medium sized businesses. Ultimately, the server you choose for your business depends entirely on what factors you consider important and what limitations you have.
Here at IT Yuda - server hardware supplier, we stock a wide range of servers ranging from basic, entry level servers to the most sophisticated. To learn more and request your build, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.