How to Choose the Right Server

by David Secor

Sometime during the growth of a small or medium business, it may become apparent to the business owner that he can no longer rely on a few networked computers to perform the tasks that the business needs. Adding a server to the network may increase the productivity of the business and help the business adapt and grow. Selecting the proper server for a business, however, can be very difficult, because of the many roles that servers can perform. Here we will discuss the basics of how to choose the right server for your business.

Define the role that the server will play in your business. Servers basically need to act as file servers and print servers. A file server allows all the data of a company to be located on a central computer instead of multiple computers. A print server allows multiple printers to be connected to it, and grants access to those printers to multiple users. By replacing inefficient personal printers with large, business-class printers, a business can save on supply costs. Another role servers often play is that of an application server. The average desktop does not have enough power to run a large database or email system, so a server is often used to support these services. Finally, servers are used to deploy corporate intranets and to serve websites to the public Internet, and such servers require a large amount of power to service the needs of hundreds or thousands of users.

Choose the hardware to fit your needs. A small server for files or printers may need to be only a bit more powerful than the average desktop. Perhaps a single or dual processor server would suffice. For an application server, more power will be needed. A multi-core server, with large amounts of RAM and hard disk space may meet your needs. A large Internet or intranet server may require the priciest machines, with the most processors available, the most RAM and the most hard disk space.

Consider the redundancy options that you will need. A small file server or application server may get away with a simple raid solution to protect valuable data. Multiple network interfaces can ensure that the network loads are balanced and can provide redundancy in the case of a partial network failure. More mission-critical servers, such as web servers, may require hot-swappable RAID solutions, hot-swappable power supplies and other redundant systems.

Select a vendor that offers enhanced services, such as 24-hour telephone support or on-site hardware support, so that you can get extra help when you need it. In addition, many companies offer professional consulting to help determine the server needs for your business, and to walk you through the process of setting, running and maintaining it.

About the Author

David L. Secor is a computer repairman and writer from west Texas. He has been writing informational articles on a wide variety of subjects since approximately 2005. When not writing, he scours the desert for interesting photos, often ending up with nothing but embedded thorns for his efforts.