Any small business that has a website, uses hosted SaaS applications, or stores data can benefit from the use of a server, but with so many options available, it can be hard to make the right choice. In this article, we’re going to teach you how to choose a server for small business.
Here is what you’ll learn in this article:
1. What small business servers can be used for.
2. The best server operating system to use for your business.
3. Which type of server you’ll need.
4. How to get an expert opinion for your specific project needs.
A server is, in essence, a remote computer that is always connected to the internet. It can be used to host a diverse variety of services and applications that are accessed and controlled over the internet.
Typical uses of small business servers include:
- Hosting email
- Hosting a website or eCommerce store
- Hosting SaaS apps such as customer relationship management, invoice management, employee management, or planning and collaboration software.
- Supporting multiple virtual servers
- Backing-up business data
- Storing and collaborating on documents
- Providing virtual desktops to employees
A small business server can provide all of these services and more. A powerful server is capable of supporting all of them simultaneously, although there are benefits to splitting functionality between several smaller servers, rather than putting all your eggs in one basket.
Server Operating Systems
Although a server is similar to a desktop PC, it differs in key ways. Desktop machines are single-user environments with which users interact directly. Servers are multi-user machines that provide services for many different people and which are interacted with over network connections. Because servers are used differently, they need a server-specific operating system — the software that manages the server hardware and the applications installed on it.
The majority of servers use either Linux or Microsoft Windows Server as their operating system.
Linux — sometimes referred to as GNU/Linux — is a Unix-like operating system built specifically for multiuser server environments. Linux is available in a large number of distributions, and each distribution provides a complete server operating system with a package manager that allows users to easily install software such as a web server or email server.
Microsoft Windows Server is a proprietary operating system designed for servers. It includes Microsoft-developed server applications like the IIS web server, tools for supporting virtualization, and security tools including a firewall.
Which server operating system is best for small business? Linux-based server operating systems are by far the most popular choice — they’re usually free, preferred by expert system administrators, and can support a huge quantity of high-quality open source software, most of which is also free.
However, Linux-based operating systems have a steep learning curve for small business owners. If you’re familiar with Windows and prefer to manage your server with a GUI rather than on the command line, Windows Server is a better option. If you need to run Microsoft software like Sharepoint, Active Directory, or MS SQL, Windows Server is the only choice.
Types Of Small Business Server
Small business servers can be divided into two basic types: dedicated servers and cloud servers. Both provide a complete, self-contained server environment — the difference lies in how the underlying server hardware is used.
1. Dedicated Servers
A dedicated server is a physical server used by a single business. Dedicated servers are similar to desktop computers, but they use server-grade hardware that is more reliable and usually more powerful than most desktop computers.
Dedicated servers are the most powerful small business server option. They range from moderately powerful machines capable of supporting a busy website to massively powerful machines with dozens of processors and hundreds of gigabytes of memory. The most powerful dedicated servers can support high-traffic websites and eCommerce stores, applications with many thousands of concurrent users, and massive databases.
One or more moderately powerful dedicated servers are more than capable of supporting the application, web, and database hosting needs of a small business.
Dedicated servers are typically leased on a monthly or yearly basis.
2. Cloud Server
Cloud servers can be thought of as a slice of a physical server. Each cloud server is a complete server environment that appears identical to a dedicated server from the perspective of the user, but is in fact a virtual machine running in software on enterprise-grade server hardware. Each physical server can support many cloud servers.
There are several advantages to choosing a cloud server:
- Cloud servers can be deployed instantly via a web-based control panel.
- You can deploy as many cloud servers as you need with no delay.
- Cloud servers can be quickly scaled to accommodate changing demand
Cloud Servers and Hybrid Servers operate on essentially the same principles. The difference lies in the resources they have available and the way they are paid for.
Hybrid Servers are very powerful virtual servers. Each Hybrid Server has the same resources as a lower-tier dedicated server.
Which Server Is Right For Your Small Business?
It’s important to understand that each of the server options we’ve discussed offers a complete server environment capable of supporting any server application. All our servers can be used with either Linux-based operating systems or Microsoft Windows Server. Which is best for your small business depends on its particular requirements.
Dedicated servers are the best choice when performance is the most important factor. They’re the ideal server platform for high-traffic websites and eCommerce stores, big data analytics and other number crunching applications, applications with large numbers of users, and for high-load database or file storage. Dedicated servers are also ideal when a small business wants to guarantee that they are the only organization with access to the server hardware, something that may be relevant to regulatory compliance.
Cloud Servers offer the ultimate in flexibility. If you expect to need new servers regularly on short notice — as testing or development servers, to rapidly scale to support additional load, or to host new products — cloud servers are an excellent choice.
Hybrid Servers sit between dedicated servers and cloud servers. They are less expensive than dedicated servers, but also less powerful, although the most powerful hybrid servers are competitive with lower-tier dedicated servers.
Ultimately, small businesses don’t have to choose the perfect small business server. ServerMania offers a diverse selection of server hosting options so that businesses can choose the right mix of infrastructure for their particular needs. Many small businesses use dedicated servers to host business-critical long-term applications while taking advantage of cloud servers for their scalability and on-demand pricing.
Hopefully, this article will help you choose the right small business server for your company. Don’t hesitate to get in touch with our sales team if you have questions.