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For a business, big or small, servers make up an integral part of the technology infrastructure. Servers are indispensable as they are required for storing applications, websites, and files, along with providing remote access to your employees and much more. Without a server, the entire IT department would be unable to do anything.
Therefore, it is imperative to choose the server that is right for your business environment. Before we discuss choosing the best server, you should know what environments servers can run in. Read below for the same.
Different Environments for Servers
Servers can run in different types of environments, and you have the option to choose one of these. You can choose the best environment that suits your business after you learn about the pros and cons of each.
1. Onsite Servers (Traditional and Virtual)
Onsite servers are generally housed in a company’s server closet or on-premise data center. They come in two types:
- Physical, and
While physical onsite servers have only one operating system, a digital onsite server can have multiple operating systems through software such as VMware and Microsoft Hyper-V. These servers need a dedicated space in the company’s office and require constant and proper cooling and energy.
2. Offsite Data Center
Specific local and regional data centers will allow your company to rent a space for your servers and other network equipment in exchange for a recurring monthly fee.
Companies often rent out an entire secure server cabinet or half cabinet, depending on their needs. These servers at such a local data center are maintained and controlled by the IT department of your company, or you can also outsource an IT provider.
Companies can also purchase space on servers hosted in various spaces spread out over the world. Such servers are called cloud-based servers. Examples of these include Microsoft Azure and Amazon AWS.
These servers provide users with access to a portal to leverage their servers and cloud infrastructure without requiring hardware. The cloud provider provides hardware and data center security.
4 Main Factors to Consider When Choosing the Best Server
As there are many options to choose from, you should know these four factors that will help you in choosing the most suitable server for you:
1. Capabilities of the IT Department and Maintenance of your Company
If your company has on-site servers, then your company carries the responsibility of adequately maintaining the hardware, software, and server racks. Other things to consider, such as cooling, storage, and power. Maintaining on-site servers can be a massive challenge if your company does not have an effective and capable IT staff.
Moreover, suppose your company cannot regularly maintain the servers. In that case, it could result in an unexpected outage, which can have a big negative impact on the workings of your company.
You can outsource server maintenance from a managed service provider if you have on-site servers without maintenance capabilities. You can also opt for cloud-based servers that do not require much maintenance from your company’s staff.
It is necessary to properly maintain your servers because otherwise, your data will not remain secure. So, using only reputable companies’ help is recommended to maintain your servers.
2. Tight Budget
The next thing you should consider before opting for a server is your company’s bank balance. Depending on your budget, you should decide how many servers and which type you need.
The cost of buying the hardware and having a dedicated server room in your office can start from around $10,000, increasing according to the needs of your business.
All companies do not have the budget required to purchase all the necessary equipment for on-site servers, and they also run the risk of overspending on hardware if they never utilize them to their full potential.
Renting out space from a local data center is a direct expense that does not require spending too much at once. Cloud-based servers allow companies to only pay for things they need for their daily business activities, like storage space, processing, and memory.
Companies can also scale up or down when working with cloud providers. Thus, if your budget is not that high, renting out a data center or getting cloud-based servers is perfect for your company.
3. Disaster Recovery Capabilities
Another factor to consider is that if, by any chance, the servers go down abruptly, can your company survive when there is no server until it is rebooted or restored? As a business owner, you need to know how much your business needs something, and then you should make decisions accordingly.
Traditional servers can take hours or even days to get back online or restore your company’s data. On the other hand, it is possible to restore a virtual server in just a few minutes to a previous date or time through a virtual snapshot.
Your business may be of the type that cannot survive even minutes of server downtime; then, you should go for a cloud-based server or a data center environment.
The local and cloud data centers are meant for housing servers, which is why they have all the necessary resources to keep your company’s servers up and to run constantly. The cloud-based servers also have built-in redundancies that most small businesses can not afford.
4. Scalability and Growth
Before opting for your server, you need to figure out how fast your business is growing. If your business is increasing, there is a high chance that your server needs will also grow.
Think about what your business will be like in 2 to 5 years. Adding new servers to your on-site server environment every few years can be expensive. However, adding space to your cloud server is super easy and not very expensive.
Adding space as needed can be straightforward if you have rented out a data center for your server environment. You also do not need to worry about anything else, such as maintaining the server space, heating, and cooling, as the data center manages such things.
Other Factors to Consider
Before you decide on the most suitable server environment for your company, you need to know your company’s requirements. What does your company need from the server? After you have found the answer to this, you can find the server that meets those needs.
Consider what processor you require for your business goals. Suppose your company will engage in virtualization, video-transcoding, SQL, or specialized applications, such as chat servers. In that case, you need a strong processor, like Xeon or Dual Xeon in your server.
If your business has a website, it is crucial to decide on the bandwidth required after finding out the average traffic of your website. Choose high bandwidth if your website attracts high traffic and vice-versa. If your website is going to run scripts, have HD pictures, or stream multimedia files, you should also choose high-bandwidth servers.
You should consider the RAM of your server as well, as that will decide the speed of your Internet because more RAM means better speed.
You should be aware of the storage requirements of your website before deciding on the server you will get. It is advisable to get the RAID hard drive because if you choose some other and if there is a hardware failure, all your data will be lost. RAID is critical for mirror copying.
When getting a server, you need to choose between a Windows-dedicated server or a Linux-dedicated server, depending on the needs of your business and website.
If your company plans to host MS SQL, ASP.NET, or Microsoft IIS, you should use a Windows dedicated server. However, if you plan to use the LAMP or MEAN stack or any other application that does not require a specific Microsoft license, then a Linux dedicated server will be the ideal choice.
There are different tiers of data centers that you can find. Choose any one of them as per your business requirements:
- Tier 1: 99.67% uptime, 28.8 hours of downtime/year, no redundancy.
- Tier 2: 99.74% uptime, 22 hours of downtime per year, partial redundancy in cooling and power.
- Tier 3: 99.98% uptime, 1.6 hours of downtime per year, N+1 fault-tolerant.
- Tier 4: 99.99% uptime, 26.3 minutes of downtime annually, 2N+1 fully redundant infrastructure.
Before choosing a dedicated server, you need to look for its features regarding access to data, power supply, building, fire protection, hardware, data privacy, and security in general.
Types of Server
You can choose from the following types of servers for your firm:
- File Transfer Protocol servers: Through FTP servers, the users can transfer data files from the computer to a server and vice-versa.
- Proxy servers: A connection between a client and an external server is established through proxy servers.
- Application servers: Application Servers are responsible for establishing a connection between database servers and the end-users.
- Web servers display websites on a browser and hold website files. Whenever a website is opened on a browser, web servers are responsible for that.
- Communication servers: Communication servers are responsible for handling numerous communications-based applications.
- Print servers: Print servers manage print requests and provide printer queue status information to end-users and network administrators.
Why Do You Need a Server for Your Business?
A server can be used for various purposes, but you should consider why your company requires a server. What are the tasks that your business will be performing which will require a server? To answer this, you need to know what a server can do.
A server is a remote computer connected to the Internet via gigabit ethernet. It is constantly running and is generally housed in a server data center. It hosts various services and applications to accomplish a firm’s business goals. Some of those services are mentioned below:
- File sharing
- Cloud storage
- Hosting a website or eCommerce store
- Secure email hosting
- Hosting SaaS apps, such as invoice management, employee management, customer relationship management, and software planning and collaboration
- Backing-up company data on the server
- Supporting multiple virtual users
- Providing virtual desktops to employees
- Storing and collaborating on documents
A small business server can easily perform all these tasks, along with many other tasks. All these services can be simultaneously powered by a powerful server, although it is better to split functions between many smaller servers rather than using one server for everything.
How to Choose the Best Server?
Now that you know all the nitty-gritty regarding what a good server should offer, it’s time to know how to choose the best server for your business.
Step 1: Research the Specifications of Servers Based on your Needs
There are two different ways to determine which processor, hard drive, and RAM requirements you should opt for when setting up a server for your company:
- Make a list of all the applications you need to run on the server to fulfill your business goals, and think roughly how many users will need access to each application.After making this list, visit Google and look for information and advice on how many resources available to the server each application on your list will need. You will have to research separately for each application and add at least a 20% buffer to account for spikes in resource usage.
- There is another way to conduct this research. After you have made the list of the applications that you are planning to run on your server, you can book a consultation with any of the server experts available online who will talk you through the best server options for you.Professional experts can provide sound advice and save you a lot of your precious time.
Step 2: Determine the Best Server Location for your Firm
When you are setting up the server for your company office, you have two options regarding the location:
- Either set up a server that will be housed in your office; or
- Host a cloud-based server.
You will have to decide which one suits your company the best and choose one depending on the advantages and disadvantages of each, which are summed up as follows:
Server set up in your office:
|A one-time cost of hardware.||Requires a lot of electric power constantly.|
|It may save you some money in the long term.||Replacing the hardware can be costly.|
|Cooling the server can be expensive as well.|
|The responsibility of maintenance rests on the IT department of your company.|
|Not good enough security is on-site.|
|Hardware needs to be updated in short periods of time.|
|Absence of redundant power or network.|
|No 24×7 support.|
|The speed is generally less than 1GBps.|
|The hardware can be upgraded anytime, and the latest hardware is always available.||Monthly subscription fees.|
|24×7 expert support.||The server is not physically accessible.|
|No extra costs for electrically powering the server or for cooling it.|
|Redundant power and network connections.|
|Availability of 24×7 security.|
Step 3: Calculate your Server Budget
As mentioned before, an important consideration is how much you can afford when setting up a server for your business needs. Here is a summary of the costs you may have to endure for servers.
A cheaper server should cost you less than $100 per month when renting space in a data center or less than $500 when purchasing one. The price of an expensive server is generally more than $100 per month when renting and around $1500-$2000 when buying.
Step 4: Choose your Server Type
There are 2 main types of servers are suitable for a small business, Hybrid and Dedicated. So, after you have chosen your server environment, you need to select the server type.
1. Hybrid Servers
The hybrid server is a dedicated server that is shared among a few users, and each of these users has their own isolated operating system environment. It is best for fewer and less powerful applications. It is affordable, making it a good choice for startups. You will have to share it with other users, and you cannot just use it yourself.
2. Dedicated Servers
The dedicated server is a single physical server dedicated to one client and is known for delivering high performance. It allows the usage of critical applications and provides its users with many resources.
The environment of dedicated servers is only for you, and you do not have to share it with other users. However, it might prove to be much more expensive than other options.
Step 5: Order your Server and Set it Up.
Since now you have gained a deep understanding of various servers, server environments, and what type of it will work for you, you should be able to decide on what server to choose. This means that you are ready to order a server for your company.
If you have opted for the physical server, you must order the server and all required components, such as RAM and hard drives. You must do it as soon as possible because it can take days or weeks for all components to arrive.
If you buy a server hosted in a data center, you need to go online and search for your local and regional data centers. You can contact these data centers and rent a dedicated server after the data center meets all your needs.
Lastly, if you choose a cloud-based server, many cloud providers are available online, like Microsoft Azure and Amazon AWS. You can visit their respective websites and purchase a server per your business’s needs.
3 Best On-site Servers
We have created a list of the three best on-site server choices for you to make it even easier to select an ideal server for your business.
1. Dell PowerEdge T30
- CPU: Intel Xeon E3-1225 v5
- Graphics: Intel HD Graphics P530
- RAM: 64GB
- Storage: Up to 6 SATA HDDs
- Connectivity: 10 USB ports, DisplayPort, HDMI, VGA, PS2, serial, Gigabit Ethernet
- Dimensions (W x D x H): 17.5 x 43.5 x 36cm
- High-speed quad-core Xeon processor.
- Space for six internal disks.
- Only 1 Gigabit network port is available.
- Hot-swapping of disks is not allowed.
2. Lenovo ThinkServer TS150
- CPU: Intel Xeon E3-1200 v6
- RAM: Up to 64GB
- Storage: Up to 40TB HDD
- Connectivity: 8 USB 3.0 ports, serial, 2 x DisplayPort, audio, serial, Gigabit Ethernet
- Dimensions (W x D x H): 17.5 x 37.5 x 43cm
- Cheapest among all the ThinkServer models.
- Produces little noise.
- No big disadvantage.
3. HPE ProLiant MicroServer Gen8
- CPU: Intel Celeron G1610T
- Graphics: Matrox G200
- RAM: 4GB
- Storage: No drives included
- Connectivity: 4 x USB 2.0, 2 x USB 3.0, VGA, 2 x Gigabit Ethernet
- Dimensions (W x D x H): 23 x 24.5 x 23cm
- High-quality hardware and easy to access.
- Compact size.
- Unavailability of hot-swap disks.
- A little bit noisy.
3 Best Cloud-based Servers
1. HostGator Web Hosting
HostGator is an easy-to-use and user-friendly web hosting server that offers various valuable business plans.
- Offers numerous feature-packed hosting plans.
- Delivers excellent shared hosting services.
- A great choice for small businesses.
- Reliable customer service.
- Does not offer Windows-based VPS hosting.
2. A2 Web Hosting
With a strong foundation, A2 Web Hosting provides excellent features as a part of its hosting plans. It is ideal for users who are heavy users of WordPress.
- Robust hosting packages, particularly WordPress.
- Great customer service.
- Excellent uptime.
- Money-back refund policy on plans.
- Quite more expensive than other options.
- No options for the Windows server.
3. AccuWeb Hosting
AccuWeb Hosting has affordable plans with a good set of features, like great uptime and great customer service along with an option for Windows Server.
- Excellent uptime.
- Allows users to choose between Linux and Windows servers.
- Great customer service.
- Reasonably-priced plans.
- Unlimited email with Windows accounts not enabled.
- Does not have monthly shared hosting plans.
Selecting a server for your own company can be arduous because there are many types of servers and many options for each type. Hence, we hope that this guide has proved to be extremely useful to you, and now you know exactly how you can choose the best server for the needs of your business.
You need to remember that buying an expensive server may seem like overspending, but it can save you a lot of money in the long term.
Frequently Asked Questions
Question: What do you mean by dedicated server hosting?
Answer: A dedicated server or a managed hosting service is a kind of web hosting that allows the client to lease the entire server for themselves and not share it with anyone else. It allows more customization and flexibility than shared hosting, as your company will have full authoritative control over the server.
Question: Does dedicated server hosting mean I am the server’s owner?
Answer: The answer is yes. You can access the server of your company at its root level. All you need to do is contact the hosting provider and request access.
Question 3: What makes a server powerful?
Answer: Processors make a server powerful. More processors make the server faster and more efficient. With multiple processors, more instructions can be executed concurrently. This means the CPU can do more in the same amount of time.
Question 4: Is more RAM better for a server?
Answer: Yes, more memory makes a server handle more load. This eventually leads to better overall speed and website performance.
Question 5: What kind of RAM is used in servers?
Answer: Dynamic RAM (DRAM) and static RAM (SRAM) are the two major types of RAM (SRAM) used in servers. DRAM type is the most common type of RAM used in servers. To maintain data, the DRAM must be refreshed regularly.
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