November 15, 2012
Niles Nerd

What is a Server?

Photo courtesy freedigitalphotos.net

Inevitably, every small business owner sooner or later hears or believes that “we need a server”. This begs the question of what a server really is.
What does it do?
Why do you need it?
When is it time for a server?
Where should it be? In the cloud? In the office? At home?
How should I get one? Buy? Lease? Rent by the hour in the cloud?
These are all good questions, but perhaps it’s easier to simply look at features and benefits of a modern-day server. As a business owner, selecting from the features your business needs today probably makes more sense as a starting place:

Feature Benefit
Small Business Gateway Internet Access is a given. Gateways can help with Quality of Service, and that ensures that your Skype calls work better. They can filter unwanted content such as blocking unwanted websites and malware-infected links. A server that does only a small subset of these types of tasks is also called a router.
Reliable File Server When you need more than one person running QuickBooks or Simply Accounting at the same time, a server is what makes this possible. A server also provides improved business continuity. In the event of a laptop or desktop failure, having complete backups on a server can help you get back up and running quickly.
Smarter Network A smarter network may include your own private “cloud”, which allows remote access to such things as security cameras, and improves the quality of Skype and other VoIP solutions.
VPN A VPN allows you to virtually be in your office even when you are physically elsewhere. Additionally, when connecting to your office via a public wireless network, a VPN makes sure the connection is encrypted and safe.

Servers come in all shapes and sizes. They tend to get physically bigger in size when more features are used by more of your team members. Sometimes more than one server is required, and sometimes those servers can be virtually living in the same box.
The great news is that recently hardware and software has become available in the form of a monthly ‘pay as you go’ service. As a business owner this means:

  • No capital expenditures
  • No long-term commitments
  • Microsoft Office and other licensing available on a month-to-month basis
  • Lots of free software available

Fundamentally, technology should not cost your business any money. If the Return on Investment is not obvious or cannot easily be calculated, it’s not likely you need the technology.
It’s our passion to make sure that this is what technology means to you: Pleasure, Productivity and Profitability.