Considering buying a server for your business? Before computers became so powerful and remote work became so popular, most businesses had at least one physical server in their offices – and sometimes even a dedicated server room.
Today, when you only have a handful of employees, it’s easy enough to share folders and files on a few PCs. But as your business grows, security, speed and reliability become more important. That’s often when it makes sense to invest in business servers.
Is it time to buy a server?
Here are a few questions we ask our clients when they ‘re experiencing business growth and considering expanding their network environment:
- What are your business goals for buying a server?
- Are you running low on file storage or anticipate a need for more drive space?
- Are you in need of application servers or a database server to run business applications?
- Have your workload requirements increased?
- Do you need more computing power or more disk storage than you have today?
- Are you looking for better backup and recovery processes?
- Are you concerned about client confidentiality and sensitive data access?
- Do you have compliance / governance needs?
The more of these that you answer YES to, the more benefit you’ll get from buying a server.
What are the benefits of buying a server?
Servers are built to be faster and more reliable than PCs, but primarily, they help you enforce IT policies and run your business more smoothly with:
- Better data security with more granular levels of access
- Consistent backups with lower routine maintenance costs
- Company-wide patches and upgrades
- Corporate-level access permissions
5 Factors to consider when buying a server
- Price. We don’t know many companies with an unlimited budget. Physical servers start at about $2000 and can go up significantly from there, depending on the specifications. That price doesn’t include additional hardware components, power usage, or floor space needed – that’s just the initial cost for an entry level server. Business owners must also consider costs for power, maintenance costs, and other long-term costs. It’s important to factor in the total cost of ownership instead of looking at just the upfront cost. We recommend finding a server that will meet your needs for the next 3-5 years, without overspending on features you don’t really need. Of course, if you choose a cloud-based server instead, you’ll avoid most of these upfront costs for server hardware and software. Those costs are bundled into the cloud services.
- Features. Before you buy your first server, know what the server will be used for: File storage? E-mail services? To manage lots of user queries? That will help us create hardware specifications that define how much memory and hard drive space is needed. You’ll also want to make sure you have an operating system (OS) that’s compatible with your network environment and with the software applications you intend to use. While we can’t make blanket recommendations in an article, we can recommend you request a Server Assessment. If you need to run multiple operating systems, you may consider using virtual machines or virtual servers on top of your servers. See our article about virtual servers for more information.
- Reliability and availability of cloud servers. Rather than having hardware on-site in your office, many businesses are opting for cloud servers hosted on Azure or Amazon. These servers work similarly to an on premises server, but you rent the server instead of owning it, and the cloud hosting provider promises to virtually eliminate server downtime. They take care of everything at the hardware level, but you still manage the software and all the applications inside of the box.
- Maintenance plans. Just like regular computers, servers need to be regularly updated, monitored and maintained. Even if you choose to go with a virtual server, you’re responsible for maintaining everything within the server walls – the software, databases, etc. Most companies choose to outsource this work to technology consulting companies (like ourselves) rather than hiring IT staff.
- Warranty / Service Level Agreement. If you buy server hardware, we recommend you get the 3-year extended warranty in case anything goes wrong. Cloud hosting providers provide uptime guarantee as part of their service level agreement.
Need help buying your first server?
Our staff of IT professionals are happy to help. A server evaluation usually takes about an hour of billable time, which (of course) varies based on the complexity of your business. That’s not much – especially when you consider that there’s NO obligation to buy the server from us or to use our services.
We continually hear from companies how either they wish they would have asked us first because they “got sold” way more technology than they needed, or they bought a server that didn’t meet their needs at all and then couldn’t return it.
We prefer happy customer stories when the customer is delighted they called us, and how we saved them time, money and endless headaches down the road.
If you want help buying a server, or just a better understanding of what you need, contact us today.
Frequently Asked Questions
Where to buy a server?
Eclipse can help you select the right server for your business needs. We can assist remotely in technology selection.
Can I buy my own server?
You can buy pre-built servers. However, you might not end up with the right hardware if you don’t know exactly what you need. It’s best to consult an IT professional if you’re unsure.
What server should I get for my small business?
Small businesses need different servers than a large corporation would. You don’t want to overpay for servers with bells and whistles you don’t need. Consult an IT professional if you need help selecting the right server.