Congratulations! Your business has grown and you’re starting to think about building out your IT environment to handle more employees, contractors and data.
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, file permissions, speed and reliability become more important. That’s usually the time where business owners start to consider buying a server.
Is it time to buy your first server?
Here are a few questions we ask our clients:
- Do you have 5 or more employees?
- Do you have central files, databases and software you want to share access to?
- Do you want to create an IT infrastructure that can grow and scale with your business?
- Are you concerned about data processing speed and network availability?
- 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 these answers are YES, 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. They can help you enforce IT policies to implement:
- Better data security
- Consistent backups
- Company-wide patches and upgrades
- Corporate-level access permissions
What should you consider?
- Price. We don’t know many companies with an unlimited budget. On-premise servers start at about $2000 and can go up significantly from there, depending on its configuration. We recommend you buy a server that will meet your needs for the next 3-5 years, without overspending on features you don’t really need.
- Features. Before you buy your first server, you’ll want to have some idea about how much memory and hard drive space you’ll need. You’ll also want to make sure you have an operating system that’s compatible with the software programs you intend to use. While we can’t make blanket recommendations in an article, we can recommend you request a Server Assessment.
- On premise vs. cloud. Cloud computing is a trend that’s not going to slow down anytime soon. Rather than having a server on-site in your office, many businesses are opting for servers hosted on Azure or Amazon. These servers work similarly to a physical on-premise server, but you rent the server instead of owning it, and the cloud hosting provider will guarantee the up-time of the environment.
- Plans for upkeep. Just like your computers, your server will 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 an on-premise server, we recommend you get the 3-year extended warranty in case anything goes wrong. All cloud hosting providers will provide some sort of uptime guarantee. Ensure you understand what is covered under that service level agreement.
Want 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 bases 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.