Your company’s server is one of the most important parts of your technology infrastructure. Without a server, and one that is properly configured, your file sharing, Internet access, email, network management, printer sharing and the sharing of other resources will be at best a challenge or quite limited.
Servers make it very easy to centrally manage and protect your network. Every server is not the same, but most servers have a number of common features:
File sharing – you don’t want to have to share files via USB drive, emailing it to each other, or on a “peer to peer” network. This is network where each computer on the network acts as a server and you access each computer’s hard disk. If one computer is off, you won’t be able to access the contents on its hard disk.
Network security – a server is also an ideal tool for ensuing the right access is given to the right person for a particular set of files or folders.
Resource sharing – being able to share printers, scanners or other devices is important as well. Sure, everyone could have a low cost $300 printer on their desk, but maybe the $1,500 color copier should be shared amongst various users.
Internet access – Depending on your business policies you might restrict what web sites and/or times employees can access the Internet. Your server can help manage Internet access as well. There area number of good third party tools which can do this as well.
Remote access – Remote access to your server is critical as well. When traveling, it’s good to enable employees to access files on the server just as if they were in their office.
Which server is right for you?
Earlier this week Microsoft released pricing for is Windows Essential Server Solutions product line. This new line of products includes the existing, but updated Small Business Server, designed for businesses with up to 75 employees and the newer Windows Essential Business Server for businesses with up to 300 employees. You can get more details on this line here.
For comparison I had a look at Novell’s small business server suite and Network Integration’s server solutions (part of IBM).
Novell’s solution is $120 per user. So that’s $600 for a 5 user license. Network integration’s suite is the same – $599 for 5 users. Microsoft’s product is double the cost at $1,089 for Windows Small Business Server Standard.
When picking a server solution, you really want to look at what works best for YOUR business and your budget. You don’t want to be penny wise and pound foolish and on the other hand you want to make sure you save as much money as you can for as much quality as you can get.
Look for an upcoming article on the pros and cons of a Microsoft or non-Microsoft solution.