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Which Server Solution is Best for your Growing Business?

Which Server Solution is Best for your Growing Business?

Running a business is both exciting and challenging. Creating a product or service you can be proud of keeps the adrenaline flowing. In a business world that relies on safe, continuous access to large amounts of data, the use of servers is increasingly important.

For those not well-versed in technology, a simple definition of a 'server' is a good starting point.

A server is a computer or computer program that manages access to a centralized resource or service in a network. Without diving into too much detail, all businesses need access to a server to handle specific tasks related to data. While most people understand the term server as a web server, which hosts web pages accessible over the internet through a client like a web browser, there are several types of servers. These include local servers like file servers that store data within an intranet network. For instance, if you want to improve your business's email handling, a dedicated email server would be ideal. For businesses with large amounts of shared documents, a file-sharing server would be the best option.

Are you ready for a server?

In the past, icons like Alan Sugar and Richard Branson started with a couple of chairs around a kitchen table. A generation later, almost every business has some form of IT infrastructure. When it's just you and a couple of colleagues, managing the business with off-the-shelf accounting and project management software is feasible. But when a big client comes on board, your business might struggle with the increased demands, especially regarding your computer network. This is the time to consider a server, which can manage all your IT tasks while you focus on growing your business.

So which server should you choose?

You've decided you need a server, but which type is right for you? Any computer with the appropriate software can function as a server, but answering a few simple questions can help you choose the right one:

What will your server be used for? (email, file sharing, etc.)
Do you need remote access to your data?
How fast will your business grow?
What is your current financial situation?
How many staff members will need access to the new server?
A key question when choosing a server solution is whether to go for a cloud-based server or an on-premise server. Read on to explore both options.

To Cloud or Not to Cloud - that is the question!

There is no one-size-fits-all answer, as each business has different needs. Some businesses may start with an on-premise server and later migrate to a cloud server (or vice versa). This topic requires its own detailed discussion, but we'll cover the basics below.

On-premise Server: Full control and ownership but heavy up-front costs

Do you have space in your office to accommodate a physical server? In places like Kent, where space can be at a premium, this is especially relevant. On-premise servers require buying hardware up-front, which can be a significant financial burden. Typically, it takes three to five years to pay off the server and licenses, by which time the server may need replacing. Server hardware costs can range from £5,000 to £25,000, which might not be suitable for every business.

You'll also need to consider server backup (both on and off-site), a reliable internet source (to ensure continuous email flow, for example), and a dependable power supply. Without power, your server won't function.

Cloud-based Server: Scalable, flexible, and manageable monthly costs

A cloud-based server addresses many of the issues with on-premises servers and usually comes as an all-inclusive package. Cloud-based servers are stored in large, secure data centers with high-speed internet and uninterrupted power supplies, backed by generators.

Cloud-based servers are always scalable, meaning as your business grows and needs more resources (like disk space or additional memory), you can easily upgrade your server. Adjusting the specifications and scaling up your cloud server is typically a straightforward process.

More and more businesses are opting for cloud-based solutions for their main software and applications. This sector is rapidly growing, with major players investing heavily in cloud platforms. However, it's important to note that companies like Google, Microsoft, and Amazon offer Public Cloud solutions, which are accessible to the public. Alternatively, a Private Cloud is a cloud-based platform accessible only to specific businesses that choose a private cloud vendor, ensuring exclusive access to their cloud environment.

Choosing the right server solution, whether on-premise or cloud-based, depends on your business needs, growth projections, and financial situation. For those seeking IT support in Kent, understanding these options can help make an informed decision.

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