Everyday Infiniwiz Answers Tough Technology Questions For Businesses Across The Chicagoland Region.

Today’s question comes from Mike. Mike is a business owner in Rolling Meadows who asks “Why do I need a server?”

Dimitri and I get phone calls like this sometimes. The business owner knows he/she has to step up their technology game but is hesitant to move from their peer to peer network to a server-client network. Often the hesitancy is the cost of a server and the added complexity of maintaining and managing a more complex system. Stick around, and we’ll answer the following questions:

  • What is a server?
  • How does a server differ from a workstation?
  • Why do I need a $3,000 server instead of just a $600 workstation acting as a server?
  • How many employees should I have before I consider a server?
  • What advantages does a server give you?

Why Do I Need to Invest in Server Infrastructure Instead of Using a Workstation to Do a Server’s Job?

The other day, a Chicagoland business owner gave us a call.

His question?

Well, he had lots of questions, but the biggest one was, “How do I scale my system cost-effectively?”

The problem?

He was at that tipping point…

You know, the point at which a business owner has to decide, “Am I going to invest in infrastructure that will help me scale my business or am I going to allow lack of investment to stifle growth?”

At the point, he called us, Dave (let’s call him Dave) was in “make do” mode.

Sure, Dave wanted his business to grow, but he wanted to skate by with the bare minimum.

His second question to us was, “Why do I need a server? Isn’t a workstation basically the same thing?”

We answered Dave’s question by asking and answering some questions that are essential to this topic.

What is a server?

People have varying ideas that pop into their minds when they hear the word, “server.”

  • Some think of a piece of hardware that sits in a closet with lots of blinking lights and wires.
  • Some think of an operating system that supports server functionality.
  • Some think of software that allows a server to perform specific tasks.
  • Some think of a virtualized machine that has the operating system and software required to function as a server.

So what is a server?

In its most basic form, a server is a machine – either real or virtual – that serves data to and stores data from other computers and mobile devices across a Wide Area Network, Local Area Network, or a Wireless Network.

What are the three main kinds of servers?

  • File Servers – Offices use these servers to save, backup, and retrieve data.
  • Email Servers – People use these servers every day to send and receive their email.
  • Web Servers – Companies use these servers to serve web pages to the computers that request those pages over the internet or company intranet.

How does a server differ from a workstation?

Workstations are pieces of hardware that are designed to run an operating system that supports user-side software and applications. Servers are built with more ram, faster hard drives, redundancy, and reliability than workstations. Servers are intended to run 24/7/365 and are built to specifications to meet that always-on demand.

Can a workstation operate as a server?

There are many workstations that have the specifications needed to run server software and can function as a server. However, because the machine wasn’t built for this purpose, it’s a poor solution. Companies that are at the stage where a server would be helpful need to invest in a server instead of asking a workstation to do the difficult job of functioning at a higher level than it was designed to handle.

Why do I need a $3,000 server instead of just a $600 workstation acting as a server? What advantages does a server give my business?

  • A server allows for greater security.
  • A server provides capacity for easier workstation management.
  • A server allows you to run more powerful apps.
  • A server gives you more control with role-based access and updates pushed from the server out to the workstations.
  • A server allows you to use networked applications.
  • A server has more memory and computing power than a workstation computer.
  • A server improves your file sharing and data storage.
  • A server provides you with higher reliability.
  • A server allows you to use a centralized backup strategy.

How many employees should I have before I consider a server?

Generally, when your business hits seven full-time employees that use a computer all day – or the equivalent of seven full-time employees – it’s time to get a server. When you hit ten full-time employees or the equivalent, the advantages of having a server become even more significant.

Some Final Thoughts From Your Chicago Server Support Team At Infiniwiz

Servers are more durable and powerful hardware than a workstation. Why? Because servers are purpose-built for their task. Servers have a better warranty than workstations and are less likely to fail. When they do fail, many have redundant hardware – such as power supply or hard drive – that allows them to retain the data you have entrusted to them and even keep functioning until repairs can be implemented.

Software is the other consideration. Regular workstations run Windows 10. Server operating systems allow you to run virtual machines and run the server as a Domain Controller, File Server, Print Server, etc. Domain Name Servers have the ability to create user’s set-up security access for files and folders – providing or restricting access to data as required.

Are you at a pivotal growth stage with your business and the supporting technology?

The Infiniwiz team would be happy to walk you through the options and provide you with the insight you need to make an informed decision about the next steps in the technology pathway for your company’s growth. Pick up the phone, and we can have a no-obligation conversation about your needs and goals.

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