The ability of a business to thrive relies heavily on the technology it invests in. That’s particularly true of servers, where a wise choice will play a key role in growth and a poor choice can prove a crippling drain on resources and a major risk to the successful running of your company.
Cloud versus in-house is the first question any business should consider, but if you’ve done your homework and decided an in-house solution will work best, we’ve put a few pointers together to help you ask the right questions of your provider.
Make functionality your number one concern. The server should be able to meet your business needs and then some. Be sure to review every business area and take account of their end-to-end requirements as top-up solutions and add-ons will muddy your infrastructure solution and cost more longer-term.
Your server should support business growth, so choosing an option that can scale up as your business develops and that fits into your IT roadmap makes sense operationally and financially.
If your business is already up and running and you have an existing server in place, run some cost-benefit analysis to see whether integrating new and existing systems is a viable option for you.
Any new hardware or software purchases should be made with the intention of building on what you’ve already invested in.
- Rent or buy
The question around renting or buying often circles back to functionality. Renting can help avoid some of the headaches associated with server maintenance, but it can also limit capability, so make sure the benefits aren’t outweighed by any kind of service cap.
Likewise, if buying feels like the way to go, make sure you understand what it will take to support and maintain it, whether in-house or by using outsourced IT support, as that will need to be budgeted for too.
Once you have a clear understanding of what you have, what you need and how much room you want to grow, you’ll be better placed to get quotes for hardware that matches your unique specification, and avoid paying for functionality you don’t need or won’t use.
Servers are pretty fussy about where they’re housed. They need a secure or protected space with fixed environmental controls, so make sure you have the office space you need when you’re shopping around.
A physical server comes with lots of hardware considerations, such as whether your existing infrastructure is capable of powering it.
Ongoing maintenance is important too. A server sits at the heart of any business operation, so its upkeep, including regular upgrades and patches, scheduled downtime, business continuity and disaster recovery all need to be supported with management processes.
Do your homework around which operating system you’re best working on and what (if any) additional software requirements you have.
Servers don’t have to be expensive, but it’s important to have a full appreciation of the total cost, before you make any decisions, otherwise the business could quickly find itself over budget, before you even get started.
One of the primary functions of a server is to ensure data protection, so be very clear about the devices used across the business, the kind of information they exchange and what data you need to be able to share, store, protect, update and even purge.
Data security isn’t just good practice, it’s a legal requirement in many sectors, so careful planning, ongoing support and documented compliance may be required to ensure your business stays on the right side of legislation.
Technical support may be the most important factor of all when to comes to hosting your server. That starts with a dedicated owner, so it’s clear from day-one who is making the server’s business readiness their priority.
It will undoubtedly rely on expert technical support at some stage too, so it’s important to know up-front about how much in-house knowledge and expertise you have and be realistic about where you may need to employ outsourced help from a virtual CIO in the future.
Employing an IT service provider to manage your server or wider IT infrastructure might be a viable option, if a service helpdesk, on-tap expertise and troubleshooting resource is something your business could benefit from.
When a server is working as it should, most people in the business won’t even know it’s there, it’s only when they fall over that everyone’s working world can come to a standstill.
Many businesses, particularly smaller agencies, live and die by the performance of their servers. That’s why choosing the right server and the appropriate configuration is so important.
Servers should be reliable, secure, efficient, scalable and cost-effective. They’re key to a business’s success, but are not everyone’s forte, so if you need help deciding on the best fit for your operation, don’t be scared to ask for an expert opinion from an IT consulting service.
In this instance, a little help could go a very long way.
Find out how pebble.it can help you make the right IT decisions for your business by getting in touch with us, and learn about the role IT can play as an investment in your organisation by downloading our eBook on The Role Of IT In Your Growing Agency.