Got Server Problems? Four Ways to Solve Them Quickly
At some point in their growth, most small businesses reach a point when they need a server as part of their IT solution. Networks of a certain size need a domain controller to handle logins and permissions and spool print files. You may also need to run a variety of applications on a server such as a Microsoft Small Business Server to run Exchange email and calendars, a server to store shared files, or a server for your accounting and billing systems.
Servers and the software that runs on them are more expensive than the average desktop PC and it takes a certain expertise to operate them. As a result, when you reach this point in your business you’re probably paying in-house IT staff or writing some pretty healthy checks to consultants (or both) to keep it all running. This costs money, of course, and doesn’t add directly to your bottom line.
Like any computer system, a server eventually breaks or needs updates to continue functioning. When server problems crop up, it may be a good time to reassess and look at new ways of doing things. To that end, let’s look at four solutions that can help make server problems go away:
- Fix it the old fashioned way. If you have in-house IT staff with the necessary know-how, time and experience you can fix many server problems with an investment in time (money) and money. If you don’t you can hire an external consultant (for a lot of money) to come and troubleshoot your issues. Just don’t be too surprised when either one suggests to you that the only way to fix the issue is a “forklift upgrade” in which you end up replacing the entire thing with a new shiny box.
- Switched to a managed server service.If you lack internal IT resources, or if they’re already overtaxed with tasks like supporting user workstations, you may want to consider a managed server service. With this service, your managed service provider will keep your server up to date and safe from viruses as well as providing remote problem resolution and support all for an affordable monthly fee.
- Virtualize it. If fixing your server problems is not an option, replacing it with a virtual server may be a wise choice. Like so many things in the IT world, it turns out that servers are more economical with scale. A virtual server is a slice of a larger server at your managed service provider’s data center. By renting a virtual server as opposed to buying your own, you not only avoid the up-front capital costs for hardware and software, but also avoid hidden costs for power, maintenance and obsolescence. This can significantly reduce your total cost of ownership. Not only are the costs lower, but managed virtual servers usually offer greater reliability. The data centers they are housed in are secure environments with redundant bandwidth, power and cooling so your virtual server is always available when you need it.
- Move your applications to the cloud. Some application specific servers like your email server or network storage appliance can be replaced with services that provide these features for a monthly fee per user or per gigabit. As with a virtual server, you can avoid much of the up-front hardware and software licensing, the power costs, and the maintenance costs. Even better though, these services generally allow you to buy only what you need, which may be far less than a full virtual server and software, especially if you’re a small business. Lastly, because these services are usually web-enabled, they can be much more accessible to road warriors and folks working from home than the servers housed on your internal network.