Small Business Moment-of-Truth #1: Servers vs. Workstations

Posted by John Cluzel on Tue, Nov 25th, 2014

For growing small businesses that are continuously adding employees to the team, there always comes a moment of truth: When do you switch from individual desktop workstations to a client/server network? (The “client” is a desktop machine connected to a server.) Of course, for those fortunate to have started a business with a pile of money it isn’t a concern – you build a server-based environment from the beginning. However, for those who’ve more or less bootstrapped it from the ground up, the moment of truth always arrives sooner or later.

Eventually, running a business with a half-dozen or more disconnected workstation users becomes impractical and even risky. Even with as few as three users, there are many good reasons to incorporate a dedicated server into your business computing environment. These reasons include:

  • Manageability – Unless you thoroughly enjoy going from machine to machine installing this, deleting that, and wondering who has what version of which application, you avoid the colossal headache of managing individual workstations. With a server, you can make changes on one machine and have them implemented across all of your workstations. Files are saved in one secure location rather than all over the office.
  • Reliability – When one of your workstation hard drives crashes, there’s a good chance that important data will be lost. Servers are built to avoid such scenarios: File backup is automatic; hard drives are mirrored should one fail; redundant power supplies are built-in; and multiple processors with a larger memory cache make file access faster.
  • Security – Internet service is routed through your server, which is in turn equipped to recognize and destroy suspicious software and intercept other attacks. Workstations do not offer this level of protection.

There are many other differences between a desktop workstation and a file server. In some ways, the server is a repository that holds all your data. It manages, stores, processes, and then “serves” it up or sends it over the network when requested. To manage that function securely, reliably, and quickly, it has a different operating system than the workstations. Even if both are running Windows, the server is running a Window Server OS while your workstation is running a Windows computer OS.

Some cost-conscious business owners may try and cut corners by installing a server OS and resources on a desktop machine. However, this cuts reliability off at the knees by eliminating the redundant power supply, mirrored hard drives, and more powerful processing required to manage files. If you’re going to realize the benefit of a server, you’re going to need a real server.

IBM’s line of entry-level servers are famous for reliability, security, flexibility and scalability. Your server needs to be the baseline for growing your computing environment; it’s not an area for cutting corners. When you work with Daragon Software, you’ll get the resources you need to choose the right server and have it deployed properly in your business.

To learn more about the benefits that server-based computing and IBM offers your SMB, please contact Daragon Software for a free consultation today.