Your Guide to Buying a Server: Entry-Level Servers vs. Enterprise Servers
As your small business grows, you’ll likely hit the point where you realize you’re ready to add a server to your business environment. Maybe you started out with a cloud server, but as your staff grows — and the amount of data you use increases — it makes sense to add some sort of in-house server infrastructure.
As you begin looking at options, it’s natural to immediately start basing decisions on your budget, but before you go too far down that road, ask yourself what you want the server to accomplish. Establishing what you need from your server is the first step toward determining what kind of server will be best for you.
Buying a Server Guide: Where Do I Start?
Most businesses need a server to take on more than one task; think about what those tasks will be.
They could include things such as:
- Hosting a website or eCommerce store
- Running shared software
- Supporting multiple virtual servers
- Providing database services to other servers
- Controlling shared peripheral equipment (such as a printer)
- Providing secure email hosting
These are just a few examples of the tasks you might need from your server. Sit down and determine exactly what you need it to do before you make a purchase. Think not only about what you need the server to do today, but also about what your business will need three to five years from now.
Many businesses worry about purchasing more than they need, but you don’t want to outgrow your infrastructure before the equipment reaches its end of life. Running out of storage, for example, could force you to buy a second machine — a much costlier option than buying a single larger machine that will give your data room to grow.
Entry-Level or Enterprise?
There’s no one-size-fits-all answer when it comes to choosing a business server. Entry-level machines may perfectly fit the bill for some organizations. Others may need more versatile and powerful enterprise servers. Let’s look at some of the key differentiators between those two options.
Entry-level servers have a lower price point, but don’t have as many options and features as enterprise servers. They can, however, still provide many rich features such as effective information sharing, data security and storage, remote access for mobile users and centralized backup. Even an entry-level server will give you a more robust infrastructure and improved employee efficiency vs. not having a server at all.
Aventis Systems has several entry-level server options for your small business, including:
However, entry-level servers do come with some drawbacks. One drawback is that entry-level servers have a single power supply. That means the power is not redundant, and you are more susceptible to down time due to power outages. With a redundant power supply, two or more power sources are used to run a single piece of equipment, with each having the capability to operate the device on its own. If one source is powered off, the other will automatically provide full power and keep operations running. If your needs are more complex and require redundancy features (such as RAID), or if you are managing very large data sets, you might be better off looking at an enterprise server.
One of the biggest advantages of an enterprise system is that it has hot-swappable parts. That means its components can be removed and installed without having to power down the entire system or interrupting any of the system’s actions. Some of the most important components in an enterprise-level server are hot-swappable like the fan trays, power supplies and hard drives. This is an important feature for businesses that need 24/7 availability and cannot afford to power down the system to change out components.
Consider the following enterprise server options for your growing business:
Comparing the specific features of an entry-level server with an enterprise-level server can help you determine which one meets the criteria you’ve outlined as essential to your operations.
What Form Factor Do You Need?
Another consideration that goes into buying a server is the form factor. Servers come in one of three basic physical forms: tower, blade and rackmount. While they carry essentially the same components and provide the same function, they have different space requirements. Knowing what your physical space allows becomes an important part of the decision. Here’s how the three compare:
- Tower: A tower server looks similar to a desktop computer, but the components inside are different. Tower servers come in different sizes and shapes, so you have some options when it comes to finding one that best fits in your environment. They make good first servers because they don’t require additional purchases such as mounting hardware or server rack. However, they do take up more space than blade or rack servers, so if you might need to add servers in the future, consider how much space you have allocated.
- Blade: Blades are the most efficient type of server in terms of space and power and are normally leveraged by enterprise organizations with existing server rack space. They are more expensive than tower and rackmount servers and can be difficult to keep cool without a dedicated cooling system. If you’re planning to grow your server environment with a blade server, you’ll need to consider how it’s going to be cooled.
- Rackmount: Like blades, a rackmount server needs to be installed into a server rack. The rack can hold multiple servers in its slots, so this is a popular choice when several servers must be consolidated into a compact space.
In most cases, entry-level servers will be either tower or rack servers. Blade and rack servers, particularly 2U rack servers, are most common for enterprise-level servers.
Find the Server That’s Right for You
Selecting the right server involves assessing your current needs and planning for your future growth. Call us at 1.855.AVENTIS or visit our site for a live chat with an IT expert to
help identify your server needs or even build a server that’s right for you!