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Small Business Servers

Small Business Servers are flexible

Small Business Servers need to be flexible in order to achieve your goals as a business, if your goal is to grow quickly then a server with the capacity to grow with you is central to avoiding unforeseen expenditure. If your goal as a business is to sustain growth organically, a stable platform to run your business on is of equal importance.

Small and Medium Business (SMB) servers don’t need to be expensive, and often small firms wish to run core or foundational technologies in order to run their operations well. Hayachi Services have worked with top-200 businesses which follow the same convention as below, because it works.

These servers are often:

  • Domain Controllers
  • File and Print Servers
  • Virtual Desktops
  • Application Servers (for developers)
The core thing as a small business is to keep infrastructure short and sweet: you do not need ‘heavy’ servers which run unnecessary workloads, you want consistent and reliable servers which specifically serve your needs.

Building Capacity for Growing SMEs

There are huge amounts of data and information which businesses need to store and administer your IT workloads with, and this a growing problem which can be a perennial challenge to your operation if left alone.

Running lightweight servers ensures your business retains the capacity to grow without having to purchase new equipment just to continue operating every three years. Appropriate planning and direction spans the operating system, the hardware, and also the software used for your servers.

The most lightweight and stable operating systems in the world are Linux based, primarily Red Hat Enterprise Linux server which is even used to run some of the world’s fastest supercomputers with. 90% of the Fortune500 used Red Hat for their most critical workloads: their track-record for consistently high performance is beyond doubt and proven daily for those who are still not sure of its efficacy.

Server hardware historically costs more than a PC because they are expected to ‘do more’; with servers it is important to buy the right tool for the job, with sufficient storage space to not require extra parts too often and critically enough CPUs to run virtual systems (normally a server has two). 

Think hard about what you actually need to run and qualify the servers you buy on that basis. In order to ensure you get the best performance of your SMB servers you must first use an appropriate operating system with suitable hardware. Everything else follows this foundation.

The software you install on servers is the third element. Most organisations will either run a separate Application Server or bundle their business-critical workloads with a Virtual Desktop which people can remotely access. It is rare for organisations to run all-in-one servers because they can become a single-point of failure and very few businesses succeed having put all of their eggs in one basket.

Running Servers Efficiently

It is always unfortunate seeing businesses which want to get the most out of their servers instead being made to run unnecessary workloads, because it is convenient for the IT Service Provider or Managed Service Provider (MSP) and not the business at large.

Small business servers can be run incredibly efficiently, with the right expertise and direction.

The most effective way to operate servers is to virtualise them, this enables you to put a set of specific and defined requirements in a ‘bubble’ and enables your business to move these workloads around as needed.

You do want to avoid running ‘a thing’ and instead look at capabilities: by and large you should run an Application Server with lots of software instead of a single server to only run the one accounting software on.

In turn, virtualisation means your business runs a lightweight ‘Host’ server of which the virtual servers are the ‘Guest’. This allows you to readily move the ‘Guest’ servers around more flexibly and add to them if needed. Typically you run at least two ‘Host’ servers to avoid having downtime, this also lets you seamlessly upgrade them without downtime.

The use of unnecessary compute is incredibly important when it comes to your ‘Host’ servers: an MSP will often install the full-suite of tools a Windows Server can offer which is very unhelpful and results in the ‘Host’ server having less to offer any ‘Guest’ servers.

In order to avoid having too little butter spread over too much bread it is important to look at what the most efficient setup is, and to stick to it over a system’s lifecycle.

Small Business Servers and the Cloud

Many SMEs wish to make the most of a secure Cloud (you can read more on the subject here) especially to avoid additional costs as they grow. Cloud computing enables you to flex, to grow or reduce your footprint and expenditure as the need arises; with a Cloud you can scale-out as well as up or down.

It is the case that many Cloud providers will micro-price (charge for every little thing) and this can mean costs grow unexpectedly without direction and steady management. This is another reason why running a core suite of efficient servers is central for SMEs.

Being a Cloud-native business is the right way to go if you wish for your organisation to be able to benefit from the ability to scale-out your compute. There is a very high chance that your business already has elements of Cloud in your operation: email; accounting; project management; video conferencing and chat, these are often hosted by a third-party to your benefit.

Modern small business servers can talk to the Cloud in the much the same way other computers can, this should be approached cautiously as an opportunity with due regard for risks. The UK government has many sensitive programmes which are hosted by our partners, and secured by the NCSC who manage the risks involved. It is perfectly safe if approached with care.

You should also note that you can run your own Private Cloud (you can read more on the subject above) with the same view of building flexibility in your workloads if you want to retain absolute control over yours and customer data.

Where to find Small Business Servers

SMB servers are not uncommon and many of our larger customers will use them simply because of how flexible they can be. Knowing where to find servers is a core part of the equation, or rather: from whom.

Most vendors will tell you their servers are the best, or will try to sell you a system but tack-on professional services with the purchase to inflate the cost. Try not to buy from short-sighted vendors who would do you harm.

At Hayachi Services you may have noticed that we have our favourites, as every business does, but also that we are proudly vendor-neutral. While it is the case that Dell Technologies offer long-lasting and high-performing servers, there are many others who compete fiercely with them.

We highly recommend looking at the workload which you wish to run and the System Requirements for these, such as for Windows Server Core or Red Hat Enterprise Linux.

Once you have noted these you can search for the relevant SMB server with you preferred vendor, although it helps to have an idea of what you want.

The primary vendors of SMB servers in the UK are:

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