9 Things Small Business Owners Need To Know When Talking To The IT Guy

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1 9 Things Small Business Owners Need To Know When Talking To The IT Guy By

2 The world of IT can be a bewildering and scary place for the non-technical business owner, where the IT guy talks in some foreign language, and just when you think you have a handle on things they change! Fenton IT have produced this e-book to answer the most frequently asked questions from small business owners, in plain English, and so you can understand why you may need a new server or a software upgrade, and how to go about it. Copyright 2010 Fenton IT. All rights reserved. 2

3 Q1. What is the difference between my desktop PC and a server? A server is like a supercharged desktop PC that s been specifically designed to hold, manage, send, and process data, usually for multiple users or computers. This means that the technology behind servers: Makes them more reliable than desktop systems Helps them process data faster and more efficiently Is preconfigured to support data backups and security Reduces data bottlenecks so information flows more freely and quickly Is designed to scale as your business needs scale Desktop systems are optimised to run user-friendly operating systems, desktop applications, and facilitate other office tasks. Server systems are designed to serve the requirements of multiple users and computers. Even if a desktop had the same processor speed, memory, and hard disk space as a server, the machines wouldn t be the same because the technologies behind them are engineered for different use. Copyright 2010 Fenton IT. All rights reserved. 3

4 Q2. How do I know when it s time to upgrade to a server? If your office only has two staff members who share files across networked computers, surf the web, or send e- mail, you may not require a server. However, once you have three or more employees working together on a network, a server can provide a central location for your important files, shared applications, and other resources. If you have more than one of the requirements below then it s likely your business would benefit from upgrading to a server based network: You have two or more computers in your business that you need to connect You need to save money by sharing equipment and resources such as printers, fax machines, and Internet connectivity You need to protect your business information and your network from unauthorized user You need to back up information You need to restore accidentally deleted files or previous versions of files You need to access company information and resources while away from the office You need to store, access, and share information in one central location You need to manage different versions of files You need to easily schedule group meetings and communicate efficiently with colleagues You need to use a tool to share ideas and information with your colleagues You need to present a professional image by hosting your own Web site and system You want all staff to be able to access and share documents on a Intranet You'd like to run accounting software or other line-of-business applications on more than one PC Copyright 2010 Fenton IT. All rights reserved. 4

5 Q3. How long will a server last before it needs replacing? This is a difficult question to answer as it really depends on the requirement changes of your business, but if you purchase a medium to high specification server and your staff and business demands haven t increased too dramatically, you should expect a server from a manufacturer such as Dell, HP or IBM etc to last a minimum of 3 years. Manufacturer hardware warranties generally come as 1 Year as standard, and these can usually be upgraded at the time of purchase, or when they expire, to 3 or 5 Years extended warranty. When purchasing a server, the warranty details should always be checked and the renewal date monitored, servers can often be difficult to replace in a hurry, and expensive and time-consuming to rebuild. Copyright 2010 Fenton IT. All rights reserved. 5

6 Q4. Do we need more than one server? Depending on the size, location and technical requirements of your business, as well as the age and specification of the server, you generally should only need one server. If your business has less than 75 employees, is based at one location and does not require a dedicated web, database or application server, then a single good specification server running an operating system such as Microsoft s Small Business Server 2008 will be enough to manage your requirements. Copyright 2010 Fenton IT. All rights reserved. 6

7 Q5. What specifications should I be looking for when purchasing a server? Server specifications are commonly referred to as low, medium or high specification. These categorisations are generally referring to the main performance components inside a computer, such as the processor and memory RAM. They are also referring to the speed and size of its hard drives (these are what decide how much data can be stored on the server) and its chassis or case (which determines whether a server can have future upgrades). Obviously the faster the processor, larger the memory, bigger, faster the hard drives and more expandable the case the higher the specification of the server. Technical specifications are constantly changing and currently the rough definition of a low specification server that is designed for small business use, would be a machine with an Intel Xeon processor and anywhere between 2-8GB RAM, a medium specification may have 2 Xeon processors with anywhere between 8 and 16GB RAM and a high specification server would likely have multiple multi-core Xeon processor s with anywhere between 16GB and 96GB RAM. The specifications of a new server purchase should not only depend on the current requirements and size of your business but also on the future growth of your business and expectations of the server. The operating system purchased with a server is another spec consideration and is usually dependent on size and technical demands of your business, as detailed in the next FAQ. Before purchasing a server, it s important to consult with the manufacturer or an IT specialist to ensure the correct purchase is being made for your requirements. As a rule of thumb, we always advise customers to purchase a server with a specification that includes a RAID card (these offer fault tolerance in the event of disk failures) and a professional backup solution. Copyright 2010 Fenton IT. All rights reserved. 7

8 Q6. What operating system should we have installed on our server? Microsoft has released a range of server operating systems designed for different sized companies and diverse technical requirements. The main operating systems designed for small medium sized businesses are; Windows Server 2008 R2 Foundation This is Microsoft s entry level operating system for running business applications and sharing information and resources. This operating system only supports up to 15 users, it doesn t offer the features of SBS, such as Exchange and WSUS but is affordable and simple to install and use. Windows Small Business Server 2008 This is an all in one server solution for up to 75 users, it offers better data security and enhanced productivity. Small Business Server comes in 2 editions; Standard and Premium, both offer Exchange 2007, SharePoint services 3, Windows Server Update Services and Forefront security for Exchange server. The Premium edition also comes with SQL Copyright 2010 Fenton IT. All rights reserved. 8

9 Windows Essential Business Server 2008 This solution also comes in 2 editions; standard and premium (premium also offers SQL server 2008). It s designed and priced for midsized businesses, it helps improve IT manageability and reliability, and helps boost business productivity and growth. These operating systems allows up to 300 users. Windows Server 2008 R2 Standard This is an advanced operating system with built in virtualization capabilities for increased productivity, reliability and security. This operating system is designed for mid large sized businesses and is capable of unlimited users. We generally advise all customers with a need for a server and less than 75 staff to opt for Small Business Server It s great value for money and offers all of the professional business solutions you would expect from a the IT infra-structure of a mid large sized organisation. Copyright 2010 Fenton IT. All rights reserved. 9

10 Q7. What are the key benefits of using a server? The installation of a server brings a wide range of benefits to a business, these benefits include; Centralised storage - Data and s are kept on one machine, allowing easy access to information Security Access to information can be controlled with fully customised security permissions on files and folders Backups All important data is stored in one place, allowing disaster recovery backups to take place Remote working Secure access can be achieved from home or anywhere in the world with an Internet connection Reliability Server hardware and software is highly robust, offering constant 24/7 access Scalability Servers grow with the demands of a business, software and hardware can easily be upgraded when required Enhanced communication Sharing information across computer systems becomes quick and easy, allowing the ability for staff to view and amend each other s calendars, contacts and to share data and faxes from PC desktops Cost efficiency Expensive software and hardware such as printers and scanners can be shared from a server, saving the cost of multiple devices or licenses Copyright 2010 Fenton IT. All rights reserved. 10

11 Q8. How much is it likely to cost? The cost of a server is dependent on its brand and specifications. You should be able to source a good low specification server from a leading manufacture such as Dell, HP or IBM for around ex VAT; a good medium specification server can be obtained for around ; and a high specification server can range from anywhere from 1400 upwards. Note that these prices are based on the servers having an extended 3 Yrs. warranty cover, but do not include the cost of an operating system or backup solution. Operating systems range in price and usually work out cheaper if purchased with the server. Another cost consideration when purchasing a server is licensing; these are called CAL s (Client Access Licenses). A CAL is a kind of software license that legally permits client computers to connect to Microsoft server software. They usually come in packs of 5 and are sold as either user or device licenses, if you have more users than devices it s best to choose device CAL s and if more devices, then purchase user CAL s. Copyright 2010 Fenton IT. All rights reserved. 11

12 Q9. Who should I get to install a server? Once a server has been purchased with warranty cover, it needs to be installed on your network with all the existing data, applications and configurations being migrated into the new server environment. To ensure this is performed correctly from the start and to avoid future problems, we recommend it be carried out by an IT professional, ideally a company with a Microsoft accreditation, such as MCITP, MCSE, MCSA, SBSC. A company or consultant that has achieved these qualifications should have the certificates for verification. Copyright 2010 Fenton IT. All rights reserved. 12

13 Fenton I.T Ltd 6 The Croft Littlehampton West Sussex BN16 1LF Copyright 2010 Fenton IT. All rights reserved. 13

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