A server is a hardware device (or software, where virtualisation is used) that provides functionality to other devices, called ‘clients’. The numerous functions or services a server can provide, including sharing data, applications or resources (e.g. printers) are sometimes called ‘roles’.
Typical roles include file and print server; database server; mail server; web server; and application server. The software that helps to perform these roles is also commonly referred to as a ‘server’ (e.g. Microsoft Exchange Server, a common email server).
An important role in a business network is the Active Directory service; a server running this is called a ‘domain controller’ and it takes charge of client access to resources on the local network (or ‘domain’), enforcing security policy and often providing services like DHCP, DNS, deployment of configuration and applications to clients (e.g. through Group Policy).
What this means to you
Having one or more servers provides a great many benefits to a business, and to an extent signifies that the business has grown beyond the use of the ‘peer-to-peer’ model used by families and very small companies. When changing to a ‘client-server’ model, user devices will communicate with the server instead of with each other.
A dedicated server allows things like:
- Shared access to resources like data (e.g. client information, stored in a single, central place) and peripherals (e.g. a shared printer).
- A single email system to be set up for all users (i.e. staff), and be managed centrally.
- Important data to be centralised and backed up, extending the principle of shared access (above) to protecting the data from loss.
- A database (like Microsoft SQL Server or MySQL) to be created and located centrally (and backed up, of course) to enable applications to run. This could be for accounting applications, point of sale applications, or hundreds of others.
- Centralisation of security and configuration. With a server, policies can be created that apply to all user devices. These policies allow a myriad of different things to be controlled (like software updates, security rules, and user privileges).
Many of these benefits can be achieved with either a ‘local’ server, or through use of cloud services like Microsoft 365. Having a server gives you the most flexibility, as almost every aspect of the IT provision can be configured and controlled, but of course it does need to be looked after in order to do its job(s) properly.
Why we are good
We’ve been providing servers to clients as their needs have grown, supporting and maintaining those servers, and upgrading or replacing them when required, for many years.
A physical, dedicated server can transform the way technology is used to support a business, and we have a lot of experience with not only the technology, but the process too.
What we can do
We can install a server if you don’t have one; we can upgrade or replace an existing server; or we can add additional servers to perform specific roles.
With an on-premises server(s) (i.e. at your office), we set up secure remote access so we can keep the server(s) running well and fix any problems that arise too.