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The best SMB server strikes the right balance between power and price for handling a company’s data workload. It’s a simple enough premise, but many small companies struggle with identifying technology needs accurately enough to make an educated purchase. Here is a simple six question technology assessment that puts a small company on the right track when shopping for a server.

Question 1: What types of applications are you running?

A small architecture firm running distributed CAD software has different server needs than a company that uses only basic office programs. Print servers and servers for IP surveillance cameras require different specifications than authentication servers, and so forth.

Take stock of the company’s core infrastructure applications, and reference the manufacturer’s recommended system requirements for operating them.  These will guide many of the specifications you will look for in a SMB server—the type of processor, the number or cores, and how much server memory you should equip.

Question 2: How many users are accessing the network?

A larger headcount usually means greater demands on server infrastructure. Maybe this means increased data storage capacity for exchange servers and shared file servers. Serving productivity applications to more users may require a more powerful CPU. A larger team tends to use more applications, and this is where virtualization starts to come into consideration. Using a few powerful servers in place of several entry-level servers saves on hardware and management costs.

Question 3: What hardware is in your current network environment?

If employees need to access a server remotely, a router that supports VPN is needed to facilitate this. Also consider network throughput when making a server upgrade to avoid performance bottlenecks.  Whether a 10 GB Ethernet connection will benefit end users is a question of how much data is traveling between endpoints, switch, and server, and the nature of the files. If your team is working with large files (video editing, CAD, mining large databases) a 10 GB switch stands to boost performance. To get a clearer picture of the throughput metrics in your current network, there are number of free ways to conduct a network speed test for a LAN and WLAN.

Question 4: Do you have in-house IT staff, or are you outsourcing?

If you’re going it alone without dedicated IT on staff, buying servers that come with a warranty and vendor onsite support is a smart thing to do. Most servers from Dell, Hewlett-Packard, and Lenovo come with robust warranty and support packages.

Additionally, many SMB servers have built-in setup wizards designed for out-of-the box set up and deployment.  For example, the HP ProLiant SMB server line has a feature called HP iLO4, which assists non-IT users with setup and provision, health and alerting, problem resolution, firmware updates, and managing software licensing.

Question 5: Are you concerned about system downtime and maintenance?

For many companies, server downtime translates directly into lost revenue—especially if the server affects the applications used for productivity or selling products and services. While all servers are meant for 24/7 operation, servers with redundancy features provide the best defense against downtime. Single servers can have built in redundancy features like dual power supplies and dual CPUs that prevent the server from crashing should one of these components fail. Server redundancy may also refer to having identical offline secondary servers for these so-called “mission critical” applications at the ready. In case of failure or downtime, these servers can be quickly brought online in place of the primary server, or handle extra workloads during periods of high demand.

Question 6: What kind of growth (revenue and staff) are you anticipating in the next few years?

One way to prematurely obsolete SMB server hardware is to fail to plan for future growth. This is why it is important to project your computing needs for the planned lifespan of your server hardware. Planning you needs four or five years out is generally accepted as good practice. Take into account growth in revenue and changes in staffing and headcount—these are two important indicators of assessing what you will need from your server hardware down the road.

Next steps

Once you have a grasp on your technology needs it is time to find the best SMB server to fit those needs.  Start at the Server & Workstation Systems category page. Use the filtering functionality (left sidebar) to narrow your search to find products that fit with your determined specifications.

Additional resources that will help tie your needs to the appropriate server hardware:

Final thoughts

Purchasing a server can be daunting even with all the resources available to help guide the decision. If you prefer a human touch when it comes to making IT purchases, NeweggBusiness Account Executives specializing in SMB server hardware are here to help from 6 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Monday-Friday. Give us a call at (888) 482-6678 for additional guidance for finding the best SMB server to fit the needs of your organization.

6 Questions for Finding the Best SMB Server for Your Needs
Article Name
6 Questions for Finding the Best SMB Server for Your Needs
A simple six question technology assessment that puts a small company on the right track when shopping for the best SMB server for their needs
Adam Lovinus

Author Adam Lovinus

A tech writer and Raspberry Pi enthusiast from Orange County, California.

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