What are servers?

More powerful than most desktop or laptop computers, servers do the heavy lifting in your network, in terms of storing and sharing information. And depending on how each server is configured, they’re usually dedicated to a particular task, like your web activity, email or file sharing.

What about using the cloud instead?

One of the benefits of the cloud is that instead of cluttering up your office with a bunch of big heat-generating black boxes you can get the same services through the internet. You’re still using servers, they’re just in a data centre outside your office, maybe even in another country, and are managed by your cloud provider.

But while the cloud offers a lot of advantages – and is usually your best bet, if you’re choosing between the two technologies – servers at your own premises can still come in handy, and in some cases are completely essential.

Why might you need a server in your office?

If you work with a lot with massive files – for example, if you edit videos, music files and digital artwork and plans – it’s often better to get them directly from a server in your building, instead of relying on the internet. And although the cloud often offers better cyber security, if you work in a regulated sector, your company might be legally required to keep information in a server in your office, rather than storing it in a third party data centre.

And let’s not forget, some applications simply don’t work on the cloud – in which case you’ll need a server to run them.

What are the challenges?

Choosing the right hardware

There are so many types and sizes of servers out there, it can be hard knowing where to start. The risk being, as with any hardware investment, that you make a bad choice: if a server isn’t powerful enough or doesn’t have enough storage, for example, you’ll spend a lot of extra time and money replacing it.

Plus you also need to consider whether a server is a good fit for where you want to put it: servers can be huge, hot and noisy – which is why people tend to tuck them away in air-conditioned server rooms.

Installation, redundancy & backup, change management

Once you’ve (hopefully) chosen the right server, the next step is to install it – which can be a fiddly process. Servers aren’t designed to be plug and play, so as well as setting up the server itself, you also might need to install application software on your computers, and learn (and/or teach your staff) how the new system works.

And what happens if a server fails? To avoid losing vital information, you need to create a robust redundancy and backup system. Which, given the complexity of most server technology, can be far from straightforward.

How Dr Logic can help

Whether you want to install new servers or upgrade your current ones or move them out of your offices and into a cloud environment, we can handle every aspect of the project, from speccing the right hardware and getting everything set up, to minimising any disruption – both during the installation and beyond – and even repurposing or recycling your old servers.

We start by asking about your needs: what is the server for? Where do you want to put it? How many people are likely to use it, now and in the future? When choosing servers, we always check for upgradeability – whether you can upgrade them by inserting a faster network card, for example, or if you can speed them up by adding an SSD to act as a cache.

We’ll also ask about redundancy and backup: do you need your server to be up all the time? How vital is the information it contains, and how long could you manage without it? As well as protecting your data using backup servers in multiple locations, we can minimise the disruption caused by server failure. For example, we can ensure that another server (a ‘hot spare’) will instantly take over, or use a snapshot of the server data from a virtual machine to roll back to a previous time.

However complex the installation, we’ll take care to make the process as seamless as possible: instead of assuming there won’t be any hiccups, we’ll make sure there’s a backup plan, and keep your old server to hand just in case.

It’s good to talk

And to ensure that the installation is as smooth as possible for your staff, we can also help out with the change management aspects of the project. For example, we can notify everyone what’s happening ahead of time, provide them with a clear timetable, and explain how (or if) the new technology is going to affect the way they work.

Are you looking for support with a server installation or upgrade? To find out more about how we can help, just get in touch.

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