All you Need to Know about Servers

Nov 4, 2022 | Solutions

By Mary Grlic

What is a Server?

Servers share, send, and receive data in your network. A server can manage multiple devices at once, providing your small business with support, service, and security. The term “server” applies to both software applications and hardware that allow a system to run more efficiently.

You might be familiar with the term “server” in the context of websites. Servers power big-name web pages, allowing you access, send, and receive data through the web. Your email account, like Gmail, also relies on a web-based server. Sometimes applications and webpages will fail due to an internal issue with the site’s server. The server enables users to gain access to that site, and if it fails, then they will no longer be able to go onto that web page. 

Businesses and organizations need servers to manage the entire system and power devices for multiple users. A server is engineered to run applications, emails, shared calendars, databases, and management software for different users at once. 

Server Hardware

Your server’s hardware is the physical device that is connected to the computer network. Physically, a server might look like a high-end desktop tower, minus a keyboard, mouse, and monitor. It does however have a high-powered processor, high-powered RAM (randomly allocated memory), more storage space, and a backup battery. With higher-power hardware, a server is capable of better performance and processing power compared to normal desktop computers. 

Redundant array of independent disk, or RAID, way of storing the same data in different places on multiple hard disks or solid-state drives (SSDs) to protect data in the case of a drive failure. Servers place data onto multiple disks so that if a drive fails, it can easily be recovered on another disk. Mirroring will copy identical data onto more than one drive. Striping partitions help spread data over multiple disk drives. Servers also have redundant power to protect your server’s battery. If one power supply fails, another one will take its place so that the entire server does not fail. These two backup methods are incredibly useful and essential for all companies. These hardware capabilities prevent downtime and protect data.

Operating Systems

Just as with desktop computers or laptops, servers run on operating systems. Server operating systems offer more than your standard OS as they need to manage multiple devices. A server OS is meant to be stable and secure in order to implement various platforms, including web, database, applications, and more.

Windows Server is one of the top operating systems for your server. The newest version, Windows Server 2022, recently released, with the 2019 version being the most previous to date. The newest update provides more advanced multi-layer security, hybrid features with Microsoft Azure (a computer application), and increased flexibility. With up-to-date technology found in the 2022 version, your server’s firmware and hardware will stay well-protected, and you can minimize the risk of malware or firmware-based attacks. Windows Server 2022 also has improved VM (virtual machine) management.

Server Functions

So what does a server actually do? How can it help businesses, enterprises, and websites run more effectively? Servers have some key functions that allow organizations to manage their entire system under one central figure. You might look at the server as the heart of a network, giving life to all of the devices running under said network. As mentioned before, a server shares, sends, and receives data to better manage a system. With the high-powered processing systems, storage mechanisms, and power supply, a server is equipped to control an entire network.

Recovery and Data Preservation

RAID and redundant power are two key parts of a server that protect your system in the event of an emergency. Natural disasters, viruses, and cyber attacks are a few things that can affect your system. Data loss can be extremely harmful for your business, and if all of that data is saved onto a singular computer or does not have a proper backup, your organization is at even more risk. A server holds your data in a protected environment and keeps information on separate disks so that it can be one step ahead. In case a drive fails or a natural disaster occurs, RAID is meant to protect all network data. Sometimes power fails as well, so your server’s redundant power supply can protect your system from failing. With these hardware components, your business can prevent prolonged downtime and best keep data safe.

Types of Servers

If you are looking for a server for your business, you may have come across many different types of servers. It can be confusing to pick which type of server is the best for your business. At Computero, we recommend a small tower server or a rack based server, depending on the size of your business.

Small Tower Server 

A tower server is a stand alone, upright cabinet. A small tower server might look like a desktop PC. A high-end tower server with a fast CPU (central processing unit), lots of RAM, and a lot of hard drives is surely the solution for many small or medium sized businesses. These servers can manage a lot of services your business may require, including virtualization. Tower servers are a rather cost effective option that can still meet your business needs. They do not require too much maintenance compared to other server types, are simple to upgrade, and have fewer space constraints. 

There are some downsides to a tower server. To manage a tower server, you will need to access it with an external keyboard, mouse, and monitor. A KVM option allows one set of peripherals to control several machines. A tower server provides limited scalability once you’ve maxed out its capabilities. For small businesses that are not looking to expand, a tower is a great option. However, if you anticipate your IT requirements expanding rapidly, a rack or blade server is a better alternative.

Rack Servers

For businesses that are looking to operate several servers, a rack model is a good option. Rack servers are mountable in a “rack,” making for an organized and less dense build. A rack allows you to fit many servers into a fairly small area and includes a cable-management system for a neat installation. Oftentimes, rack servers can easily be expanded and they contain many sockets for CPUs and lots of memory and storage.

Rack servers are typically more expensive than tower servers. They require lots of cooling, so a climate-controlled system or cool area is the best place to keep your rack. If your company has an IT closet or spare area to store your server, that is a great place so that it can stay cool. The fans in rack servers can also be quite loud, so many businesses isolate these kinds of servers from other areas of a building. Just as with a tower server, a rack server requires an external KVM. Rack servers are more difficult to maintain as well because they must be physically pulled from the rack for servicing.

HPE

Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) is a leading server manufacturer for many IT systems. They have high-performing, up-to-date, and well-managed servers that are great for many companies. Additionally they have many options for businesses of all sizes, including tower and rack servers. 

Server Installation, Support, and Management

Servers are surely an essential part of a business network. Installing, supporting, and managing your server might seem like a daunting task for your business. With a knowledgeable IT service, you can easily get the server support you need. Managed IT companies, like Computero, can help you every step of the way, from choosing the right server for your business to installing and upkeep your server. Additionally, many servers come with some sort of warranty (i.e., 3-year warranty). With support from server providers like HPE, you can be assured that your server will always be up and running, and troubleshooting will be easy.

Technicians at Computero specialize in server monitoring to ensure that your server is always running smoothly. Our system will monitor your server 24/7 and always keep an eye on your most critical IT infrastructure. We will be the first to know if your server is down or if an unexpected issue arises, allowing us to troubleshoot and fix the issue before it gets too serious. Our system also creates frequent health reports so that we can monitor and understand the health of your server. This data allows us to spot trends and plan for necessary upgrades that keeps your network healthy and even running better than before.

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