Most small businesses can benefit greatly from adding a server to their IT network. Some of the benefits to having a server include:
A central user directory can exist on the server that contains the user names and passwords of all the employees in the company. All the desktop systems on the network are joined to the domain which allows users to log into any desktop on the network with their user name and password, and their files and settings will appear as if they were sitting at their own computer. This functionality is crucial for security and provides the foundation for many other facets of network computing.
The central user directory can also be used to allow or deny access to certain files. A normal small‐business server will have file shares available that contain users’ personal files as well as shared files that other users can access when necessary. By dedicating a share to each user, they can store sensitive and private information in a place that only they can access. On the other hand, there are also public shares that anyone with a valid account can access.
BRINGING EMAIL IN-HOUSE AND IMPLEMENTING MOBILE E‐MAIL
Adding a server and configuring it to handle e‐mail tasks brings all of your e‐mail in‐house making users’ e‐mail access faster and keeping sensitive information within the company’s doors. In addition, by moving your company’s e‐mail to a local server, you can enable e‐mail access to your mobile devices, such as a Windows Mobile phone, BlackBerry or iPhone.
Additional business applications such as an inventory or customer resource management applications can be run from your server and used by your employees while keeping the data safe on the server's redundant storage. In most businesses, these applications are the key to the company, and keeping them safe and sound is an absolute requirement, especially as the business grows.
BUILD AN INTRANET AND EXTRANET
A simple intranet site for your business could house quick links to forms, commonly used files, and information for your employees, as well as serve as a central point for distributing information throughout the company. Windows Small Business Server 2011 comes with SharePoint, which can make the process of building and maintaining an intranet site very simple.
If your business needs to exchange large files with other companies or clients, you can also use your server to house these files and allow access to outside entities through an extranet. Many e‐mail providers and companies restrict the size of inbound e‐mail, and direct file transfers may be the only way to distribute some information.
Most small businesses add a tape drive to the server as the data stored on your server is worth much more than the server itself. In the event of a catastrophic failure, fire, or flood, that data can mean the difference between keeping the doors open or closing them for good. Backup software running on the server backs up the server's operating system and files to the tape. Once a backup has been completed, these tapes can be stored off‐site in a secure location.
Conclusion: There are many benefits to adding a server to a small business network. The rule of thumb is that if you're spending a lot of time moving information around your organization, if you’re having trouble wringing real efficiencies out of your current computers, or if you have concerns about data safety, it's time to get your first server.