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How to Choose a Network Server for Your Business?

Updated on Jun 18, 2022
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Rack Server

Network servers are a key component in enterprise networks as they provide a variety of services and perform vital tasks. Nowadays server-based networks can be found in many business applications, from small businesses to large-scale enterprises. The right server will contribute a lot to business performance. But how to choose the right network server for your business? Read on and find answers in this article.

 

4 Questions to Ask Before Buying a Server for Your Enterprise Business

The selection of a network server is always a complex experience. Before starting to pick up the server, you need to think twice based on the requirements of your enterprise. Following are some questions you need to ask yourself first.

1. What types of workloads will you run?

Workloads your business will be running determine what performance, reliability, and volume the server is supposed to have. From small to expanding businesses, the types of workloads are different, which makes the requirement on network servers vary from one to another. You should think about the following server tasks for reference for making the selection.

Are the servers going to control computer-shared peripheral equipment, such as printers and scanners? If so, you'll only need a low power device and an old computer can also act as your printer server. Will you need to host a website with a web server? A web server delivers web content such as HTML pages, files, images and videos in response to HTTP. The hardware and software components will determine the performance of your website, therefore please discuss with your developer the traffic and bandwidth, and also the structure used to build your website.

How Does Web Server Work

When it comes to the application server, things are much more complicated than selecting a web server. Application server caters to applications with complex features like distributed transactions and messaging. It has higher resource utilization capability than a web server and may require large storage.

How Does Application Server Work

When businesses run e-mail services with a mail server, a dedicated server with enough storage and hardware reliability is suggested for optimal operation. When the server runs a video game or handles data mining, it will require lots of processing power. If your business is providing database services to other servers, it is suggested to use a fast CPU and high-performance hardware no matter whether you are using MySQL, SQLServer or Oracle.

2. How many users will the applications need to serve?

The number of users that rely on your services is a critical factor you should think about. Usually, it will determine what kind of server CPU and how much storage will be needed for the server specification.

There are several questions to be evaluated: What's the average number of users over a given frame? How many concurrent users are there? What is the highest volume of users utilizing the server? Take peak traffic into account if you would not like to see the website go slowly as the volume of people using the server grows. Also, you should predict the future demand and make a plan of user growth as precisely as possible, because as your business grows, your network servers will be able to support more and more users.

3. What's the amount of capacity that you need?

Once you've known what types of workloads you will run and how many users the applications will serve, you can calculate the amount of capacity you will need. There are two aspects to be considered: what's the capacity needed for all types of services? And what's the future capacity in 2 or 3 years? To get an answer to the first question, calculate the volume occupied by the operating system, application installation, the database, mail, etc. Multiply the capacity with the expected number of users and make a prediction of the growth in 2 or 3 years. Finally, you still need to multiply the value by a factor of around 1.5 in case of data backup and file operation.

4. What's your budget?

Your server should fulfill the network needs but also be influenced by your budget. Generally, the more complex tasks your business requires, the more the server will cost. Also, you should not only consider your business tasks at the moment but also the long-term task requirement. Compare the pros and cons you'll meet when buying a cheaper server or an expensive one.

Cheaper Server More Expensive Server
  • The server can be offline for periods of time;

  • I don't need the server to carry on critical workloads;

  • Workloads require low power;

  • I don't need redundant features such as RAID or dual-ethernet;

  • The server doesn't need to host heavy traffic such as e-commerce or other customer- facing resources.

  • The server needs to be online 24/7;

  • The server will carry on multiple complex workloads effectively, such as big data analysis;

  • I need redundancy features like RAID and dual-ethernet;

  • The server will be used for critical traffic.

Of course, the cost of a server will also be determined by the server brand, as different vendors and manufacturers provide different quotation lists. So, make a comparison between the servers from different suppliers. And what you should compare is what we will talk about next.

 

Choose Server Specifications for Your Business Needs

After answering the questions, here comes the main considerations for network servers: on-site or cloud, form factor, CPU (processor), RAM (memory), and hard drive which is also referred to as storage.

On-Site or Cloud

The most significant difference between on-site servers and cloud servers lies in the cost and management. On-site servers seem more cost-effective for small to medium businesses, since the devices are stored and managed in your own space. However, it requires dedicated IT support and is susceptible to data loss during disaster situations. Meanwhile, for businesses tight in space, deploying a server physically in your office may not be a good idea. Nevertheless, cloud costs grow, as your business expands. Companies inevitably bring network infrastructures in-house eventually. If you decide on a server on-premises, then you should consider the hardware components of servers.

Form Factor

The form factor of a network server can be three types: rack servers, blade servers and tower servers. Of the three server form factors, rack server provides great flexibility since it enables several servers to be installed in the same bay. It effectively utilizes space and is easy to expand as business grows, which wins popularity in enterprises. To know more differences among the three network server types, please refer to Rack Server vs. Blade Server vs. Tower Server.

Server CPU

CPU, also called the processor, is considered the brain of the server. The faster the processor of the server is, the more programs the server can run and the faster it can run them. Rethinking your answers to the questions above will help you make a wise choice.

If you are starting your business and the budget is tight, it is a waste to pay for performance you don't really need. If your server runs SQLServer, MySQL or Oracle and there are hundreds of concurrent users, choose a high frequency server or multiple processor servers in case of a heavy load. Many server vendors provide both single and dual CPU servers while multiple CPUs work better than a single CPU. For example, FS servers are integrated with Intel® Xeon® multi-core processors, offering 2 CPU and 4 CPU options. For business-critical workload, virtualization, hyper-converged, database, business processing, and data-intensive data center applications with stringent space and performance requirements, they are optimal choices.

Server CPU

Server RAM

Answers to the applications server will run and the user numbers will help us find the appropriate server RAM. If there is little RAM in the server, the applications will use virtual memory on the storage drive, which is slower. To avoid your network becoming slow to respond, it's the best practice to maximize the amount of memory.

RAM often ranges from 2GB to 64GB. When it comes to everyday computing tasks such as internet browsing, email, listening to music or watching videos, 8GB of RAM will suffice. But when the server requires high RAM, especially the dedicated cache servers like squid, varnish or memcached server, consider adding RAM as much as possible. There is no such thing as too much server RAM. but for businesses with little budget, you are suggested to talk to IT experts and figure out the correct RAM for operation.

Hard Drive

The selection of the server hard drive can be complex because there are lots of factors to consider such as the types of hard drive including SSD, HDD, and flash storage, the connection types, the hardware number, rotational latency, and whether Raid card is needed. For more information about choosing the right server hard drive types, please refer to Server HDD vs. SSD. There is also a third type of hard drive—hybrid hard drives or an SSHD, which drives interest for someone looking for performance at a reduced cost.

 

Conclusion

There are lots of choices when it comes to buying the right network server for your business. It is always necessary to do your research and explore the market before deciding on what network servers your company will use. Make sure the servers meet your needs and the server vendor you choose offers great quality service, which will empower your business growth in the long run and help you make the best from it.

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