Four steps to a successful server setup

Bear these essential points in mind when building or upgrading your infrastructure

Servers

Servers are the core of any IT infrastructure for large and small businesses alike. Properly configured server infrastructure can keep your operations moving, enabling the IT team to focus on more innovative projects.

When building a server setup or upgrading existing infrastructure, there are some important points to bear in mind to ensure you get the most out of your servers.

Know how you'll use the servers

The variety of server hardware, applications and configurations in the market means it has never been easier to get the infrastructure you want. At the same time, a dizzying array of options can make selecting and implementing the right kit a bewildering process.

To combat this, it's best to have a clear idea of how your business will use the server infrastructure. For example, do you want a rack of servers designed for general all-purpose workloads, from crunching data to powering office apps? Or would you rather have a suite of servers to keep your data, applications and analytics systems in separate rack and stacks, ensuring that a system crash won't take out all your IT systems at once?

Different approaches have various advantages and disadvantages, from cost efficiency to lengthy setups and large space requirements. So it's really worth taking the time to work out what kind of server infrastructure most suits your business needs.

Think about connectivity

For experienced hands, setting up server rooms and infrastructure can be a straightforward task. But the evolution of how people work - from tapping into CRM systems on their smartphones to logging into central servers from public WiFi - has thrown up the challenge of considering a wider gamut of server connectivity.

When setting up your server infrastructure, you'll now need to work out how you can facilitate remote access in a secure fashion. There are many options to choose from; your company may have a wide area network in place to connect remote offices, or perhaps a virtual private network (VPN) is the better choice for you to facilitate secure server connectivity across the internet.

Virtualisation is another area to consider. The tech allows remote desktop and app access to be streamed from your servers to an external device, but keeps data safe on a secured networked server rather than ferrying it to and from a remote device.

Ensuring your network is up to scratch is also key; a new server setup can be quickly blighted by complaints of a slow network connection from workers, so some budget should be set aside for investing in fast routers and Ethernet switches.

Build with the future in mind

Investing in more power and storage than you need might seem like a waste of money, but the ever-increasing amounts of data businesses collect and consume to fuel smarter decisions and efficient operations means data capacity is key. As such, it's best to select servers and their surrounding infrastructure with future expansion in mind. This approach will go some way in helping to reduce the likelihood of you hitting server capacity too quickly.

A server room with space to upgrade over time will be a more cost-effective way of keeping your servers scaling with your business operations than having to undertake a major equipment refit in the near future that includes finding more room for new hardware.

Consider the cloud

There may be something comforting about having your servers on site and easily accessible, but to get the most out of your IT infrastructure you really should consider tapping into the power of the cloud.

The huge range of cloud-based services available with all the expertise on hand from the companies that offer them, means you can be comfortable in the knowledge that servers being run in cloud-powering data centres are robust and come with a host of fail-safes, as well as making scaling much easier - you can simply pay for your provider to turn on more servers, rather than footing the bill yourself.

There are a few challenges with going all-in with the cloud though, such as latency, data sovereignty and regulations, and the private versus public cloud debate.

As such, integrating cloud services and platforms with your own servers is a way to set up a hybrid infrastructure that allows you to keep critical systems at your fingertips but push less essential services and applications into the cloud.

This approach not only provides a relatively modernised and flexible server infrastructure, but also cuts down on the number of servers and machines you need to power and maintain within the walls of your business.

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