Server Solutions and Support

Do I Need a Server?

Many businesses can benefit greatly from adding a centralized server to their network.  First and foremost, adding a server to an existing network will allow for centralized authentication.  This means that a central user directory exists on the server that contains the user names and passwords of all the employees in the company.  In Windows, this is called an Active Directory domain. All the desktop systems on the network are then joined to the domain, and users log into their desktops normally, but the server controls their access.  This means that users can log into any desktop on the network with their user name and password, and have their files and settings 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.

This directory can also be used to allow or deny access to certain files to only those users who should have access.  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.  There are public shares that anyone with a valid account can access.  It’s also possible to use space on the server to back up laptop systems that might hold important data.  Coupling centralized authentication with file sharing greatly enhances security while making files easier to find.

Centralized E-Mail

A server can also be used to centralize e‐mail.  A business that’s currently operating without a server is probably using an external source for e‐mail, such as Yahoo or Google.  These services are cheap or even free, but adding a server and configuring it to handle e‐mail tasks brings all of your e‐mail in‐house.  This will make users’ e‐mail access faster and keep sensitive information secure.  With Microsoft Small Business Server, you can also use Microsoft Outlook for e‐mail, calendaring, and scheduling, which can greatly enhance your business productivity.

Centralized Business Applications

You  may need to add applications to your network, such as an inventory or customer resource management application.  These can be run from your server and used by your employees while keeping the data safe on the server’s redundant storage.  You can also run databases on your server with tools like FileMaker Pro and Microsoft Access, or Accounting Systems like Quickbooks or Peachtree.  In most businesses, these centralized applications are important resource for the company, and keeping them secure is  an absolute requirement, especially as the business grows.

Build an Intranet or Extranet

Depending on the size of the business, it might be a good idea to build a simple intranet site for your users.  This 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.

Microsoft’s Small Business Server 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 (an extranet), which is a far better idea than simply e‐mailing large files.  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.  Historically, files have been shared with tools such as FTP (File Transfer Protocol), but it may be simpler to build a secured extranet site where your clients can retrieve files and other data.

Mobile E-mail

By moving your company’s e‐mail to a local server, you can use Microsoft ActiveSync and Exchange to enable e‐mail access to your mobile devices, such as a BlackBerry or iPhone.  If constant e‐mail access and notifications can help your business, then this is a simple and effective way to enable that functionality.

There are many benefits to adding a server to your business network.

Whether you need a new server, upgrade you current server or need ongoing support for your current infrastructure, Northeast Computer Services can assist.

Please contact us to day for more information.