Do I Need A Server For My Small Business?


We get this question a lot.  The answer is not simple as a server can be a lot of things.  The real questions are:

Does your small business require e-mail and web hosting?

web and email hosting serverMost small businesses will require some sort of professional e-mail and a web presence.  Sure, you could purchase multiple servers just for this purpose.  However, you would need to also purchase the proper networking hardware, protection hardware, and much more.  This could cost anywhere from $5,000 to $50,000+.  Here’s where we turn the to the internet to see what’s available.  Simply search for “hosting services” and see what’s available to you.

Does your small business require control of data, services and devices on your network? 

group policy serverThe answer to this question should always be yes.  This is where a domain/group policy server is beneficial.  With a domain/group policy server, IT support professionals can establish a set of rules using group policy tailored to your particular business.  For example, if you want everyone in sales to be able to access a specific shared folder and everyone in customer support to access a specific folder but not access each others folders. That can be set up through the group policy.  Or, let’s say you want to disallow the user of specific devices or services from one group but allow use by another group.  This also can be set up through group policy.  The main benefit of using a domain/group policy server is that it is the sole device for managing all the workstations and devices on the entire network.  Otherwise, someone would have to configure each and every system on the network which would become a management nightmare.

Does your small business have multiple users?

active directoryIf your small business has multiple users, it can benefit from an active directory server.  With an active directory server, IT support professionals can configure and maintain all usernames and passwords for access to all computers on the network.  Oftentimes, the active directory server is the same server as the domain/group policy server for ease of management.  The benefit of an active directory server is that the users can log in to any workstation they choose with their own username and passwords.  The policies set by the group policy server follows that user wherever they log in on the network.


It doesn’t stop here.  A server can perform many other more advanced functions such as DNS, logging, files and storage services, fail-over clustering, and much more.  Active directory, domain, and group policy are just three basic services required for many small businesses when it comes to servers.  We often call these services “roles”.  The good news is, all of these services can be configured on one server.  Although, it’s always a good idea to have a backup system just in case.  It’s also common practice to separate the roles over multiple servers.

Ultimately, whether you need a server for your small business depends on how much control you would like over your network.