There are many scenarios under which small business owners or officers of non-profit organizations ask themselves: Do I need a server? What is this server business all about? Perhaps reading this article about Server-based Networks might help one better understand the use of servers and advantages of a server network. We typically observe these types of Small Business Server installations:
  • a start-up firm needs to build a server in order to set up a server network
  • an organization outgrew its peer-to-peer network and decided to upgrade to a server network
  • current server configuration needs a change to expand its functionality, for instance: a Server OS upgrade
  • a previously installed small business server is approaching the end of life expectancy and it's time for migrating small business server environment
Small Business Server setup always takes off from picking a Server OS and outlining the future Server Configuration. Use of servers is rather extensive therefore many solutions are usually available. They vary in technology, performance and price. For example, if one needed an affordable IT Solution for basic File Sharing among Macintosh computers with an in-house Email System then Allora would offer a Linux Server network running an SMB server (Samba) for file sharing and Sendmail + IMAP/POP for the email tasks. The advantage here is the cost of the Server OS: it is free. The drawback is that operating an SMB server and Sendmail tends to be more complicated than alternatives. This budget route served a few of our clients very well for many years. However as their servers aged and appetite for more robust IT solutions grew, the necessity of migrating small business server layout became more and more pressing. Some folks chose the path of migrating their small business server to Microsoft's platform (SBS 2003 or SBS 2008 armed with a powerful Exchange server), others outsourced some tasks that were previously handled locally with online solutions like Gmail or Google Apps. Very frequently the choice is dictated by a specialty application that requires a server network, to name a few: PC-LAW or Time Slips (attorney office) ; SoftPro (real-estate firms) ; Sage (non-profit organization fund raising); Quickbooks or Peachtree accounting applications.

All aspects mentioned above are addressed during the Consulting phase of Allora's business model. In addition our consultants briefly introduce other IT technical solutions that might expand the use of servers for the customer, for example:
  • Small Business Server Firewall
  • Small Business Server VPN
  • Small Business Server Remote Desktop
At this point we're switching gears from the question "Do I need a server?" to the task of "How to get a server?". Allora's experts would gladly present a client with a few options for hardware and software vendors. Traditionally we prefer getting hardware from our local Partner - Intrex. The reason for that lies in their accessibility and responsiveness compared to nation-wide players with call-centers on the other side of the planet. Of course we always explore alternative options like Dell simply because they often price their servers very agressively.

At last, we present the customer with a written proposal that typically incorporates a budget project estimate and a hi-end one. An example of such project estimate for Small Business Server setup can be viewed at this page. From here onwards the client reviews the proposal; a decision is made with regards to server configuration as well as other elements of server network. A suitable date is chosen to allow enough time for server build-out and to minimize the impact to the client's daily operations by a Small Business Server installation.
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