Ditch your server!

Here’s a bold statement: small business owners don’t actually want servers and all the headaches that come with them. They just want to be able to run their business and have everything ‘work’.

In today’s technology literature, there is a gross assumption in place when it comes to best technology practices for small businesses. When reading articles on how small businesses can get away from servers, I come across comments similar to below (example):

  • “A decently resourced IT team can accomplish anything”
  • “You just have to find an administrator who's willing to step away from the GUI and get their hands dirty with a small bit of PowerShell.”
  • “(Active Directory alternatives) doesn't do anything that a decently resourced IT team can't. “
  • “Microsoft (server) is not complicated, it is really simple technology. Anyone with basic understanding of authentication protocols can set up in a few hours.”

Notice a trend? There is a built in assumption that every business has IT staff available to manage, maintain, troubleshoot, upgrade, and replace servers whenever such work needs to be performed.

That’s great if you’re a medium to large sized company with a well funded IT department. However, what about the 28 million U.S. small businesses that can’t justify a full time IT staff? Where does that leave them? How do they troubleshoot, maintain, and upgrade their servers without a professional on hand to take care of it? Usually one of several ways:

  • They have an “IT guy” (usually a friend or relative) to help them out when they need it.
  • They waste their valuable time figuring it out themselves
  • Pray that nothing goes wrong (a.k.a. “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!”), and do nothing.

These are not good solutions. What do you do when your server has a critical error that brings your business to a screeching halt, and your “IT guy” isn’t immediately available to help you?

Do you really have the time to run your business and work on your server yourself while you ‘figure it out’?

Ignoring it and hoping for the best is a no win solution. All servers have a finite shelf life, and like a high end luxury car, you must absolutely stay on top of maintenance. A server with critical business data that hasn’t been updated in over a year will eventually break, often spectacularly.

There is a fourth option:

  • Hire an outside consulting agency to take care of it

Typically referred to as Managed Service Providers (MSP’s), they will handle maintenance on your server, including keeping patches up to date. However, the typical cost of server maintenance is over $200 per month. Mind you, these are just the costs for monthly maintenance. If something breaks and you need it fixed right away, be ready to empty your wallet! That doesn’t even account for the time and money that is also lost while your business is at a standstill waiting for the server to be repaired.

So, how does a small business that doesn’t have the time nor the funding to hire (or contract) a well resourced IT staff deal with the overhead and hassles that all servers come with?

Here’s a radical idea: Ditch the server!

Consider your business’s needs, and what can be moved to the cloud

It used to be that every business, large or small, was required to own a server in order to get any work done. Whether it was for email, file sharing, or productivity software, maintaining a server was the only effective option available. This idea is deeply ingrained in us.

However, within the past 5 years, more and more services that could only be performed by on-site servers have moved to the cloud. Email, file sharing, invoicing, inventory management, access control. If you can think of it, it’s on the cloud now. No servers to maintain, no software to purchase or troubleshoot. All you need is a web browser.

Now, am I saying that a business with 200 employees that works primarily in the office get rid of their login server? Of course not. Maintaining access controls for a company that size without one would be untenable.

However, for 1 to 20 employee businesses, moving the services that they rely on to the cloud would enable them to finally get rid of their server. You read that right. Never deal with server purchases, maintenance, or replacements ever again. It’s not just wishful thinking, it’s real and it’s possible today.

Last summer we helped a 4 employee business move their email and file server to Office 365. They were running on a 12 year old Windows server that ran in their basement. The owner spent too much of his time troubleshooting server crashes that increased in frequency, and he dreaded the upcoming ordeal of replacing it. Once their email and file sharing was moved to Microsoft’s cloud, there was no reason to keep running a login server for their shop. We ditched the server and ran email, file management, and access permissions 100% from the cloud. Whenever I check in with the owner, he’s delighted at how well everything runs and how much time he has to focus on his business now that he no longer has a dying server to worry about.

What if you could run your business from your office, from your home, while travelling, and from your mobile device? What if you could collaborate in real time with your colleagues on documents, and rest easy knowing your data is protected and secure? What if it was very inexpensive to do so? What if you could do all of this and never have to put up with a server ever again? If this sounds like a wish come true, we can make it a reality. Let us know if you’re ready to ditch the server and simply be able to focus on your business instead.