Advice on getting server for small business

Would you guys recommend a server with SBS (Small Business Server) for a small business?
I have several friends that work for Microsoft and can get the software.

I’ve been researching on whether not our business needs a server and am not quite sure if we do at this time.
Any input or suggestions on where to find more information would be much appreciated.

We are a growing small online apparel company. Right now we’re using my main computer as a fileserver and outlook to sort email. We have a network of about 6 computers connected at any given time.

My main computer (on all the time)
2 computers that take photographs
3 computers that input inventory
2 shipping computers
and a few of laptops/devices.
We have our website hosted through a company that manages our operation (I’m not too happy with).
I do not plan on having the website in-house (if necessary) until we grow larger, have the right infrastructure and have solid tech support.

We have our email through Go Daddy’s standard mail and it’s sorted by my main computer via outlook.

The main reasons for considering a server:

1) File storage
We currently have approximately 150GB of Photos and growing.

2) Need a location for all our documents.
Documents are getting quite disorganized and not really located in one location.

3) Centralized database
We have approximately 17000 SKU’s and order information.
(This is where we need the most help)

4) Better email organization/CRM (Customer Relationship Management) Solution.

5) Relive my computer from all the stress it’s been under.
6) Remote access
I would like to be connected away from work.

I have also been researching NAS devices and am not sure if I should go in that direction paired with Google apps for business or Office 365(when it comes out).
That seems like the simplest solution with less hassle.

Business is doing well and we are growing, but price is still a factor. The NAS devices I’ve been looking at are more expensive than some entry level servers and with the way the economy is we are trying save money where we can.

I’m not sure how much of a hassle it is to manage a server. Some forums scare me away from getting one.

Any opinions or suggestions would be greatly appreciated!


Sorry I wanted to add that I was looking at the Lenovo Think server TS200V and the Dell PowerEdgeT110
7 answers Last reply Best Answer
More about advice server small business
  1. Talk to a Dell or HP rep, you should be running a couple of decent spec servers or a big beefy one running VM's handle ..

    1. File and print services.
    2. Stock control
    3. Web
  2. Thanks for the response.

    Sounds expensive and complicated.
    What price range should I be looking at?

    I talked to a Dell salesman and it seemed like he was up selling and up selling.
    I hope I'm not biting off more than I can chew.

    Thanks again for your response.
  3. Hard to say really, shop around the resellers, the only suggetsion I can really make, is look to over estimate your requirements by 10% to give you breathing space for when you outpace the hardware.

    I would also think about creating a standard hardware estate, i.e all the same model desktop and laptops, hell of alot easier when its time to get the servers up and running and future support.

    Looking at your list of services you have from 3rd party, everything could be taken in house, web, email etc etc.

    If your getting BS, talk to an independant consultant, will cost you a few ££, but in the end, if they create a system that doesn't do the job, it's their ass and not yours.
  4. The only real reason to choose SBS is if you want to have an email server inhouse. SBS has MS-exchange tighly integrated into it and is much more of an automated install than trying to install Exchange separately.

    If you're not going to do email inhouse, the only OTHER good reason to even have a "server" OS at all is to act as a domain controller and run active directory. This buys you the ability to centrally manage users and policies - but for a small shop with 4 to 6 users it may or may not be 'worth it'. Aside from that, there's not much you can do with a server OS that you can't do just as well with XP or Win 7.

    The downside of running a server OS in a small shop is that, even if you get the OS itself for free, when you go to buy antivirus or other utilities the 'server' versions of those products costs a premium.
  5. Best answer
    Our office had 9 users. We use our server for a file server only. When we first started we had 5 users and we used one of our computers as a server. This worked fine but we were on Win98SE and when our CAD apps would crash, we would have to reboot the computer which affected everybody. We bought a cheap Linux server and it works fine as a server. It is pretty stable but we occasionally have to reboot it to clear up problems with the file system. We have problems with administering the Linux system so we are considering building a new Windows server, i.e. a small computer running Windows and a couple of large hard drives.
  6. Thank you all for the advice.

    After reading ton of the posts. I think I would feel more at ease with having a independent computer just as file server. We could do all our image processing on it and store a database. Until we fully utilize a server and justify the cost.
    I never really thought about that. Thanks cadder.

    As for email.
    I've been trying out hosted exchange by Godaddy. Has anyone used Google Apps for business?
    I think we'll use Salesforce for our CRM.

    Unless any of you think this is a bad idea?

    I really appreciate you guys giving me you time and all your input!

  7. Best answer selected by brian425.
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