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Do I even need a server os?

Last response: in Business Computing
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November 16, 2012 1:56:41 PM

So I work for a fairly large dental supply company that produces its own software and computers for installation into dental offices. Our largest servers come with Windows 2008, and our smallest with Win7 (both 64 bit).

What I realized the other day is that we don't utlize any features of the Windows 2008 system. We don't use domains or active directories, we don't use any of the encryption or backup features. Nothing. We set each computer up on a workgroup with one user (plus the hidden administrator), install a third party backup software and go on our way.

Our dental software is usually the only piece of software running on our server machine, and it really doesn't require much. So my question is this. Hardware aside, is there any reason for someone to go with 2008 if they're not going to use any of the obvious features? Could I be missing something here? It just seems like a waste of money for the software and all the client licenses that go along with it, if they're not going to take advantage of it.

Thanks!

Brandon

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November 16, 2012 2:02:31 PM

ehero said:
So I work for a fairly large dental supply company that produces its own software and computers for installation into dental offices. Our largest servers come with Windows 2008, and our smallest with Win7 (both 64 bit).

What I realized the other day is that we don't utlize any features of the Windows 2008 system. We don't use domains or active directories, we don't use any of the encryption or backup features. Nothing. We set each computer up on a workgroup with one user (plus the hidden administrator), install a third party backup software and go on our way.

Our dental software is usually the only piece of software running on our server machine, and it really doesn't require much. So my question is this. Hardware aside, is there any reason for someone to go with 2008 if they're not going to use any of the obvious features? Could I be missing something here? It just seems like a waste of money for the software and all the client licenses that go along with it, if they're not going to take advantage of it.

Thanks!

Brandon


Nope. Microsoft's server software is awesome, but only if you actually use it. You may want to make sure that you're not using the CALs though, because consumer versions of Windows are limited in that regard.
November 16, 2012 2:08:41 PM

Brandon, you are dead on correct, unless your customers require increased security. There are useful features in this arena regarding server 2008 like a improved firewall, deployment services(for client computer recovery) and a central place for updates so that all the client computers don't hog up the internet line when a new update comes in.

All these features are of course trivial if all you are doing is setting up a 5 computer network. Server is more for 50+ computers.
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November 16, 2012 2:09:15 PM

Nope, you should be able to setup local accounts. The workstation does limit some resources (by default) but it should not be a issue in this case. Win 8 or even Win 7 should work just fine.
November 16, 2012 2:26:44 PM

That's what I was thinking. Thanks very much for the replies.

At most, we're looking at 20 computers connected to the machine at once. Usually it's more like 10 or less. And we can't even use the firewall. My company hasn't figured out how to get it configured properly so that it will allow our software to run. As far as software updates go, ug. We have so many offices that will see Windows trying to update on startup, and when it takes longer than a minute, they'll shut it off and start it up again. So I had to turn that off in many offices as well.

Now I'm just making myself sad. But thanks again for the answers! At least I should be able to save some dentists some money, so that's always helpful.

Brandon
November 16, 2012 2:34:06 PM

You can only connect 10 machines to a workgroup.
November 16, 2012 2:37:10 PM

I've done a little work with some proprietary dental computer systems and software for a client here locally, so I think I understand the idea that you are talking about here. In the situation that I have looked at, at least, the computer system mainly was being used as a database holder and file sharing for the other computers in the office to get access to the shared files. If a domain was needed, or any other services, a completely separate computer system or server would be set up for that, not the machine sent directly by the software vendor.

In this case, no I wouldn't imagine that you would need the full Windows Server OS. Windows 7 Professional has the ability to do everything you need on the other boxes, so I figure it should work for the ones you are currently using with Windows Server. The only part that might come up as a complication is driver support. If you are using server computer systems for the offices that you are also installing Windows Server 2008 on, it might be required for driver support for that particular hardware as Windows 7 isn't supported, but this is not usually the case if you are doing the computer systems yourself.
November 16, 2012 3:52:59 PM

ehero said:
.....At most, we're looking at 20 computers connected to the machine at once.....


And thus the reason you need a server OS. Workstation OS is limited to 10 simultaneous connections (this includes such things as mapping to a shared printer/s)
November 16, 2012 5:17:34 PM

ex_bubblehead said:
And thus the reason you need a server OS. Workstation OS is limited to 10 simultaneous connections (this includes such things as mapping to a shared printer/s)


I knew that was true with XP, but I thought under Win7 you could have 20 concurrent connections. Unless I'm thinking of something different...
November 16, 2012 5:20:09 PM

Nope, the 10 simultaneous connections limit still exists for Workstation OS's.
November 16, 2012 6:13:46 PM

Considering they are working with patient Data and therefore are required to follow federal HIPAA laws and protect PHI/PII they are leaving themselves open to lawsuits by not even following extremely basic security, and if you're the one setting up the network.on a contract and turning of updates and can't even figure out how to turn on a firewall on the network I wouldn't be surprised if you could be sued as well. Then there are the criminal penalties.

You shouldn't be seeing up "networks" if you dont know how, especially in the healthcare industry. I am completely shocked at the."we dont even use the firewall because we can't figure out how" comment. All our machines are required to use full drive encryption, I can't imagine not even trying to protect the database.
November 16, 2012 6:47:27 PM

While I'd never recommend shutting off the Windows firewall, especially in a business environment, it's a little too early to make the assumption that the networks these computers are installed in have NO firewall. They may very well have a hardware firewall unit already in place, and a separate server system handling password-protected user account access or password protected accounts on all computers in a workgroup environment at least.

No where has the OP stated that they maintain anything of the networks or computer systems in the actual doctor's office, only that they maintain their own piece of equipment at that office, meaning it really isn't their responsibility necessarily to ensure the overall network integrity and compliance for all computers and network systems at every office that their software is running.
November 16, 2012 7:12:54 PM

choucove said:
....No where has the OP stated that they maintain anything of the networks or computer systems in the actual doctor's office....

Quote:
So I work for a fairly large dental supply company that produces its own software and computers for installation into dental offices.


They're producing the software and providing the computers. It's their responsibility to ensure that that system complies with HIPAA. I missed the earlier part where it was stated that no encryption is done. Hope this company's got really deep pockets, HIPAA violations ain't cheap.
November 16, 2012 10:07:22 PM

Where they state they are providing the computers, I imagine what he is talking about is providing a SINGLE workstation that is acting as the network storage location for running the database files utilized on other computers running their software, but not necessarily that they are providing and installing ALL the computers in the offices.

With the couple dental software systems I have worked on before, this has been the case, where each software vendor took care of a single system "server" running their database but did not deal at all with anything else in the network. However, if this is NOT the case and in fact all of the end point computers and network infrastructure are under your control and administration, then yes HIPAA regulations here are not met and seriously need addressing!
November 17, 2012 4:29:08 AM

Why would a dental supply software be concerned with HIPAA. I thought that was for protection of patients records. Dental supply sounds more like inventory control. Also, wouldn't HIPAA constraints only apply if you are in the USA?

The server and workstations under the constrains specified should act very much the same. Both, can run backup, both can encrypt files, both can provide secure access, firewall and virus protection.
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