What is a Rack Server? FAQ

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What is a Rack Server?

A small business server is a PC at heart. It has a CPU, memory (RAM), storage (hard drives), a power supply, ports, and provisions for connecting to a network.

The big difference between a PC and a server is that the latter is designed for continuous and heavy use. Hence, its components are built to be robust and long-lived. And because a server must cater to many people, it needs to have more memory, a faster processor, and more storage.

Typical tasks which you may offload to a server include email hosting, file sharing and storage, and hosting a website or e-commerce store.

Signs that you need a server

You own a small business. All your employees have a PC (or laptop). The arrangement seems to be working pretty well. How do you decide whether you need a server? The following are some signs that it is time for you to invest in a server:

  • Simple activities like updating computers, or passing files around, have become harder and started taking a lot longer.
  • You have started feeling uncomfortable about critical company data being stored on employees' PCs.
  • You need reliable, fast, and immediate access to your data, and don't get it because you don't know who has it.
  • You are relying on a firewall in your ISP-provided router to keep your tech safe.
  • You have lost data when your employees have either lost their laptops or suffered disk crashes.

These are issues typically faced by businesses using standalone laptops. Using a server will help to streamline your operations and avoid these issues.

So, you have decided that migrating to a server is the right way to go. The question you now have is, which server should I buy? There are two major decisions that you will need to make: the type of server that you should use, and whether to host it on your premises or in the cloud. This article will help you make the correct decisions.

Different types of servers are available and in use today in a datacenter. In this article, we will focus on rack servers, which are the best servers for a small business.

What is a rack server?

A rack server is a computer designed to be installed in a framework called a rack and used as a server. You can stack various devices on top of each other in a single rack. All components of the IT system are located in the same place making it easier to manage the system. A rack server is also called a rack-mounted server.

Benefits of a rack server for a small business

A rack server offers a bunch of benefits for a small business. You can store data securely and access it efficiently and remotely. There are many other advantages that a rack server provides:

Shared resources and remote access

The ability to share resources is an important reason to set up a small office server. This allows employees to have access to shared software, files, and devices such as printers. It also allows employees to work remotely because they can now access files on the server when needed.

Improved performance and reliability

Servers are built for 24/7 operations and are optimised for performance. They usually include redundant hardware and software, so your operations won't be disrupted by a computer going down. You will get increased productivity from your staff and your customers will see higher availability.

Simplified IT management

It is easier to manage multiple computers from one central location rather than needed to physically go to each one. Often, server administrators can remotely troubleshoot issues. Network backups can be easily performed.

Increased security

Servers have built-in security features such as firewalls to help prevent unauthorised access. They also have sophisticated access management features to control employees' access to features and applications. Administrators can easily update antivirus software for the entire network.

Easy access to business information

A server allows staff to access customer and product information quickly and easily. This enables them to address issues and increase sales. They also provide management with the ability to view the product inventories and sales info they need for planning.

A rack server can provide many more functionalities for a small business including hosting the business' website, running an eCommerce platform, and much more, which make it an obvious choice for the best server.

How rack servers and rack mounts can save space

Rack servers have good storage capacity, meaning that they are well suited for medium-sized businesses or micro-businesses. These mountable and rectangular machines can provide computing power for your business and support your network. As a growing small business, you may be facing a space crunch in your office. A big benefit of rack servers is that they are optimised for space.

More advantages of rack servers

Each rack server is self-contained, so it has everything you need to run as a networked or stand-alone system. It has its own memory, CPU, and power source, so it is perfect for running intensive computing operations. It can be expanded to add more processors, storage, or memory. Some other advantages:

  • Consolidation of control: You can connect a network switch to most rack servers. Then you can connect all the servers to the switch and control all the servers with a single touch.
  • Scalability and upgradability: Rack servers make this easy. You simply slide a unit into a slot and secure it with screws. This simplifies adding a new unit or reprogramming an existing one.
  • Security: Rack servers can be kept inside a cabinet. This provides protection from insects, dust, weather, spills, and much more.

Because of all these reasons, we recommend rack servers as the best server for a small office. You can get really good rack server deals if you look around.

Benefits of a Personally hosted server over a Cloud-based server

After deciding to migrate your applications and data to a rack server, you need to make another important decision. Should you set up a server yourself and host it on your premises, or sign up for a cloud-hosted server?

We recommend that you host the small office server on your premises for the following reasons:

  • You will not be dependent on the Internet to access your files and data. You still have access to your server and can use it, even if the internet goes down for a few hours – or a few days.
  • The company operating the cloud server may go out of business. In this case, you will be cut off from your data, bringing your business to a halt.
  • You can implement your own security standards. In the cloud, the server on which your files are stored may be shared with other companies. This can cause security issues.
  • You own the server. So, you can customise it according to your needs. And you can upgrade if your needs change.
  • A cloud service provider takes care of handling all changes as your business scales. But this comes at a cost. As your business grows, your monthly cloud expenses will rise. With your on-premises server, there is a higher initial outlay, but then you have much better control over costs.
  • The performance of many tasks, such as word processing, video editing, and some programming activities is much faster with an on-premise server.

Setting up a rack server

As stated earlier, rack servers are installed in vertical, rectangular frames called racks. A rack chassis may be several feet high and can house multiple servers on top of each other.

How to store a rack server with a rack mount

A rack (also called a rack mount) contains many slots (also called bays), each designed to hold a hardware unit (the server). The servers are screwed into place in each slot. A rack server is built to be space-efficient.

One rack chassis can contain many servers stacked above each other. This allows the consolidation of networking resources. It also minimises the floor space required. This configuration simplifies cabling.

How a rack server saves space

Rack servers are generally built to fit snugly in a 19-inch square and 1.75-inch-high bay. Each 1.75-inch rack unit is referred to by the unit U. A standard full-size rack frame is 42U. The server hardware is usually measured in heights of 1U to 4U.

You can move rack servers easily and position them in tight spaces, even when you have several racks stacked one above another.

In closing
Servers, rack servers, and their benefits

You have seen that a small business server is basically a PC. Servers are meant for continuous and heavy use, so the components in them are engineered to be robust.

Servers differ from PCs in that they tend to have more CPUs, and more cores per CPU, to support multitasking. A server needs to receive and process requests from many users, so it needs to have more memory (RAM) compared to a PC.

Cooling is usually handled by built-in fans, thereby cutting down on cost and maintenance.

We recommend that you use a rack server to scale up your business. A rack server is the best small business server.

Rack servers are a type of server housed in frames called racks. They are built in such a way that more CPUs, memory, and storage can be easily added as demand grows. They are a good option if you think that you will need more powerful servers in the future as your business expands.

Rack servers take up hardly any space. Because of their compact size, rack servers can be placed in a closet, on the desk next to your laptop, or on a shelf. They can also be mounted on walls.

Overall, a rack server is the best server for the money.

On-premise servers or cloud servers

We have seen that you can choose between using your own company-owned servers and cloud-based systems. We recommend that you set up your own servers for the following reasons:

Opting to buy a physical server and installing it on your premises involves a higher upfront cost. But not paying recurring monthly fees means that it is likely to work out cheaper for you in the long run, as your business grows. You will also have greater control over how the server is set up.

A hosted server gives you complete ownership of your data.

You can access your data quickly. Downloading from a remote server takes significantly longer.

The combination of cost control, superior performance, and more granular control make in-house servers superior to a cloud-hosted option.

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