Your Server, the elusive object that everyone in the office talks about. Employees put things on it, work delays are blamed on it and the IT sneaks off to "check on it". But what can it really do? Do you need it, have it or underutilizing it? Microsoft Windows servers are the pinnacle of the brands Operating Systems and have many unique and powerful features to increase security, productivity, and connectivity. Knowing more about the capabilities of a Windows Server will let you unlock these tools and truly maximize your computing power.
Storage and Redundancy
A very common use for servers is to store and distribute vital data between users. It should be noted that some servers are even designed for this sole purpose of housing databases like a Microsoft SQL server. Windows servers allow for epic amounts of data to be safely and securely stored, shared and managed. Whats more, is that it allows for storage to be scaled with the needs of the organization by adding or removing physical drives without needing specific SAN (Storage Area Network) storage. The storage management features of Windows Server Operating Systems also allows for scheduled backups (or other tasks) which will save headaches from accidental deletion or even crashes among users.
With all of that valuable information stored on a server, it is important to focus on security measures taken. One large security feature offered my Windows Server is Just Enough Administration this focuses on the issue that a network is only secure as its weakest member. If a member of your network becomes exposed due to unsafe practices or behavior any infiltrator could gain access to the Server and network. JEA mitigates this risk by reducing the number of Admins in the system, limiting users functions and providing logs of what users are doing or attempting to do. Security is often a large selling point for Windows Server OS as it provides top quality security within an interface that users are familiar and comfortable with. More Security features available on Windows Servers can be found here.
Automation and Network
While any PC is well acquainted with automating processes servers can take it to a new level, especially when running Windows. Through PowerShell scripts, sysadmins can script anything that would be down through the graphical interface of a PC terminal. This automation process could be rolled out across the server to not only automate maintenance and backups of the Server itself but also to perform daily tasks across the network. These scripts, and even applications written in .NET, PHP, JAVA etc, can also be shared via the Server network to be accessed and run from any terminal or device connected to it. Creating this controlled network can be invaluable to many organizations opening up the ability to transfer, share and secure data and work. Networks allow users freedom from being tied to a single machine. Unless a user is storing files and applications locally instead of on the network they could take their personalized machine with them anywhere within the network. With Windows Servers these network systems can be managed separately from the hardware it utilizes, this means that networks can be saved, replicated or even moved when new hardware is needed to update or replace existing hardware.
Choosing a Server
So with these and many more powerful features its easy to see why virtually all organizations utilize servers, but there are several different versions and features available with varying prices. Selecting the correct one can be challenging and costly, it is typically wise to get your IT specialist involved in selecting one and communicate your needs to them. There are also comparison charts across different years and versions of servers highlighting their features. A key to remember when looking to purchase a Windows Server is that CALs (Client Access License) are needed to connect to the Server running the OS. The cost of these can be mitigated by utilizing licenses for users or machines, but this can potentially limit some features of networking off of the server. Again it can be valuable to consult IT and or sellers to determine the optimum solution for CALs and Server Software to suit your needs.