With so many different types of servers on the market, choosing the right server for your business can be a daunting task. Our experience can help take the pain out of this selection process by carefully identifying your business needs and then specifying a server solution based on a number of criteria including number of end-users, software requirements, performance, mission criticality, scalability, efficiency, physical environment and of course budget. We have expertise with a wide range of server applications from simple file/print servers to database servers and network domain controllers with new and existing active directory implementations.
High Availability Systems
Due to the mission critical nature of server systems, it is important to maximise availability and eliminate costly downtime. Ensuring that there is built-in redundancy is especially important when it comes to servers. We recommend implementing redundancies at all possible levels including hard drive, memory, network card and power supply. This increases availability and ensures that the server should continue to function even in the event of certain component failures.
Server Operating Systems
Our engineers work extensively with Microsoft Server operating systems including Windows 2003 SBS, Standard and Enterprise Editions and the newest Windows 2008 server operating system.
Virtualisation is a proven technology and offers a way of running multiple virtual servers or machines on a single physical server. Virtualisation has many benefits, the foremost being increased hardware utilisation. It has been estimated that most Windows physical server systems run at only 15-25% utilisation. Under-utilised server hardware can cost your business in terms of capital and running costs.
There are many virtualisation solutions available, some geared towards small businesses and others for data centres. We would be happy to tailor a virtualisation solution to suit your business requirements and your budget.
Benefits of Virtualisation
- Save physical space with smaller data centre footprint.
- Reduce hardware costs.
- Reduce energy consumption.
- Smaller carbon footprint.
- Rapid deployment of new servers.
- High availability and easy migration.
Each year, data loss costs businesses substantial amounts of revenue in terms of lost productivity, lost customers and lost business information. While you can protect your business information as much as is possible, at some stage data will be lost due to hardware, software or human error. A recent study found that up to 7% of consumer grade hard disk drives will fail each year, with the average lifespan of a hard drive estimated at approximately 5 years.
The importance of a reliable data storage infrastructure and data security policy cannot be over-emphasised. Ensuring that your data is stored on a reliable and fault tolerant storage infrastructure and backed up daily is of huge importance to business continuity. We also recommend implementing a data security policy and setting privilege levels for employees accessing data, using encryption where appropriate.
Centralised Storage Solutions
There are a variety of centralised storage solutions including Storage Area Networks (SANs) and Network Attached Storage (NAS). Storage Area Networks offer enterprise class high availability storage and are recommended as a centralised storage platform for multiple mission critical servers. We have long experience with a range of SANs on both iSCSI and fibre channel fabrics. Utilising the latest iSCSI and fibre channel technologies, we can implement a redundant and high availability centralised storage solution for your mission critical business files and applications.
Network Attached Storage offers a centralised storage and file sharing platform for servers and workstations. NAS is usually significantly less expensive than a SAN and is especially suited for sharing files and applications to both servers and workstations.
Direct Attached Storage and Server Storage
There are many types of Direct Attached Storage (DAS) available designed to directly attach to your systems to increase storage capacity. DAS can be a very cost effective way of increasing storage capacity for your servers or workstations. When it comes to server storage, we strongly recommend implementing a redundant array of disks to ensure that your business can continue to function in the event of single disk failures. There are multiple levels of redundant disk arrays and we can recommend a solution based on the type of server, application and budget.
Our consultants can recommend the best backup solution for your business needs taking into account your business requirements and budget. In order to ensure that your data is safe, we recommend performing full daily backups of all data. Our engineers have a wide range of experience implementing a variety of backup solutions for businesses of all sizes and can recommend the best solution to fit your business. We also offer an online backup service that offers an innovative, reliable, secure and cost effective method of backing up your mission critical files to offsite data centres, without the need for changing tapes.
Data Protection and Backup Guidelines
- Full daily backups, more than one media set, weekly, monthly backups.
- Off site replication where possible.
- Monthly data restore tests.
- Disaster recovery plan in place.
- Data encryption on laptops.
Best-fit Computer Workstations for your Business
At GPS IT Services Ltd we only recommend business class computer workstations from the most reputable vendors. Choosing these workstations will offer a better return on investment and a lower total cost of ownership than non-branded or custom built machines. The aim of our consultants is to work in partnership with you, using the information you provide, to ascertain what workstation is the best fit for your business. Some of the factors to consider in the decision making process are reliability, scalability, warranty, performance, cost, size and energy efficiency. There may also be special needs/accessibility issues to take into account.
Computer Workstations and Productivity
Choosing the right computer workstation can have a significant impact on the productivity of your employees. A slow, unstable or unreliable workstation can significantly hamper the productivity of key employees and result in wasted time and money. Studies have shown that computer workstation ergonomics can also impact on the productivity of end-users. Having clear, large displays positioned at the correct height level, eliminating extended reaching and using docking stations for laptop users can help create a better ergonomic and more productive environment for your end-users.
Our consultants work with a number of operating systems. We currently recommend Microsoft Windows 7 and Windows XP Professional for most businesses.
GPS IT Services Ltd work with industry leading anti-virus vendors and can customise a centralised anti-virus solution for your servers and workstations. We recommend a holistic approach to securing your workstations including running a personal firewall, updated anti-virus and anti-spyware/adware programmes and ensuring all operating system updates are installed in a timely manner. We also recommend running routine full system scans to check for malware. Ensuring that an adequate security policy is in place and that end-users do not have over-privileged access is also of significant importance.
Recommended Steps to Protect Your Computer Workstations
- Run a personal firewall at all times.
- Run up-to-date anti-virus and anti-adware/spyware software.
- Install operating system and application updates in a timely manner.
- Implement a company group security policy for workstations on your network.
- Do not allow users to run in over-privileged access modes.
Our engineers have experience installing a variety of messaging systems including Microsoft Exchange. We recommend Microsoft Exchange for most scenarios, however we also work with a number of other mail server solutions including Kerio Connect (Previously known as Kerio MailServer), which offers a cost effective solution for small businesses. Kerio Connect has all of the functionality of Microsoft Exchange, but offers a lower total cost of ownership.
No matter what the nature of your business, it is important to communicate effectively and convey a professional image through print media. For many companies, print infrastructure comes as an afterthought to their network and server deployment. Ensuring that your print infrastructure is reliable and can cope with the volume of print jobs is important to ensure that there is no lost productivity with employees waiting for documents to print or for an engineer to replace yet another part in an unreliable printer. Whether you go for numerous workgroup printers or a centralised print solution, our consultants can recommend the best printing hardware to suit your business.
Lowering your Print Costs
It is more important now than ever to keep print costs to a minimum. It is estimated that approximately 3% of your company’s revenue is spent on printing. A recent study found that up to 30% savings could be made by deploying smart printing policies and solutions. Matching the right print hardware to your business and establishing a print policy are important steps to keeping costs down. A toner recycling programme can also help lower costs while benefitting the environment. Various printer vendors now offer a toner collection and recycling programme.
- Invest in modern energy efficient laser printers.
- Use toner economy settings.
- Enable duplex printing.
- Use desktop fax functionality.
- Implement a company wide print policy and control access to colour printing.
- Adopt a toner recycling programme.
- Document Management, Scan and Fax Functionality
Document security is an important issue for a growing number of businesses. Many employees send sensitive information to printers over the network for collection at a later time. With printer and mailbox security, it is possible for your users to send confidential documents to a secure mailbox on the printer and only print it off when they are physically at the machine. It is also possible to use data encryption for additional security when sending confidential documents to print.