Revision [1613]

This is an old revision of ServerRequirements made by DaleScott on 2009-09-17 15:52:24.


SME Company IT Infrastructure and Server Requirements

The IT infrastructure for a typical SME-type business often includes the following features:

* Email (e.g., spam/virus protection, IMAP/POP3/web client services, ...)
* File Sharing (e.g., ad-hoc shared folders, collaborative work spaces, check in/out/modify document workflow, ...)
* ERP System (e.g., purchasing, sales, project management, manufacturing, budgeting, reporting, ...)
* Issue Tracking (e.g., customer service tickets, RMA investigation, FRACAS, ISO Non-Conformance System, ...)
* Collaborative Knowledge Base (e.g. accounting procedures, field service procedures, department policies and procedures, ...)
* Internet Connectivity (e.g., firewall, wireless and/or wired connection, routing, NAT, DHCP server, LDAP server, web server, ...)
* Database Serving (e.g., for specific applications such as webERP and also for ad-hoc purposes)
* File Backup (e.g., automated, manual, tape, disk, ...)

In addition, the following issues should also be considered:

* Purchase cost (e.g., hardware, software)
* Implementation cost (e.g., labour for planning, configuration and setup of webERP, data conversion from old format and import into webERP, ...)
* Ongoing Operations cost (e.g., labour cost associated with using webERP in the running of the SME)
* Administration and Support cost (e.g., cost of consultants to update version, implement custom features, supervise backup recovery test, ...)
* Reliability (e.g., data integrity, hardware reliability)

Dedicated servers in purpose built data centres with generator backups can be easily leased or rented, so why would an SME invest the effort to manage its own on-site server? Some reasons are:

* Large files (or large numbers of files) being stored and manipulated (e.g., mechanical CAD files and 3D models, large analysis spreadsheets, ...)
* High levels of traffic between an ERP system or other database and local clients
* Poor, unreliable or slow connectivity from business operation sites to the data centre
* Security of information (e.g., a philosophy of not allowing data outside the SME's LAN)

If an SME cannot justify an on-site server for these reasons, there is little reason operationally to have one. webERP has almost no client server load and minimal network traffic. If a reliable 2 MByte/second connection to the internet is available, often the only justification for an on-site server is for hosting large files. In this case, a dedicated NAS (network attached storage) device will likely solve the problem (in fact, even when a local server is required for email, virus/spam protection, web-application hosting, etc., a NAS appliance device is often the best solution for file serving - and may be simply a UNIX-like computer configured as a file server).

Finally, although the low cost of setting up an on-site UNIX-like server is attractive (and can have a very high level of reliability), other factors to consider include:
* On-site expertise is often needed and at a potentially significant cost (possibly through probably a support agreement with a local IT shop). Without its own in-house expertise, an SME bears the risk associated with outsourcing a critical aspect of its business to a single source.
* Should a level of security and reliability be required (or desired) that would involve backup electrical generators, fire safety and security measures, physical security measures, etc., a leased-server data centre will most certainly be a more economical solution (conversely, without putting these measures in place, an on-site server will be generally less reliable, less physically secure and have a greater risk of fire damage)
* Leased-server data centres have sufficient technical staff to provide backup for each other, and have a collective knowledge and experience that a typical SME would be unlikely to need - or able to afford
* The often-forgotten on-going maintenance of a server is effectively contracted out when using a leased server in a data centre
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