As many of you reading this post are doing your 2017 planning and perhaps purchasing end of the year office equipment, I thought it was timely to answer the question, “Do I still need a physical server in my office?”
The short and simple answer is that many small contracting companies do not need a server anymore. Technology has advanced so much in recent years to where most software companies have moved their products to the “Cloud” (online). Each year, a local server becomes less important and more expensive to maintain.
If you are trying to save money on your IT needs, I’d recommend taking the steps to see if your business can survive without a local server. A server plays a number of different roles depending on how you have it setup. It can help with internal communication between users (computers), calendar syncing, sending/receiving emails, back up of financial data, storing files and printing of documents. All of these features can be done using online programs.
All You Need to Run a Business without a Local Server
The first step to getting rid of your server is selecting if you want to commit to Microsoft or Google to run your organization’s email, calendar, contacts & files. Start there. Both companies offer very similar services for just about the same price. It cost range is between $4 to $10 a month per employee. For example, if you sign up for Google’s services, called “G Suites” you’d pay a monthly (or annual fee) for each users which would give him/her access to a company email, shared contacts, calendar and a filing system to store folders/files. Everything would be run using the Internet with a number of options for offline features (if the Internet is not available).
I did a presentation earlier this year explaining how to run a business “in the Cloud.” Take a look at these two screenshots that visualize what I am talking about:
Essentials of your business (everyone needs 1 & 2)
3, 4 & 5 Are Almost Just as Important
As you can see, I recommend and use G Suites. This is really not because Google is that much better than Microsoft’s 365. No, Google just got into the online game before Microsoft. They were still stuck on pushing Microsoft Exchange and helping people stick with their local servers. Google came out on top years ago when they created “Google Apps for Business” (changed to G Suites in the Fall of 2016). Many businesses began to move their companies to Google Apps because it saved on IT cost. Perhaps the biggest reason is that it did not tie the company or its employees to work from just one central location. When you use tools like G Suites, Microsoft 365 or even Apple’s iCloud platform, you can work from just about anywhere in the world with an internet connection and be just as productive.
When I worked in my dad’s painting business from around 2000-2008, we called the local computer repair guys ALL THE TIME. I am not joking. They seemed to be in our offices every single month, paying them thousands and thousands every year to keep our computers, our servers, our email etc working. If one little thing stopped working, BOOM, there went a day of non productivity.
Since switching to the cloud, besides an internet outage, I have never had an IT guy come to my office to fix my G Suites. I am also able to help many of my customers around the country fix most “problems’ remotely by sharing their screen or showing them how to “fix” it themselves.
So without making this post longer, my goal here is to really just say that if you are stuck on a server and run a small business, consider moving to an online platform. If you commit to using it, it will save your company perhaps thousands of dollars in IT cost and may even help save your files and storage in the event your local server crashes or natural disaster happens.