What is a server? Pros, cons and comparisons
Because most people have never needed to utilize a server, there are common misconceptions. Servers aren’t necessarily more powerful than PCs, often times they aren’t as expensive, and sometimes they look exactly like a PC. This naturally leads to the questions: ‘What is a server?’ and ‘What does a server do?’
Simply put, they are designed to be reliable while operating 24/7 and to efficiently distribute and store data.
Benefits of Servers
Servers are a popular type of IT equipment, but they can also be quite costly. Understanding the benefits of using them is important for determining whether they are a good investment in a given situation. The following are among the most significant advantages of using a server:
- Scalability – Servers are designed specifically for multiple computers to connect to and access resources. Standard PCs are much more limited in this, so it isn’t possible to scale up as your needs grow.
- Reliability – Servers are built with higher-grade components than typical PCs, which means they are more reliable. In addition, most servers have built-in redundancy to help avoid downtime even if one part fails.
- Cost – While a server is more expensive up front, it can save you money in the long run. For example, since many people can access it, you often don’t need as many software licenses. In addition, you can buy more modest PCs and have the server do the bulk of the processing and other work.
- Easier Support – Servers run software and offer other services to lots of users. Having everything in one place makes it easier to configure and support for a large group of people.
- Collaboration – Saving files and other things onto a server makes collaborating with other people much easier. Everyone can access the same information and work together on projects.
- Power – Servers aren’t always more powerful than PCs, but there is more room to expand at the high end. High end servers allow multiple CPUs, tons of RAM slots and more storage with higher throughput than a traditional PC.
Types of Servers
There are several different ways to classify servers based on type. In many situations, it makes sense to look at servers based on the function they perform. For example, there are storage servers, print servers, database servers, application servers, and many others.
Another way to classify a server is by the physical hardware it uses. Many traditional servers look and operate just like a normal PC, but run server software so that other computers can access it. There are also larger, more powerful servers that have similar components to a normal PC, but with additional power. For example, these servers may have significantly more RAM, additional physical CPUs, and more disk space than what you would find in a normal computer.
Blade servers are very popular today because they take up much less space than a traditional server. All the components needed in each ‘blade’ are built right on, then the blade is pushed into a blade chassis. Each chassis can hold multiple blades and fits securely into a server rack for ease of access and improved security.
How to Keep Servers Safe
As with any type of computing device, you need to make sure you keep your servers safe. When it comes to server security, you need to address both physical security and software security. For software, securing a server is not unlike protecting a normal computer. Installing a good quality antivirus program and keeping the system updated and patched will help to avoid most types of problems.
The physical security of a server will depend largely on where your server is located. The following are some of the most common ways to store and protect servers:
- Data Center Servers – Most servers are in large data centers with lots of other equipment. The servers are securely kept in server racks, which make it easier to manage the device while keeping it safe. Server racks often have locks that can help to add an additional layer of protection.
- Computer Closet Servers – Computer closets another common option and essentially serve as ‘mini-data centers.’ These closets can typically have at least one server rack where equipment can be kept safe and locked away.
- Servers on Desks – While not nearly as common, some companies do have their servers sitting on a desk like a normal computer. Keeping the room locked is a good start for protecting the server. However, there are different types of racks specifically for servers on desks or to keep your server right next to you. The fact that many servers look quite similar to normal PCs can also help to disguise its value.
Regardless of the situation, RackSolutions provides all the equipment and help you need to secure your unique server.