One of the great moments in the life of a small business is the purchase of your first computer when you’re a start-up. Through this device, which will deliver all of the application power you’ll employ, you will find your way to the marketplace and, hopefully, success.
Over time, you add more computers and other peripherals, creating what has become known as a “peer-to-peer” configuration, meaning everybody in your organization has their own desktop computer, each complete with all of the software programs and the files that have been created by them.
This configuration works out well for many growing small businesses. With not-too-sophisticated configuring, the sharing of files, peripherals and Internet connection can take place over the local network. And while this system expands naturally as a business grows, it does come with limitations and creates problems, such as: multiple software licensing gets expensive, collaboration is clunky at best, and perhaps the most significant and, frankly, dangerous shortcoming of this kind of configuration is frequent, reliable and consistent backing up of the work at every workstation.
Of course, for a long time, there has been an effective way to minimize these shortcomings, by converting from peer-to-peer to a server environment. And even though a server configuration makes more sense for many more small businesses than actually take advantage of it, the conversion is often simply not made because it’s actually not all that simple. In truth, if you’re going to convert from peer-to-peer to a server system, you had better know a local computer/network support organization because installation isn’t for amateurs and maintenance is required.
But there is good news on the server conversion process in the form of something generically called an “appliance.” This is a “black box” that houses a server but also other key network elements that, together with on-line automatic diagnostic and updating capability, seriously reduces the time, expense and brain damage of making the jump to a server configuration. More and more, hardware providers are doing exciting things with appliances to help small businesses make the server conversion a lot easier.
Recently, on my small business radio program, The Small Business Advocate Show, I talked with server appliance expert, Caleb Barlow, who is with the Lotus division of IBM (LotusFoundations.com). Caleb first explained in a generic way how a server appliance works, and then how his offering works, the Lotus Foundations appliance.
I hope you’ll take a few minutes to listen to what Caleb has to say. This could be the missing productivity and efficiency piece to your business’ growth puzzle that you’ve been looking for. And be sure to leave your thoughts.