Tag Archive for 'Lotus'

21st century servers designed specifically for small business

Do you know what this term means: peer-to-peer? How about this one: server-based? These are terms that describe how computer environments are structured.

Peer-to-peer means stand-alone PCs are at every workstation and are only connected to each other, if at all, over a local network, typically to deliver Internet connection. This is de-centralized management of computer activity, where each PC has its own programs and files, plus performs its own data back-up and security. File sharing is possible, but not very elegant.

Peer-to-peer is the default environment for small businesses because of the way most of us begin and grow: one desktop at a time.

A server-based environment is the next level up from peer-to-peer. Growing small businesses find that a server set-up provides more control for file management and sharing, data back-up and security, plus efficiency and cost-control when growth calls for added workstations.

A server is a computer that is stripped of everything but the central processing unit (CPU) and a hard drive, and is designed to “serve” workstations that have the monitors, keyboards, etc. A server-based system means there is at least one server that delivers processing power to multiple workstations. All programs, applications, files, storage, back-up and security resides on these central units, instead of at the desktop. And file sharing? Servers were born to share files the way Tiger Woods was born to play golf.

Here’s the next question: How does a small business know when to make the leap from peer-to-peer to server?

Having a server configuration has long been seen as something for big businesses. And historically, a peer-to-peer environment had to be so unproductive that getting rid of its operational pain had to be worse than the conversion challenges that came with making the jump to a server system.

Until now. Enter the server appliance.

This device is a multi-purpose box with a server in it designed to virtually eliminate conversion headaches. Just plug the appliance into an electric outlet and then plug your own local area network into it and bada-bing, bada-bam you’re server-based, baby, with all of the advantages of central data back-up, security, file sharing – even a phone system. Plus, when you add a new person, you don’t have to buy new software programs for the added workstation..

Several IT companies offer server appliances, including IBM’s Lotus Foundations, Iomega, HP, just to name a few. Most work with a local small business computer company, so contact one in your area and let them help you decide if it’s time to make the jump to a server platform and which system is best for you.

Small business owners, in the 21st century you don’t have to be big to be server-based.

Recently, I talked about peer-to-peer and server-based on my radio program, The Small Business Advocate Show. Take a few minutes to listen, and as always, be sure to leave a comment.

Small business conversion to a server environment made easier

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.

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