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Archive for January, 2011

Is Your Small Business Ready for a Server?

Are you or your employees sharing files by walking across the office with an USB stick? Are you emailing the same document to each other for editing, then emailing it back? Does your company use a shared calendar or just email a weekly schedule to one person who in turn emails out the details to every employee?

When your small office starts to grow, using the “sneaker net” becomes tiresome and inefficient. When this happens it may be time to consider installing a server in your office. Today’s server operating systems offer a variety of options and scalability.

Adding a server to your office will provide:

  • Networking
  • Security
  • E-mail and calendar capabilities
  • Database and line-of-business support
  • Document and printer sharing
  • Remote Access
  • Backup Support

You will be able to take advantage of these benefits and more depending on the server operating system and the needs of the office. As your business grows additional functionality can easily be switched on.

Server operating systems can be Mac OS X Server™, Windows Small Business Server™ or Windows 2003/2008 Server or even Linux. You would choose the operating system which is best suited for your current operating environment. For example, if your users use Mac OS X, a Mac based server operating system would be a better fit. This is not to say you could not use a Windows operating system, but it may require further tweaking in order to make all the pieces work together.

Mac OS Server™ and Windows Small Business Server™ have been designed with the small business in mind. Both are easy to setup and configure, but if you are unsure it is best to work with your IT Specialist. A server installation should make your life easier not create hours or days of frustration. An IT professional can configure your server that best meets your needs. When dealing the Linux, Windows 2003 Server or Windows 2008 server I would suggest you have a certified IT Professional configure these systems.

Once you have settled on the operating system you will need to select the appropriate server hardware. Your server will be handling many different processes and users at once therefor e using proper server hardware is imperative. Server hardware has been optimized for server operating systems which will provide the best performance. This is a situation providing inadequate hardware resources can seriously compromise performance and efficiently.

Adding a server can significantly increase the workflow in the office. The benefits will outweigh the initial costs very quickly. Spend the time and do the research or hire and IT Specialist and you and your small business will enjoy the benefits of a collaborative work environment.

Small Office Network Growing Pains

Do you add equipment to your office network on the fly? Are you ready to expand your network but unsure how to?  Usually the small office network has been added to as needed, without a plan for future growth.  I recommend having a plan for your technical growth and modifying it as needed.  By having a plan, you can easily add components with little disruption and downtime.

Most small businesses will have the same basic network layout when starting out. You should have a business grade Internet package, see article Taking the Less Expensive IT Route..Is It Worth It. Your connection will then connect to a router which will probably have 4 network ports and wireless connectivity. For the very small office, this is all you may need when you start out. As you grow, you will need to add additional equipment for this growth.  This may mean adding networked printers, scanners, desktops and shared file storage.

Have you decided to add additional devices but find you do not have enough network ports to accommodate this? A switch can be installed which can add 12-24 additional network ports to your existing network structure. I would recommend all fixed devices (printers, desktops etc.) be connected with a network cable. See article on Wired and Wireless networks to determine which devices should be wired.

Are you emailing documents around the office or using the “sneaker net” to transfer files? Adding a file share on your network can greatly reduce the amount of time you run a USB key to your co-working computer. A file share can be as simple as a NAS (network area storage) or even a re-purposed XP system with a shared folder. This will reduce the amount of wasted time, running files from one computer to another.

Are you hiring additional staff? Or do you requiring remote access to the office? Then it may be time to consider a server solution. Windows and Apple both provide sever solutions for small businesses. Adding a server can allow you take control of your network and devices.  A server can provide remote access, share files and provide backup storage for your computers. Watch for a follow up a blog post discussing the advantages of adding a server to your office.

These are just a few examples of hardware that can be added to expand your network. As your small business grows, your technical and network needs will also grow. Your IT Specialist can assistance you in planning and minimizing disruption when growing your network.

Lessons learned from CES 2011


Now that I have my first CES under my belt, I will be better prepared for next year’s event. Here’s a list of what I learned from CES 2011.

Facility


The most
astonishing thing at CES was not a gadget but a facility. I never had to wait to get into the ladies room. I suspect there was only 1 female to every 50 males. Along those same lines, if you are single lady this is the place to be to meet a guy, as long as you are into the geeky type.

Comfort


Running shoes are the best shoes to wear, in my opinion. I feel sorry for all the ladies’ wearing heals; I can only imagine how sore their feet will be by Sunday night. If they are working the booths, they should expense a pedicure.
Booths with plush carpets are the best. I would tend to stay in a well carpeted booth longer even if I didn’t care about the product. Along those same lines, booths with chairs are also more attractive. Add snacks at the booth and I’m there to listen to whatever.

Booth Babes and Customer Reps


I will never enter a booth when the booth is manned by a booth babe. I know sex sells, but I find this tactic offensive. If a company feels the only way to get people into a booth is to use sex, then maybe it means their product cannot stand on its own merit. Even worse than booth babes, asking your female to staff to dress provocatively. The fully dressed female Intel spokesperson was more “sexy” and convincing when demonstrating the new Intel chip, than any of the other company representatives with plunging necklines.

Documenting the Show


In preparation for CES, I purchased a memory card for my BlackBerry. I had no problem taking lots of pics, but the quality was not a good as I would have liked. Next year I will bring a decent camera that also has video capability.

Playing with the Gadgets


The best time to get “hands-on” with the gadgets or to speak to a customer rep was first thing in the morning.  I found this was the best time to speak to the reps as there was less traffic in the booths than mid-day.  The reps were also less tired than at the end of a long day on the floor.

Categories: CES
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