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Can a server save you money?

Adding a server to your business could help you curb costs

You may already know how a server can benefit your business. How it provides a central place to store and access business data. How it allows you to easily create a backup copy of all your information. And how it enables you to set up security measures to thwart attacks over the internet.

But can a server save your business money? Well, according to a survey of two dozen companies that were early users of Windows Small Business Server 2003, it can. The companies found that operating costs dropped significantly after installing a server — significantly enough that in many cases they recouped their hardware and software investment in less than one month. And almost all the companies reported recovering their hardware and software investments in less than 10 weeks.

Where did these savings come from? Much of it was credited to productivity gains achieved through their server deployment. Adding a server helped create a better organised, more efficient and easier-to-manage technology environment. In short, the companies were able to accomplish more without adding more workers.

One example: A manager pointed to the enhanced productivity attained by Windows Small Business Server's ability to run a private company website, or intranet site. Windows SharePoint Services, a Windows Small Business Server tool, enabled companies to create intranet sites that served as central repositories for company documents which employees could easily access and work on from their PCs. The manager estimated her company was saving 15 to 20 percent of the time employees spent searching for and retrieving information.

More cost-cutting benefits

In addition to fostering a more organised workplace, adding a server to your business brings about other cost-cutting opportunities, including:

Reduced IT spending:
Purchasing server hardware and software will have a financial impact, but over time it can save you from spending even more for hardware additions and technology consultants to keep your current computer setup running and secure. Moreover, the server software made for small business today allows you to avoid extra IT consulting expenses. It's designed to be easy to install and managed by in-house employees without advanced technical skills.

Reduce office space requirements:
Office space is a high overhead item for a business. There are lease payments, utility costs and various other expenses to absorb. With a server-based office network, you have the option of shrinking your office space needs. You can enable both contract workers and fulltime employees to work from a home office or any offsite location using the "remote" connection capabilities of a server. With Windows Small Business Server 2003, remote workers are able to connect to your business network to send and receive e-mail, work with files and access the company intranet site. And, while it's a good idea to schedule regular face-to face meetings with offsite workers, you won't need to provide them with desks and other onsite accessories.

Reduce travel and delivery expenses:
As discussed earlier, adding a server to your business allows you to create intranet sites that help employees easily find information and collaborate on projects. However, you can also share these sites with select partners, customers and clients, extending your online collaboration capabilities. You can conveniently share documents, photos and other important materials with business associates — reducing the number of meetings and associated travel required. You can also cut back use of delivery services to move paper documents to partners and customers. Clients using your extranet can view and print documents straight from the site.

Preventing costly mishaps:
Adding a server to your business provides an opportunity to reduce costs, but is also a powerful tool in holding down expenditures. A server offers more sophisticated tools for protecting your business data, securing it from internet attacks and recovering it if lost.


The security features include:

A firewall helps prevent intruders from gaining access to your business network and important files. Damage caused by attacks from intruders can be costly to repair, or even put you out of business. Windows Small Business Server includes a powerful internal firewall that you easily configure using a built-in wizard. It also supports external firewalls.

File back-ups:
Keeping a back-up copy of all your data is critical for a business. Equipment failure, viruses, power surges and other disasters can wipe out vital customer and account information stored on your computer system. Windows Small Business Server includes the Backup Configuration Wizard to guide you through creating and implementing a successful data backup strategy so that you can recover your data.

Can a server save you money? The cost-cutting opportunities and disaster prevention capabilities alone would indicate so. And when you add in a server's ability to streamline operations and enable employees to focus on revenue-producing work, investing in a server looks like one of the strongest technology investments a small business can make.

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