Regardless of the size of your enterprise, the health of your IT infrastructure, including both hardware and software components, is vital to maintaining a competitive edge in a hyper-competitive global market. At the center of your IT system are your servers which require continual management and maintenance to ensure their longevity and ongoing efficiency.
Scalability, server downtime, and system-wide security updating and monitoring are just a few examples of the routine checks and balances within server management. These are crucial job functions of your system admin that, if not correctly performed, will significantly increase the risk of systemic failure. In the digital age, excessive downtime or security breaches will cost you time, money, and will negatively impact your brand’s trustworthiness.
When it comes to finding the right expert or team of experts to handle server management, small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) often have a more modest budget than their larger competitors. Consequently, SMBs tend to encounter a common dilemma:
In the IT world, the term “server” has different contexts: physical servers, virtual servers, remote servers, application servers, etc. Each server type has a specific set of protocols for continuous monitoring and management. As a general rule within server management, you’ll need to check, update, and/or troubleshoot the following on at least monthly basis:
Also, your server management team will need to validate your backups, perform various security checks, change passwords, and assess user accounts (e.g., are there any users that should be removed or shifted to different access levels?). These activities are only a snapshot of your recurring maintenance schedule; your servers need daily and weekly audits as well.
Furthermore, as your business scales and technologies shift, your IT needs will evolve. In turn, new servers may be added or removed; this entails careful configuration and reconfiguration. In short, server management is an end-to-end responsibility that includes server setup, nonstop maintenance, unceasing optimization, and impenetrable security measures.
All businesses need server management in some capacity. Certainly, depending on the size and scope of your IT architecture, an in-house system administrator or server management team (or individual) may be more cost-effective; but only in the short-term.
There are tools that can help streamline maintenance and optimization processes. But, as network demands increase, you may find that a services provider can offer faster turnaround times at a lower cost. Indeed, even small companies can greatly benefit from hiring a server management vendor.
Overall, a server management company helps you to outsource the responsibilities that your in-house system admin or server management team would provide (as described above). Each company offers different types of services which may be a la carte or service “bundles.”
Some providers focus solely on hardware management such as cleaning, heat management, airflow assessment and improvements, wiring and connectivity issues, reviewing hardware error logs, etc. Others specialize in software server security, updates, and data backups. Meanwhile, there are vendors who offer comprehensive services for both your hardware and software server requirements.
Since your business needs are unique, the company you choose should work closely with you to determine the best-fit approach for your server maintenance and monitoring. They should be completely up to date on the latest server technologies and offer a high degree of accessibility, either through a dedicated customer support team or via an account manager.
The U.S. average for a full-time system administrator is just over $60,000 per year. That cost does not take into account added costs such as benefits packages or employer taxes.
Moreover, in addition to the monthly, weekly, and daily server monitoring, updating, and troubleshooting, your in-house team or individual must be perpetually “in the know” about new vs. old tech such as new hardware and software compatibility issues, the never-ending stream of software updates and patches, and the eternal battle with fending off hacker attack vectors.
For smaller enterprises, having one only one in-house person assigned to server management duties may be feasible to a certain point. When expansion becomes imminent, however, you’ll be faced with a choice: broaden your team, which adds expensive labor costs and offsets the potential uptick in revenue, or contract with a well-regarded and established server management company that has a proven track record of customer satisfaction.
While server management vendors differ as to their pricing models, they are typically far less costly than having a full-time system admin, or team, on your payroll. Monthly service subscriptions tend to range between $100 and $500. Within that monthly service cost, a majority, if not all providers offer 24/7 monitoring. So if server disruption occurs at midnight, they’ll quickly respond to mitigate and resolve the issue.
In terms of skills and experience, server management companies are constantly working with a wide array of clientele throughout several distinct industries. Their entire business model is built on being “in the know” when shifts happen in the server tech industry. In order to maintain the aforementioned “competitive edge,” they also need to understand how those changes will affect their clients. Thus, their team exists within a persistent state of knowledge updating.
Summarily, outsourcing your server management services can drastically reduce your IT costs while keeping your network secure and operating efficiently.
Ultimately, the decision to contract with a vendor comes down to time, cost, and scope. This is an individualized decision that requires a multifactorial assessment of your business needs and business logic. You may not need to completely outsource all of your server maintenance and monitoring. A professional server management company will be able to help you clearly determine which outsourcing path perfectly aligns with your business objectives.