What is Server Management?
Today, more companies than ever are dependent on IT. One of the reasons for this development is the ongoing digitization, which extends to more and more areas of life. The basis of many IT functions is proper server management. After all, this server management is essential for your data storage, emails, software, and website hosting. Therefore, most IT functions would easily break down if there were no reliably functioning servers.
What is Server Management?
Server management is the process of managing hardware and software components of servers in an effort to have the servers function as expected. Whether you’ve termed it server management or not, if you have a server, server management is part of your organization. Server management usually starts when you get a new server and ends when you decommission the server or, in some cases, even after.
There are different tasks involved in server management. Depending on the use case, you might have different specialists taking care of different tasks, or you might have one or a few people for it. You can have different types of servers based on what you use them for, but you can also categorize servers based on where they exist. So let’s look at the different types of servers you can have.
How does it work?
How server management works depends entirely on the type of server. Virtual servers require software updates, but the company providing the service usually maintains and monitors all the hardware. A physical device, on the other hand, will require both hardware and software monitoring, usually by the same person doing server management.
A computer is made up of a set of components. This is no different for servers. The most common components are the central processing unit (CPU), random access memory (RAM), power source, hard disk, etc. which are all connected through a motherboard. Hardware management includes monitoring these resources individually to avoid overtaxing the available resources.
The software also requires monitoring to ensure its optimal performance. This includes knowing what software is installed as well as what programs and applications are constantly running vs which are not. This also includes installing updates for the software (when available) based on the current system resources.
Who needs Server Management?
Every business that owns or relies on a server requires server management. From one-person operations to an enterprise with a stacked data center, server management is not optional. The only question is if you can self-manage your equipment or hire a third party to do the job.
If you have the personnel with the proper skill set, managing servers in-house offers total control over the environment. When the team lacks experience, outsourcing server management makes more sense than investing in training and new employees.
If you choose the in-house option, you need a server management tool to automate processes and provide insights into the equipment. Not all solutions offer the same features, however, so consider the following factors when looking for the right tool:
- Ensure the solution can work with all server types and apps in your stack.
- Look for a program with an intuitive UI and visualization capabilities that simplify advanced tasks.
- The software should allow the team to set thresholds and custom alerts.
- The tool should provide an abundance of detailed, thorough data about the state of the server.
- Consider how much training the staff will require before they start using the tool.
- Look for a solution that offers rich automation features that streamline workflow and help employees save time.
Some companies choose to rely on a mix of in-house management and outsourcing. A popular option is to have the in-house staff handle software and hardware management while an outsourced expert works on server security and backups.
Advantages of Server Management
You can find outstanding benefits with server management:
- Reliability: Your business relies on the servers performing properly and the monitoring is as accurate as possible. With on-call technical support and assistance from a certified expert, your environment remains stable.
- Effectiveness: Effective server management means replacing necessary hardware before failure and backing up your data efficiently.
- Security and peace of mind: Server management provides security in knowing that software updates and patches are completed.
- Cost savings: Effective management of your server means that your overall maintenance costs remain low.
Disadvantages of Server Management
Drawbacks in server management are more specific on a case-by-case basis. There isn’t a real disadvantage in server management because, in the end, if your organization relies on servers or a network, you need server management. However, there are cases where you may not benefit from internal server management. You may have an in-house technician or IT department, but you need to make sure they have the latest training, the best tools with licenses, etc. With external server management, you don’t need to worry about these things.
Common Types of Servers
You may encounter servers in a wide variety of forms that each serve specific functions but there are some common types of servers that you will most likely be involved with managing. Understanding what each server does will help you ensure they’re operating properly.
- File Transfer Protocol (FTP) servers handle transferring data files back and forth between servers and devices.
- Application servers connect and run applications used by a large number of users and remove the need to host applications locally.
- Web servers display websites in browsers and collect and store website files.
- Database Servers store large amounts of data needed by organizations to function and make this information accessible.
- Virtual servers, also known as virtual machines (VM), make it possible for multiple servers to be hosted on a single piece of hardware. They are more complex to manage but increase efficiency by allowing admins to add more computing power with less hardware.
- Proxy servers create and maintain the connection between a client and an external server.
Modern organizations rely on their IT to function. The foundation of a reliable, working IT environment is servers that are tracked and maintained by professionals. There are several best practices for managing the hardware and software involved in server operation, and when followed, these guidelines can help ensure working, efficient technology with minimal downtime.
Several tools are available to aid in managing servers, but for organizations without an in-house IT team, the best solution may be to outsource this task to outside professionals.