Small Business Technology Needs – Hardware
The basic hardware that fulfills small business technology needs includes desktop PCs, Servers, networking equipement, printers/scanners, and other hardware needed to operate a small business. These devices need to be extremely reliable because outages are expensive hits to employee productivity.
Small Business Technology Needs – Computers / Laptops
These are typically the workhorse of every businesses day to day activity. For typical office workers they don’t have to be incredibly powerful, but it is important that they be extremely reliable. Each manufacturer typically builds computers for the businesses and for home. The business line is slightly more expensive, but they are generally more reliable over the long run. Especially the laptops.
For example Dell Vostro laptops are targeted for home users and their Latitude series is targeted at business users. One key difference for small businesses is that the Latitude series works with docking stations. A docking statioin makes it very easy for a user to connect their laptop to a monitor, keyboard, mouse and the company network. The docking station allows the user to have a very comfortable work environment, yet easily take the laptop on the road. A laptop can be a critical component to fulfilling small business technology needs.
For more specific information see Small Business Technology Needs – PC’s and Mobile Devices.
Small Business Technology Needs – Servers
A server is an extremely reliable computer that is used for all common functions within a business. They will typically a run a server operating system, such as Windows Server 2008 R2, that provides secure storage for common files, access to shared printers, and security for your network by authenticating users.
Servers typically have more memory, disk storage, and computing power than typical desktop computers. Increased memory helps to eliminate processor bottlenecks, enabling you to load applications faster and retrieve data more efficiently, so your server can respond very quickly. Increased storage allows for larger files, databases, and other information for your business. More expensive servers allow for more memory, disk storage, and processors so a single server can scale up to handle a great deal of data and users. Servers are also critical for application virtualization.
Small Business Technology Needs – Networking Routers, Firewalls, and Switches
Every small business needs to share information and access the internet. The Router / Firewalls provide internet access to and from the outside world. Switches connect all of the computers within the business to each other. Routers decide which network communication needs to go outside your business to the internet. Firewalls protect your network from the outside world and are often integrated into routers. Many network providers supply a router / firewall with their services.
Small Business Technology Needs – Printers / Scanners / Fax Machine / Copier
Small business printers are one of the most used, yet least reliable machines in an office. They are mechanical, so the do wear out. Investing in a quality laser printer generally pays off over time. Most printers are measured by their duty cycle (number of pages printed per month). For relatively inexpensive small business printers the range from 8,000 to 35,000. Another factor for small business printers is the cost per page to print. This is driven the cost of the drum cartridge. For example if a drum cartridge costs $100 and produces up to 12,000 pages, it costs 0.8 cents per page. Black and white printers have much lower per page printing costs the color printers.
Mulit-function printers are combination printer, scanner, fax machine and copier. These devices are great for their flexibility, convenience and all-in-one package. If your users do a lot of scanning, it would be better to get a dedicated device like a Fujitsu ScanSnap. The multi-function printers well for limited copying. If you need high volume copying or features like sorting and collating, then you’re better off going with a dedicated copier.
One critical function for shared scanners is the ability to e-mail the scanned document to the user who has scanned it. For this feature to work, the scanner needs the flexibility to configure how it sends e-mail.
Small Business Technology Needs – Backup Systems
Backup deserves it’s own special section even though it’s components are basically hardware and software. It’s extremely important to have a reliable means to backup your valuable company data, and more importantly, the ability to restore it.
Quality backup includes the software to backup the various applications that are running on your servers including e-mail, databases, and system files. It must
Small Business Technology Needs – UPS / Uninterruptable Power Supplies
Losing power is an uncommon event, but it does happen. It’s important for the critical systems survive intermittent outages, and have the ability to shut down if needed. A quality uninterruptable power supply (UPS) protects systems form outages and also protects the hardware from power spikes and brown-outs. This is truly boring hardware, but it’s very important to protect your servers.