I have the opportunity to buy (at a reduced price) a 6 month old Dell Power Edge 840 server with a quad core processor, 4GB RAM, 73GB SCSI in a RAID 5 configuration. It has Windows Server Standard 2003 R2 already installed. SQL server express (not sure which version) is also installed, I believe.
I know that this thing is overkill for me, but the price is about 50-60% of retail.
The setting is a one physician office, with the planned addition of a second physician.
My general goals with a server would be to network 4-6 desktop or tablet pc's and associated printers and scanners. I want to create a database of patient information anything from name and address to prescription info, etc. I want storage for scanned paper documents to limit the amount of chart space we have. All of the desktop computers use Windows XP Professional.
Also I want to be able to access the network remotely and securely using my laptop and a cellular phone modem with AT&T or via a desktop PC at my hospital using a standard web browser ( using an "https
:" url.) The server already has some sort of VPN router attached. Connection to the outside is via DSL.
I know there are commercial products out there for the clinical database. They are way too expensive and also overkill for my narrow specialty practice.
Can I use this server for all my goals: Network, VPN, database, document storage? If I want to create and host a modest website for my patients, can I use this unit for that too or do I need a separate server with a dedicated Web Server? I know that eventually using a professional web host is better but I don't need much bandwidth. Are thy any other options to consider? Remember, I can get this unit for about $1800 and he paid $3300.
For the VPN connection - you're going to need to set this up through your firewall. You should have a firewall in place between your server and the rest of the world - don't rely on the software on the server being able to protect itself from outside attempts at entry. If you're not sure of how to do this - hire a local company that does computer security. You want to be sure your network is safe - especially given the laws surrounding unauthorized release of private medical data and records.
Although it may sound good sized, a 73GB drive is not that large when you start saving scanned documents to it. For the data storage - pick up an external drive (pretty sure I saw 1TB for about $150 the other day), attach it to the server through a usb port, and use that for your storage. Also, if you save scanned docs as .tiff files, they should come in a bit smaller than .pdf or other formats. You may well be alright with the space on the server itself for a while - but for the cost, getting an additional external drive is well worth it.
As far as the web site - I'd recommend going with offsite hosting. Not because of bandwidth - but because a web site is the most easily exploited (and most visible) piece of your network. If you really want to host your own site - then put it on a separate server separated from the rest of the network by a dmz by the firewall. That way if your web site gets compromised, at least it isn't an open portal into the rest of of the server.
I think you're getting a very good price on the server - jump at it.