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Can a web server (with new application being developed) do the functions of our Head Office servers?

Posted on 2016-11-21
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Last Modified: 2016-11-29
Hi Community (Server Admins),

We are a company (group of 9 companies) with approx. 50 users in total.
A Head Office of (approx. 20), 3 branch offices (approx. 25), home workers (approx 5).

Our head office has 2 Windows Servers utilized for (Domain Controller, Active Directory, File Server, SQL Server, DNS, BACKUP,  etc + a Remote Desktop Server).. 2 terabytes of data, types of doc storage are: Autocad Drawings (1000's), large 3D Files, Sage Accounting Files, million + Photos, MS Docs, Adobe Photoshop PSD Files  (many 1000's of these).. and the list goes on.
These are getting old and slow and need replacement.

Our company is in process of hiring a developer to code a new web based system to tie in all of companies, much like a CRM/Doc Management System. (We are strictly file based now).. This system will at first be connected to one of our company websites (this website is like a Real Estate website) with listings and sellers and buyers (both real and potential). The thing is this website is on a web server. Pay about $200 a month for it.

Question: Can a web server (with new application being developed) do the functions of our Head Office servers. In other words, do a company our size really need in-house servers at all. Could we not get by with a "Robust" webserver and this new CRM System being built.

Thanks
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Question by:shood4012
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by:Lee W, MVP
ID: 41896715
Maybe not... but maybe.  How would you manage and maintain the machines at the home office.  Are you ABSOLUTELY certain you have no other needs for a server?  Keep in mind that CLOUD based things are subject to your internet bandwidth.  If you don't have google fiber or something similar, accessing CAD and other large files could be VERY slow and seriously impact productivity.  To me, this is not a question that needs to be answered now.  Get the new system in place and see what it replaces effectively.  Odds are, in my experience and opinion, it won't be good enough to replace the servers outright.
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by:jmac44
jmac44 earned 125 total points
ID: 41896718
You could but it is not recommended because the Webserver is actually getting visited be outside forces out of your control. To have a Webserver and an Active Directory server is not recommended because of this. It is potential security risk. Best practices recommend they be separate for that very reason.
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Expert Comment

by:pjam
ID: 41896764
What kind of Sage accounting are you referring to?
Sage 100 ERP has a CRM module that might do what you want.  Contact your Sage Reseller for more info.
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Assisted Solution

by:jmac44
jmac44 earned 125 total points
ID: 41896777
Hosting your own web server comes with the disadvantage of cost. You'll have to pay your ISP for a block of static IP address to do it and the cost of the server. The advantage that comes with that is complete control of the server and if your hiring a developer he or she should be experienced in setting up and maintaining that server. Most likely you will hire someone who is also familiar with Windows Domain Controllers or at least should be. Most these days are. With that you have someone who can fulfill both roles. With this scenario you could convert your Domain Controller into the web server for development and for your web site and new robust server to act as a Domain Controller (Active Directory) and a file server/database server. Because of the size of your firm you can combine the 3 AD, File and SQL. The Domain Controller should be a multi-disk server for redundancy fail over and you should have a very good back up strategy where you transport everything off sight daily or backup to a cloud service. The cloud service backup I recommend with reservation because I don't like relying on outside service for something that important. The main purpose for back ups is to completely restore your firms operation and there should not be any compromise in regards to this.  Good luck!
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by:andreas
andreas earned 125 total points
ID: 41897100
Furthermore you need your active directory inhouse to maintain printing and logon services. Else you need to create all user account locally on all machines. need to keep track of passwords, old employees left, and so on. All this is much more easy to do in a domain.

So the servers needs to be there in any case. So just make them a little bit bigger to host your files.

Also network bandwith is much more reliable inhouse.

You still can employ the cloud based solution for things that needs to be shared with externals, home workers, small branches that does not connect directly to HQ network, etc. pp.

Furthermore consider the cloud operator got hacked or cease to exist, If you host servers inhouse, its your decision how they are run and it will not depend on outside decisions out of your control.
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kevinhsieh earned 250 total points
ID: 41898519
Your web server cannot act as a replacement for your file server. You have a lot of infrastructure already, and it isn't easy to make it go away and just be in the cloud. For example, maybe you could use Dropbox for your files. However, the business plan is required for the amount of data you have, and is 12.50 per user per month. That makes a new server and new Microsoft licenses look pretty cheap.
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