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Do we need servers???

Hi Everyone,

We are a growing company with approximately 50 users in total. (A head office with 20 users, the remaining 30 or so  work out of one of three remote offices.. a couple users work from home)

Here's a typical rundown of some of the documents we work with:
- A team of roughly 8 AutoCad Draftsman that work with large AutoCAD drawings as well as specialized 3D Lofting files and databases
- 4 staff work with Sage Accounting Software (the accounting files are Server based and network shared)
- 2 Graphics Designers that utilize the ADOBE suite of products, these girls work extensively with Adobe Photoshop and  and other graphics programs
- Everyone else (Including the above) regularly use the MS Office package (Word, Excel, Outlook) plus Adobe Acrobat for PDF creation.

We manage all of the above on MS Servers, our servers employ typical functions. Eg: (Domain Controller, Active Directory, Group Policy enforcement, Exchange 2007, Network DNS, Network Security Management, Patch Management, Printer Sharing, Manage user accounts and groups on the network, Manage backup, restore, and data storage, and so on).

Company now uses Office 2007 that is nearing end-of-life.
Our SBS 2008 servers are old now (8 years) and getting really slow and glitchy. Something needs to be done. Our IT Person recommends replacing the servers with one new server and Visualize it. He also suggests taking the email outside and host it Online with Microsoft in the cloud and continue to keep company data in-house (not in cloud for cost savings and also it works fine with VPN and RDP)

We host a web based application developed from scratch using a product named: AlphaAnywhere
This application is for our companies two marine brokerage businesses: Essentially an inventory of Used Commercial Boats and Fishing Licenses that we broker for clients.

Question: Could we not just use our host web server computer (it is not a dedicated server but rather Virtual at $149 monthly) to fulfill the functions of our on-site servers outlined above + perhaps store all company data (2 TB and growing). No active directory etc or domain controller; but rather, authenticate via website login.

As part of this process we hire a developer to re-code our websites application to integrate all users files and folders (into the website) so all they need do is log-in the website for remote access. In addition, and most importantly, our revised website would form the foundation of a company-wide CRM system whereby all company databases would be imported into it and linked together,

Any thoughts as to cost and feasibility?
PS> Is it customarily safe to integrate or link the above into a public web server? Even with login security it seems might present a security risk??
2 Solutions
I would expect that you'd not be at all happy with access speed when working AutoCAD files over the internet.  Of course, it does depend on what upload and download speeds you and the host have.

I would suggest taking some of your larger AutoCAD files and copying them to and from your existing web server.  See how long it takes and decide if that would be acceptable.

There are many other questions to answer, but this is one that may be the most obvious one that makes this impractical.
Cliff GaliherCommented:
You have an IT person. Trust them. From what you describe, I'd never do your proposed "alternate" solution, and chances are your IT person didn't suggest it or similar for good reason. If you don't trust your IT person, why pay them. It has to be a two-way street. Second guessing major architecture plans is a good way to get a disgruntled IT person.
Jackie ManCommented:
If your company is a startup, you can take the cloud approch. But, it will be a painful if you migrate all existing service to cloud. Besides, your current web hosting platform is too limited as its usage is not designed for other services and integration will be very difficult.
do not use a non dedicated server for such tasks. hosting a web server is ok, the rest of what you described is not.

do not work with shares over the internet. if your users work independantly, they probably can work locally and upload stuff afterwards but clearly working distantly on big files is a no-go. so that would actually depend how they work.

now, to the list

Domain Controller, Active Directory, Group Policy enforcement,

you probably don't use much of the corresponding features, but if you have a working setup, i see little reason to change now.

Exchange 2007,

this normally would run on a standalone machine. removing this role from your sbs will probably de-sluggish-ise it.
externalising is a viable option.
office365 is expensive, not great in terms of availability but stuff like shared calendars/contacts usually work better both on mobiles and ms-outlook.
depending on your needs, different options can be thought of but removing that role from the sbs seems a smart move except if your traffic and mailbox sizes is VERY low.

Network DNS, Printer Sharing

your firewall can do the dns if you really want to remove the SBS. if you have a domain, you'll need the dns to be the domain's

printer sharing
needs to be internal.
can be performed on any old desktop.
quite useless since using network printers is much simpler.

Manage user accounts and groups on the network,

cannot be performed without a domain. you can use samba if you want something free, but i'd probably keep the sbs for this task.

Network Security Management,

i don't see a link with SBS. seems far from the topic

Patch Management

dunno what you are using. but if you have something that works, i see little reasons to change. are we talking windows updates through WSUS ?

Manage backup, restore, and data storage, and so on).
that's a whole topic in itself.
what do you currently have ? does it fit the bill ?
David Johnson, CD, MVPOwnerCommented:
Yes you still need servers. What you will save by not having them will be eclipsed by the cost of lost productivity
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