Making the decision to start your own dedicated server can be both exciting and overwhelming. There are numerous aspects of the server you must consider, from security to total cost of ownership. It is not easy, but it can be very rewarding for your business, organization, club, or personal use. The following are six considerations you should make before you start designing a new website, moving old data, or launching your new online business.
It sounds simple enough. The server itself is a computer with parts and components similar to your PC or laptop. Just as you would not get new personal or office hardware without careful consideration, you should also be mindful of current hardware trends, prices, and compatibility.
Make sure that the hardware you choose will last as long as you expect so that you are not forced to prematurely upgrade. You should also consider the software and applications you want to run and verify that your hardware will be compatible with them.
2. Operating system
The operating system you choose depends on many factors: price, software availability, ease of customization, technical support options, licensing, and compatibility with your web applications and development.
For example, CentOS is a free Linux-based server operating system that is both very powerful and affordable. If, however, you want to license software and get full support, you may prefer Red Hat Enterprise Linux, from which CentOS is derived. In other situations Windows Server 2008, BSD, Solaris, or any number of other OSes may be preferable. You should carefully consider what you want to do with your server and how much each option will cost you in the long run.
3. Web server software
Choosing an operating system will not get you on the web. For your websites to be live and accessible to all, you need web server software. By far the most popular choice is Apache HTTP Server, which runs on Linux, various UNIX-like operating systems, and Windows. Nevertheless, just because it is popular does not mean it is the only choice or necessarily the best one for your situation.
Some web servers are more light weight, better at handling large amounts of traffic, or easier and more compatible with certain operating systems, hardware, or scripting languages. The worst thing you could do is to setup a server that does not run your custom web applications well.
The three most popular web servers after Apache are: IIS (Windows), Ngnix, and Lighttpd.
4. Web application platform
Ultimately, your website is the interface your users will see, not your OS or hardware. In order for it to be effective, your sites will need web application frameworks that are proven and easy to install. In some cases, it may be as simple as a scripting language and a database server (i.e. PHP and MySQL). In other situations, it may require the combination of several different languages, tools, and services. For example, Microsoft’s ASP.NET allows you to integrate several scripting languages into your platform. Much of your decision will depend on the strengths of your developers or IT staff. If most of them are strong in Perl and Java, it would be foolish to setup your development platform for Ruby, Python, or another language.
5. Security measures
Security will always be important, even after your server is well-established and running, but it is absolutely crucial that you prepare for it now before your server goes live. Once it is connected to the Internet and your websites are accessible to the public, your server is also accessible to potential attackers.
You should consider the steps you will take to secure your data, network, applications, websites, and even your physical hardware. Have a plan in place so that you are not caught unprepared when disaster strikes.
How will you manage your server? Are you planning to manage your server at all? Many Linux and Unix system administrators are perfectly comfortable managing their servers through SSH (Secure Shell). Others prefer web-based control panels, at least for general maintenance. Most use a combination of the two or even more.
Whether you are buying your servers for your own data center or using an unmanaged server from a web host like server hosting company 34SP.com, it is important to be prepared and plan carefully before you boot up and introduce your services to the world. You will thank yourself in the future, and your customers will appreciate it.