Considering a server in my office, 2 main questions to start

November 8, 2012 at 19:16:35
Specs: Windows 7, AMD Turion 2.4GHz/4GB RAM
I've been thinking of getting a server for my office. Right now we have 4 computers (XP Home) networked through basic windows networking with a 4 port lynksys router like you would find at any home. I have been doing a little research on servers and for now have come up with 2 main questions before I go any further with a purchase... They are separate from each other but I will post both of them here to save time.

1. It is to my understanding that with a windows server OS, I would still need to purchase a "client access license"? What is that and why do I need to purchase it? Unless my understanding of what it is, is wrong, it seems redundant that I need to spend several hundred dollars on the server OS, more money to upgrade my client OS's to Pro and then even more money to be able to connect those clients to the server? I thought thats the purpose of a server, to have clients connect to it, so why do I need to spend more to be able to connect clients to it? Can anyone please elaborate on what this is and do I really need it in my situation.

2. I want to be able to connect from home to my work server. Right now with my existing network I have set it up where I can VPN into my work PC, or remote desktop to it, but I was wondering if there was any way where I can set it up where I can log-in to my work server just as if I was another computer sitting in my office but only at home, and use a roaming profile, so my work "desktop and settings" are also available at my home PC. I understand that remote desktop does exactly this, but whenever I am not at work, somebody else is at my computer and both of us cant use it at the same time if I am using remote desktop.

3. I know i said I have only 2 questions in the beginning, but this one came to me just now... Is there any way a server can so called speed up my client computers? I ask that loosely, meaning I know the server cant help any ram or processing speed of the clients, but is there any way where I can "strip" the clients to just the barebones of the WIndows OS hence speeding it up, and run everything including all software from the server? I read something about virtual machines running off the server. Is this how it would work, or is there another/additional way of accomplishing this? Just brainstorming, but maybe something like running the software (lets say MS Word just for an example) on the server and just displaying the UI or software window on the client leaving all resources on that client free. Can someone elaborate on this also

Thank you for any information to help me in my final decision

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November 8, 2012 at 19:52:22
As you mentioned in your first question, you would have to buy server software with client licenses, if you wanted to run a local domain & Home PCs can't join a domain. So why spend all that money? It's not worth it.

You can still connect from home using remote desktop.

The speed problem is another story. That depends on a lot of things.

How do you know when a politician is lying? His mouth is moving.

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November 8, 2012 at 23:22:53
On the question of licences, Windows server software comes with 5 client access licences, so that wouldn't be a concern.

But I agree with guapo. What do you expect to gain by adding a server to your setup? With just 4 computers it's not worth it. As for the speed problem, running programs from a server would not solve that. If it's a question of centraIized storage, consider a simple NAS setup.

Invest your cash in upgrading your existing computers and forget about servers until you have a larger setup.

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November 9, 2012 at 10:26:10
Thans to both of you for the quick replies. I am still undecided as to if I will be getting a server or not. I have posted similar questions in other forums and I am getting split responses from people saying a server would benefit me and equal responses where people are advising against one. Regardless of my decision I would still like to learn these answers for future reference.

So server 2008 comes with 5 client licenses but was I correct in my original assumption as to havin to buy more licenses on top of purchasing server OS and upgraded client OS just to connect additional clients? I know people have their problems with Microsoft and all and I can now see why. That seems just so wrong!!!

On to my second question again. Forgetting about VPN and Remote Desktop, is there a way to LOGIN to my server remotely like I was asking in my first post? Lets say just for argument I opened a second "micro" office with only 1 computer. How would I connect this to my main netword/server?

Another question I would have is about physical network hardware with a server. Would I need an upgraded hub or switch ( don't know the difference between the 2), or is my existing router sufficient (forgetting the fact that the router has only 4 ports and I would have 5 computers connected). I figure there would be more network traffic with a server so how would that come onto play?

These new questions are just what if scenarios. You don't have to elaborate on how to make it work, but give enough info where I can google and fill in the blanks myself.

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November 9, 2012 at 11:59:35
Client Licences - that's just the way it works. With Windows Server you need a CAL for each computer that connects to the server.

You talk about "logging in" to your server, but I don't think you are clear as to what you expect from it. If you just want to access files on a shared drive then you just map a network drive. You would very much want to use a VPN to do this from the outside world; otherwise your files are potentially open to every Tom, Dick, and Harry.

I'm getting the impression that you don't really know what the purpose of a server is. It's not good to make business decisions that are going to cost thousands of dollars without being clear upfront what you want and how it is going to affect your business.

You don't run programs off servers. (That's not entirely true. There's a thing called Terminal Services that lets you do that, which can be useful for large organisations, but it would be totally inappropriate for you. For starters you need another set of client licences for TS; for seconds you don't save money on software because you still have to buy as many copies - or licences - as there are people using the software.)

Servers are used to centralise resources and to make management of client PCs easier. So you share files and printers using a server, you might run a database server, a web server, a mail server, a calendar server,... All sorts of things. But none of these seem to be applicable in your case - other than perhaps sharing files and printers; and there are much cheaper and easier ways of doing that.

Forget about the network infrastructure - you would'nt need to change any of that except adding a switch to give more capacity.

I think you are going about this from completely the wrong direction; worrying about implementation details when you don't know what you want to implement. You need to make a proper business case for this detailing your requirements and the costs of implementing those requirements; otherwise you are likely to spend a lot of money on something that is of very little use to you. Include in those costs training for whoever is going to manage your network.

Rather than taking advice from Internet forums, from people who don't know your business and what you are trying to achieve, I would recommend that you get some advice from a consultant; it'll cost you a few dollars but it could save you thousands.

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November 9, 2012 at 12:21:25
"Windows server software comes with 5 client access licences"

This is only the case for some retail packages.

Programs do run off the server for example database centrix products that store the data on the server allows network clients to update/change it via their workstations.

Programs like MS Office are for individual workstations and you would use the server for central storage. You want central storage so you can backup your data. Backup is a very important consideration not mentioned so far.

Concering your question of a remote site the best way is to put in a vpn router that has client vpn software. The remote client authenicates to the router and then to the server. This secures the communication across the internet.

Advice to get a consultant is a good one. To really take full advantage of a consultant though you need to have a good general overview of all the considerations or you may find yourself with advice you can't use in the end.

Answers are only as good as the information you provide.
How to properly post a question:
Sorry no tech support via PM's

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November 9, 2012 at 12:30:23
Sorry of my answer about CALs was not entirely accurate. This was the case with server software that we bought but that was a few years back and related to a particular product.

Microsoft licensing always was (and I presume still is) very complicated to work out. You need to liaise with a good reseller who can explain exactly what you need. This doesn't preclude talking to an independent advisor first to determine what the business may or may not need.

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