4 Reasons Server Management is Important

Stable business systems and reduced downtime are critical for any small and medium-sized businesses (SMB) striving for consistent growth and reliability in operations. 

But with so many important areas to manage in the modern workplace, such as cybersecurity, compliance, and cloud, it can be easy to overlook the importance of robust server management

Managing servers comes with an array of tasks, ranging from optimizing performance to setting up virtual server environments, and all of them require technical knowledge and resources to get right. Without proper setup, you may be risking overall data security, uptime, and efficiency.

This blog will explain what server management is, and explore the key reasons why it is as important for your SMB as other digital initiatives, and how seeking the support of managed service providers (MSPs), can help take better care of your server-related challenges.

What is server management?

Server management encompasses the processes and tasks involved in maintaining and overseeing a server to ensure it operates efficiently and securely. This includes:

Effective server management aims to achieve optimal server uptime, reliability, and performance, which are crucial for the seamless operation of digital services and applications.

For your SMB, efficient server management is a strategic asset. It ensures that the digital foundation of your business operations runs smoothly for operational continuity, supports growth, supports your day-to-day data and application requirements, and adapts to evolving needs without compromising on security or performance. In other words, it’s not optional.

Server management also extends to cloud-based servers, where it plays a slightly different role due to the nature of cloud computing. While many of the underlying principles remain the same, such as performance monitoring and security management, the cloud provider you choose typically assumes management and responsibility for the physical hardware. This shift means if your SMB is using cloud services, your focus instead shifts to configuring cloud resources efficiently and securely, leveraging the scalability and flexibility of the cloud while still ensuring your server environments are well-managed and aligned with overall business objectives.

Managing servers, whether they are on-premises (physical), cloud-based (digital) or hybrid (a mix of both), does require technical expertise to ensure your systems are optimized and compliant. Many SMBs and enterprises without IT departments often use managed service providers to fully manage servers on behalf of their business, with many MSPs offering specially tailored server management solutions to address this critical need.

Why is server management important?

Imagine your website goes dark. Customer orders or lead conversions vanish. Internal documents become inaccessible. This isn’t an exaggeration; it’s a harsh reality for many small businesses SparkNav have spoken with who have experienced poorly managed servers.

Given the limited IT resources that many SMBs often face, prioritizing server management can sometimes be seen as less essential than other areas. However, effective server management can be the difference between staying ahead in a competitive market and facing setbacks and operational headaches due to very avoidable IT issues. 

By ensuring your servers are well-managed, your SMB can focus more on core business activities, while knowing your IT infrastructure is robust and resilient, and that you don’t have to face the risk of frustrated customers (or staff), data loss, downtime or cyber vulnerability. These days, getting help from experts to manage your servers, such as managed service providers, is also far more accessible and cost effective than it once was (you can find out more in our Cost of Managed IT Services Guide).

Below, we dive into the top 4 reasons why server management is important, specifically for SMBs – though these reasons do apply for large businesses facing server management challenges as well.

Server management can have a huge impact on business continuity.

1. It ensures business/customer data continuity and compliance

Server management is crucial for maintaining overall business and customer data continuity

Servers house critical data and applications essential for your day-to-day operations, so effective server management ensures this important data is backed up regularly and that you can quickly restore in the event of data loss, rather than face the downtime unprepared. 

Moreover, data continuity is vital for compliance with various regulatory requirements that mandate the protection and availability of certain types of business and customer data. In the age of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), your SMB cannot afford to risk lack of compliance due to poor server management. For example, failure to protect EU-based customer data due to data loss (or any other reason can lead to fines from the GDPR of up to €20 million or 4% of your global annual turnover.

Effective server management practices, therefore, not only protect your business’s general operational capabilities, but also continuity of data for your reputation and legal compliance.

2. It protects you from opportunistic cyberattacks

The rise in cybersecurity threats in the last few years has been a notable factor in server downtime costs among businesses that have failed to instate appropriate server management.

In 2023, 72.7% of businesses worldwide were affected by ransomware attacks according to Statista. In the Cyber Protection Week Global Report 2022, cyberattacks were cited among the top three most common causes of server downtime, with over a third (36%) of instances of downtime due to cyberattacks​​. In the WIPRO State of Cybersecurity Report 2023, their study reported 65% of organizations faced more than six days of downtime after ransomware attacks.

Whether it’s malicious ransomware or social engineering, having proper server management processes in place can help protect against such highly damaging threats. Regular updates and patches are essential components, closing vulnerabilities that could be exploited by hackers. 

Additionally, monitoring for unusual activity that could indicate a breach, implementing strong access controls, and using encryption to protect server data in transit and at rest is essential. These practices are critical for preventing unauthorized access, data breaches, and anything else that can compromise your regular operations and customer data privacy. A robust server management strategy includes not just reactive measures, but also proactive steps like network security audits and adherence to cybersecurity best practices to minimize risk of cyber attacks.

3. It prepares you for unexpected, avoidable system crashes

It’s fair to say any type of system crash can bring your business operations to a halt. According to the Cyber Protection Week Global Report 2022, 52% of instances of downtime were attributed to system crashes. Many participating businesses faced heavy costs as a result.

Servers rely heavily on their hardware components to function correctly, so hardware failures can occur in any part of a server, such as the storage, motherboard, memory (RAM), or cooling systems. When a critical hardware component fails (for example, a hard drive failure), there’s a serious risk of a total server crash, and all your data, applications and processes are impacted.

Without proper server management processes and precautions, you can face real risk of significant downtime to your business as usual (BAU) tasks. That means your workforce being unable to access important data for decision-making, software applications to complete their daily work, or even your customers being unable to access your website or complete the contact form. All of this can lead to lost revenue, eroded customer trust, and in severe cases, closure. 

Through comprehensive server management, you can better prepare for and mitigate the effects of system crashes (which always tend to happen at the worst or most unexpected times). This preparation involves regular system updates, patch management, and monitoring system performance to identify and address potential issues before they lead to crashes. It also includes implementing disaster recovery and business continuity (BCDR) plans that enable your SMB to continue operating even after catastrophic events, such as complete hardware failures.

4. It optimizes server resources and cost efficiency

Server management is pivotal for ensuring that server resources are neither underutilized nor wasted, striking the right balance between performance and cost. It’s not uncommon to encounter servers, both on-premises and in the cloud, that are mismatched for their intended tasks. For example, SparkNav has helped several customers identify when their servers are undersized, leading to poor performance and a frustrating user experience. Users often blame the applications they are running, not realizing that the root cause is inadequate server resources. 

On the other hand, oversized servers are equally mismatched and also a financial burden. Many times SMBs, advised by non-experts, invest in massive server capacities that operate at only 1-2% utilization, incurring unnecessary costs without clear tangible benefits. This common misconception – that “bigger is always better” – can lead to significant operational inefficiencies and wasted resources that could be better spent elsewhere in your business.

Proper server management ultimately involves careful assessment of needs and continuous monitoring to adjust resources as requirements change. This does take some investment, but it will ensure that your servers are perfectly aligned with demand and not only enhance performance, but cost-effectiveness, preventing overspending on underutilized infrastructure.

Getting help for server management: Next steps

Despite the clear importance of server management, it’s understandable that many SMBs struggle to put effective processes in place due to lack of IT expertise or other digital priorities. Managing a server properly requires certain time, money and resource investment overall.

SparkNav is a managed service provider that specializes in server management, in addition to other very important areas of IT (cybersecurity, data & AI, compliance and more) and offers cost-effective, tailor-made solutions especially for SMBs. 

If you need help getting your new server management strategy off-the-ground, contact our team to learn more on how our dedicated team of experts can assist your initiatives for the long-term.

Robert Griffin
Robert Griffin
As COO, Robert Griffin plays an instrumental role in aligning operational excellence with strategic goals by leveraging his decades of experience in enterprise leadership. With deep knowledge and expertise in security, governance, risk, and compliance (GRC), and AI, his insights are often shared through thought leadership channels, including LinkedIn and blogs. → Follow Robert on LinkedIn.