Small Business IT Infrastructure

5 pts.
Microsoft Office
Network design
Network Topology
Small Business Computing
We are a small business that is moving into our small office location we have 5 employess. We would like to use things like VPN when out of the office, have need for MS Office Suite, MS Sharepoint, maybe small web site development (nothing complex), print to a shared printer and store and backup shared files. We have little money and was looking for a single, all in one server solution to support our 5 office workstations and do the above. We have some but little technical knowledge. Is their an all in one solutions that comes preconfigured out there by HP, IBM, DELL or...?

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If you are connecting your network to the Internet, I would not recommend that you do all of this on the server, as you will need to connect the server to the Internet directly, and that will make it vulnerable to attack. I would highly recommend that you purchase a firewall appliance, or a router with firewall capability. This can also terminate the VPN for your remote users.

If money is really tight, then there are quite a few cheap firewalls out there. The Draytek firewalls are very cheap and I have heard good things about them (for the price). Not used them myself, but then I mostly recommend Cisco as I know it works, and know how to get it working ! The Cisco is more expensive, but in my opinion it is worth the extra for the quality of support and you can always find someone to configure it (you could even ask here for an example) or look on the Cisco website for cookbook example configs. If you are looking at the Cisco option, then the ASA5505 is the one I would recommend. It will do everything you need it to do now, and will also when you company gets a lot bigger (which it hopefully will in time).

Someone else here can advise on the server side of things, as that is not my area of expertise !


For Microsoft Office, you should look into a Microsoft value licensing agreement to save you some money. Software Assurance is expensive, but a very good idea so you can continue to upgrade to the newest versions of Office without an upgrade cost. You just need to continue to maintain your Software Assurance contract.

For a server, you should look into Microsoft Small Business Server (SBS) which incorporates email, web development, and an active directory domain. It is a very good package for small businesses that need several applications in a single bundle.

You should look into purchasing Office and the server all together to leverage the benefits of a Microsoft value licensing agreement. HP or Dell would be able to help you with both the office licenses and the server.

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  • Gnsc
    I agree with much of what BlankReq has said. Your firewall is key for protecting your network. SonicWall and Peplink are good choices for small business firewalls. Please don't use your server as the main firewall. Too much risk. As for Microsoft Small Business Server, it will give you a good chunk of what you need except for Sharepoint which if I understand correctly still needs to be licensed separately. One way to save some $$ is to use Open Office from Sun. You can run a suite of Microsoft Office Compatible Apps that will produce files that can be opened by Microsoft Office but the obviously won't integrated with things like Sharepoint. Microsoft terminal serices can help provide you with your VPN capabilities but make sure you purchase the correct number of CAL's as part of your server license. Finally, you are loading up your server with a ton of stuff even though it's just 5 people. All your eggs are in one basket here. I would encourage you to look into some of the lower cost NAS storage devices that are available to move some of this data storage off the server. You can get 1 TB GB devices for under $200. Check out IOCell Networks. You can use it for both backups and for primary storage. Remember to back everything up. If that server goes down for whatever reason, your whole operation is down. Hope this helps.
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  • ITAppSha
    Hi there, If you havent found a solution to this yet, please contcat me on We are Gold partners for Microsoft, Oracle and SAP and would be glad to discuss and take care of your requirements. Good luck !
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