Small business IT consultancy: Requirement Gathering

Small Business Into Image
Courtesy of LinkedIn

Few days ago, a dear friend of mine asked me what does he need for his new small home professional production house. I took this opportunity to share with you how I will design his new IT infrastructure. The topic will be consists of a group of articles covers the updates in the project.

Production House X:

Information and requirement gathering is the first phase of planning for any new IT infrastructure. Each infrastructure is different that others. The difference between infrastructure designs are because factors such as total budget, maintenance requirements, future upgrade consideration, and the type of business.

Step 1: Do your homework

The first step into gather information and requirement is learning more about the field of the business.  Since Production House X is a production house that produces high quality corporate videos for different customers. Thus, I have built in hypothesis that the PHX needs a sophisticated file sharing server.  I presume that all their footage is large. As a result,  high-speed network is a must.

Step 2: Meeting

Second step is having a meeting with the client to learn more about his requirements and about his/her business. Start your meeting by asking the client basic question about the field of the business, what is a daily routine of it and how is it going so far. It is important to ask these question, so you can break the ice between you and the client if you do not know the client in person. Also, these questions show that you as a consultant is interested about the business and the client at the same time.

Next, it is important to ask question about the management of the business. I mean ask questions about what of roles is in the business and how many employees is in the business as an example. It is important to know about the managerial process, because from a security point of view, it is important to hide data from unauthorized personnel even within the same business.

Finally, start to ask the technical questions such as what technology do you currently use, what are the issues the business are currently facing, and what type of data do your business generate. It is important to ask a lot about the type the data is generating daily, because data is the most critical asset of any business.


Server 101: Shapes of servers

Servers come in different shapes. Today their shapes will be looked and discussed.

What shapes do you take Mr. Server??

Servers can take three main shapes: tower, blade and rack mount. Servers come in shapes for multiple reasons such as cost, power efficiency and noise.

Rack Mount:

shape of rack mount server.
Courtesy of Dell Inc.

Rack mounted shape is most conventional shape servers comes in and it allows data center technicians to stack 3-4 physical servers  on top of each other in a server rack. It is more seen in the small to medium businesses that require multiple servers but no more than five. However, rack mounted servers are generally more expensive than other tower servers and it is noisier than tower ones.


Tower server shape
Courtesy of Dell Inc.

Tower shape is similar to desktop computer (Technically speaking our personal computers are not desktop computers, because desktop ones are the one that sit on top of desks like the old whitish ones). Small businesses tend to pick this shape over others, because it is more cost effective than others, especially if these businesses need one or two for all their operations. Thus, shape is recommended for them. Unlike most shapes, tower servers allow adding multiple regular 3.5 hard disk drives, that are more expensive. On the other side it takes more space than others.


Blade Servers:

A picture of a Blade Server
Courtesy of Hewlett Packard Enterprise

Blade shape  or blade servers are a form factor developed by IBM to create modular and efficient design that allow them stack as much physical servers as possible within a single server rack. Each module is called a blade. Despite its modular and efficient design, blade servers has its share of cons. These servers need high RPM fans, as a result they are noisy. Also, due to its compact size, ability to add expansion card is limited. Third, it is more expensive than others, with the same hardware inside.

Hemo’s Take

Recently, other forms are seen in server room. In home server rooms, laptops are used for its size, price and usage of laptop battery as a ghetto USP. In addition to laptops, System on Chips such as Raspberry Pi is implemented.

Server 101: What is a server

Tech workers spend most of their time either in server rooms or near them. However, not all of them know the ins and outs of server rooms. In this series server rooms will be discussed here. So, this topic will start with the most obvious question.

Group of server cabinets
Courtesy of ipzonecomputer

What is Server?

Many people think that servers are large, loud, expensive and hard to use machines. However, they thoughts are not true.  The definition of server is any device that provide any type of services to other machines on the same network and other network, because the term server is assigned to machines based on its relation to a certain service.

As a result, we see different types of “Computers” act as a server. We started to see microcomputers such as Raspberry Pis, and atom based computers act as server for clients who are waaay more powerful, more expensive and more difficult to use computers.

Servers serve different types of services. These services varies from serving a group of files to a different to managing user authentication and logging, to managing prints over a network. According to the service provided, system administrator choose the type of hardware that will serve the purpose and consume the least amount of power.

Hemo’s Take

Do not look at servers are as magical, difficult, expensive machines that working on them are rocket science. They are just like the machines that  we use at home, but with small  differences. Dealing with servers are just a nice journey into getting better at your job.

In the end remember, we the tech workers are supermen who do not wear  tight clothes 🙂