The other day Larry mentioned that he was installing a third home server into one of his small business networks. Why in the world would he want to install one home server, let alone three in a small business network? In asking around on a small business managed services listserve, Larry is not alone. Others are either doing this, or thinking about this.
But why in the world would they see value in backing up the desktops in a small business network? We should be saving all the important documents on the server, right?
Because of the differences between how we in small business handle our desktops versus how people in big businesses do.
Each desktop is unique. The user’s icons are just so. Move a user’s icon and they about kill you for moving their icons. Each user may have unique programs that only they are licensed for. A small business normally purchases a new computer one or two at a time. So when something happens to that desktop it may take 2 to 3 hours to rebuild that image and get the desktop back to the way the person wants it so that they are the most efficient. Rebuilding a machine is a non trivial issue, license keys have to be found, it may take hours to get everything back the way it was.
Each desktop is a standard build. Desktops are locked down, wallpapers are standardized. If you need to repair a computer, an image is pushed down. I’ve even seen a large firm push down new images to their workers once a quarter. To rebuild a system, is a trival and is done in a normal course of operations.
Notice the difference?
So along comes Home Server who’s only job in life is to take backups of each workstation and to compare via hash values the data that has been backed up and if it sees a match, it won’t back up that same data point making it a smaller backup. So that’s the technical guts of the backup, but not the real impact that adding a Home Server to a network can do.
I once talked about backing up the desktops in a small network to a security guy and he made the point that one shouldn’t worry about losing the desktops as you needed to ensure that the key data files were on the server, better protected than they would be on the workstations. But that’s missing what really is the impact in a small firm. Getting that desktop back to where the icons are just so, the shortcuts are where they should be, applicationso are installed and with their proper licenses means you have a happy and efficient end user.
Backing up the desktops in a small firm, whether it’s being done by Home Server with it’s file technology or another imaging solution where they don’t have that technology, is ensuring that you can get those workers in the office, the ones that earn the revenue, back to working condition as soon as you can.