What are you trying to accomplish at your place of business? I have seen it too many times, an IT company comes in and gives the client, what they think they need but it ends up being, way more than they actually need.
What Do I Mean By Overkill?
Do you need a firewall? Probably. But do you need a hardware or software firewall or both. One or the other will probably suffice. Now which one, hardware or software based? Depends on how much control you actually need. For most people, a software firewall will do the trick but either would be great. I certainly don’t think you necessarily need both though.
Do you need a server? That all depends. Some businesses only need a dedicated workstation/pc that we’re calling a “server”. If you don’t need the capability of locking down all your users to a certain “area” of your business , then you may not need an actual server with Active Directory. Active Directory allows you to create domain user accounts, sub-accounts, domains (among other things), etc… but if you don’t need that level of security, internally, then you may not need an actual server.
I have several clients currently setup with a “beefy” workstation/pc working as their “server” that is housing the database of whatever software they’re using. If you’re business is in the Dental, Orthodontic, or Chiropractic for instance, most times you can get away with just a dedicated workstation. All it takes is a simple call to the company supplying the software for your business.
Cost Effective and Effective
When searching for the ideal workstation/pc, a lot depends on the amount of access and daily use. The idea is to get a pretty decent machine with plenty of RAM (for multi-tasking or multiple access) and plenty of Hard-Drive space (for storage). At least a gigabit Ethernet card for faster access. Multiple Ethernet cards can be installed also for separated access to keep from bottle-necking or slow down. Remote access to the machine can also be setup if needed for “outside” access. I say this hesitantly because the goal is to not have anyone, “sitting” in front of this machine as it’s only for dedicated access of the database(s).
So ultimately, the cost-effectiveness and effectiveness of such a machine will usually save the end user about $1000 per workstation, with a mid-grade or even top-grade workstation/pc, and by weighing all the needs in favor of reliable performance.