Architects and Computer Systems

Microsoft Small Business Server Recommended to Architects

Modern day businesses are constantly being challenged with new technologies and new methods of conducting their business.

In the case of architects, software drawing packages are constantly evolving to meet these needs. Their thirst to provide the latest software technology means that the hardware requirements used to run these programs increase, as each version is released.

A typical architect’s practice will start its computer network as a peer-to-peer network, slowly gaining additional computers as the practice expands. This will cause data to be stored on each user’s individual workstation, meaning a company’s data integrity is as good as the operator’s practices regarding virus checks and on or off site backups.

Access to these files requires data transfer by email, transfer by USB drive / CD or setting up file sharing on a peer-to-peer network. This system means if one computer fails and the user hasn’t been following best procedures or guidelines, all work and drawings will be lost. The solution is to install a central server that will manage the user accounts and email, whilst safely holding the company’s data.

Architects send and receive large emails containing drawings and in order to store and back them up the normal outlook postbox is not strong enough. Access needs to be configured to enable partners to download and upload large files without stretching the email system and making it crash. Microsoft small business server includes a powerful mail store which is designed to hold large amounts of emails and attachments.

Another important part of the server is the File Transfer Protocol (FTP). This is a fast way to copy files to and from remote computer systems on a network via the internet file transfer protocol.

As files are very large with many versions of drawings, the server would need to have a large amount of hard drive storage. Files need to be organized and saved in appropriate folders. The server can also back up everything in one central location. Backup is a duplicate copy of a program: a disk, or data, made either for archiving or for safeguarding valuable files (ie drawings) from loss should the active copy be damaged or destroyed.

A backup is an ‘insurance copy’. Some application programs automatically make backup copies of data files, maintaining both the current version and the preceding version on disk.

The new LTO-4 backup tape drives now hold 800GB of uncompressed data and the lifespan of a tape backup cartridge is now up to three years. There also needs to be a backup policy in place to organize the backup schedule.

With having all that important and critical data on the server, security needs to be in focus so anti-virus software is a must to protect the server and the workstations.

With the appropriate monitoring and support in place the architect’s office will gain in productivity due to a reliable system.

By Michael Rentmeister, Mesh Technology

Editor’s note

Mesh Technology Ltd was founded in 1998 in Lurgan by Michael Rentmeister, Managing Director and current Chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses Branch South East in Northern Ireland.

The company offers a ‘one stop shop’ providing IT Installations, consultancy and ongoing support for customers.

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