So, you own a small business with between 5 and 15 employees and need to buy a server. Which one should you get – Windows based or Mac OS X based? Let’s look at the costs involved, because lets face it, businesses need to make money, right?
I’m assuming that like most small businesses you can’t afford a full time IT guy, and you would rather spend time working on and in your business than working out how to use Linux. We already run a Linux server with probably the easiest of the Linux distros available, Ubuntu, and it isn’t that easy to administer unless you are an IT pro yourself. That’s just my opinion of course, but I’m a business owner, not an IT guy.
I’ve been looking at updating our server in the office for a while now, we had our first hardware failure this summer and lost productivity as a result. So we started looking around at the alternatives currently available and this is what I found. I’ve listed the prices in a sort of comparison done in USD as I couldn’t be bothered searching for hours on the Microsoft website which is, like all MS stuff, overly complicated and confusing with bits missing in vital areas. The Apple website was, typically for Apple, easy to use and finds things on.
Because it was launched last week and was all in the news I started with the new Apple Mac mini server, and then went to look at the Windows alternatives. The findings were quite amazing.
Apple Mac mini with Snow Leopard Server
Apple Mac mini server including hardware and unlimited software licence – $999
A typical Windows based alternative
Microsoft Small Business Server 5 user (software only) – $1089
Microsoft 5 extra Client Access Licences (makes ten CALs) – $385
TOTAL = $1,474
If you want a server based SQL database like many businesses need you will have to pay more than this because in order to get MSSQL as part of the package you have to buy the Premium version:
Microsoft Small Business Server Premium 5 user (software only) – $1899
Microsoft 5 extra Premium Client Access Licences (makes ten CALs) – $945
TOTAL = $2,844
That’s just the software though… As I said in my intro, we had a hardware failure earlier in the year and although it’s now fixed, we thought we’d upgrade our hardware to have two completely identical servers to provide full redundancy. If the server fails, we just switch to the second, mirrored version and continue running the business with no downtime.
I looked at Dell but they were even more than HP prices, so here are the HP ones. Gateway aren’t sold in Europe any more. So I just picked the cheapest server HP listed on their website for a Small Business. It comes without any OS installed:
HP ProLiant ML110 G5 Server – $599
TOTAL COST MICROSOFT ROUTE = $2,073 (or $3,443 with database)
TOTAL COST MAC MINI SERVER = $999 (or $999 with database)
COST SAVING WITH APPLE MAC MINI SERVER = $1,074 (or $2,444 with database).
If you had just 11 users that price differential would be even bigger because of how Microsoft taxes successful businesses. It’s the exact same software in your server, but Microsoft want to stick their fingers in your bank account again; and again; and again as you grow.
So who was it said that Macs were more expensive?
This calculation makes Microsoft either TWICE as expensive as Apple, or MORE THAN THREE TIMES more expensive than Apple. OK, I could probably save some money by buying the software through Amazon, and getting a deal on the hardware through a box shifter, but could I save 50% of the cost of the Microsoft based alternative? I doubt it.
I can now go out and buy two servers, with unrestricted server software, for less than I can buy one Windows based alternative. Not only that, I won’t have to get the IT guy in so often so I’ll save even more money in the long term. And that’s going straight onto my bottom line, and into my bank account all thanks to Apple.