What is Server Management?
The server is the central part of hosting a website. Managing the server is essential for smooth business operation.
Server management is complex because it requires high technical knowledge. Both the hardware & server-side software have to be well-configured and checked on functionality.
You can decide to have system admins that take care of the server in-house. Or you outsource the system administration to a third-party provider.
In this article, we explore how to get proper server management.
What is Server Management?
Server management refers to maintaining servers to operate at peak performance. You have to ensure the servers are secure & healthy. It entails a wide range of processes, from server monitoring to optimizing.
The system admins are in charge of managing the server. Some of their duties include:
- User management & access control
- Server configuration
- Server-side software installation & updates
- Monitoring CPU, RAM, network
- Creating backups & restoring files
- Configure security settings like firewalls
The upkeep of servers ensures that your web applications are running smoothly. Maintaining the infrastructure also protects the data & internal systems.
As your business scales, you may need to add new servers. The admins may have to configure (or reconfigure) multiple servers. Managing a server allows flexibility & scalability. It lets you adapt to changes quickly.
The CPU is referred to as the brain of the server. It is also known as the processor. CPU usage is an essential metric in server monitoring. You can use it to analyze the processing speed of applications. It’s one of the performance indicators for server & network health.
Random Access Memory (RAM) acts as the server’s short-term memory. It’s critical for better performance of the server. The amount of RAM you would require for scaling depends on your specific hosting needs. You have to monitor RAM usage to ensure it does not reach total capacity.
The hard drive acts as the server’s permanent storage. You should monitor the hard drive to avoid it reaching maximum storage capacity.
Network ports act as communication endpoints. Servers are connected to a port with a range of speeds set by the host. Check if you have enough network adaptors & connections for the server.
The server can heat up very quickly if it’s not managed correctly. You require cooling fans to ensure the physical servers at your data center don’t overheat.
A Web Application Firewall (WAF) protects applications from malicious attacks. These attacks can lead to data loss, hijacked systems, and downtime. A WAF filters and blocks bad HTTP/s traffic to protect your web apps. The admins configure & manage firewall settings for network security.
A LoadBalancer helps to distribute incoming network traffic across multiple servers. It improves application performance by decreasing the burden on servers. The load balancer ensures high availability & reliability. The admins have to set up and manage load balancers on servers.
Server-side Software Components
The server-side software also has to be maintained regularly. You must know the software dependencies of your infrastructure. Ensure that the software is updated for performance & security.
Some of the common server-side software components:
- Operating system
Common Server Management Components
The Domain Name System (DNS) translates domain names into machine-readable IP addresses. With millions of domain names, the DNS directory can become very large. That’s why the directory is stored & distributed globally using DNS servers. If the DNS server is not configured correctly, your clients cannot reach your website. To manage the DNS, you can use DNS server software or a DNS service provider.
If you use MySQL, the database management is usually done with PHPMyAdmin. You can create & manage database servers. Typical database administration tasks include change management, security, backups & recovery.
MySQL is an open-source relational database management system (RDBMS). You can use MySQL commands to import or restore databases. The admins have to start/stop MySQL services, maintain user accounts, update MySQL, etc. Using a modern server control panel, you can automatically upgrade or downgrade the MySQL version (by a script).
PHP is a popular server-side scripting language used for web development. The PHP code is processed on the web server by a PHP interpreter. PHP scripts are only interpreted on the server that has PHP installed. Many hosting servers come with pre-installed PHP versions. Depending on your application, you need to install the right PHP version.
Manage SSH/FTP users
SSH (Secure Shell) is a network protocol for secure communication. It ensures strong encryption & authentication for data integrity. The File Transfer Protocol (FTP) transfers computer files between a client and server on a computer network. You have to create & manage SSH/FTP users. If you are using a server control panel, there is no need to access the server from the terminal.
You may want to restart services if you have modified the services configuration. You can start & stop services quickly using a server control panel. Services include MySQL, Elasticsearch, PHP, NGINX, Redis, Varnish.
SSL certificates protect sensitive data during transfer. It helps verify your site identity and fulfills compliance requirements. To secure the communication with HTTPS, you should install SSL certificates for all domains. Some server control panels offer to install a free Let's Encrypt certificate.
Server Security Components
Hackers are constantly finding new ways to get into your system. It could be from a misconfigured port or an unpatched vulnerability.
You must strengthen your infrastructure to avoid any attacks. Some of the server-side security components include:
Web Application Firewall
A firewall separates your internal network from the external incoming traffic. WAF is application-specific. The admins filter the traffic as well as block/whitelist IPs/bots. It is essential to set up & maintain firewalls to restrict access to your system.
Detecting intrusion & threats
Using intrusion detection systems (IDS), you can detect traffic for threats and any abnormal activities. It scans files moving through the network. It can monitor patterns and flag any suspicious deviations.
Regularly upgrade software & OS.
Your server can have security loops if all the components are not upgraded regularly. Ensure you add security patches, upgrades and use the latest software versions.
Set up Access limitations
You can specify access privileges to networks, files, directories, and other server elements. You can limit read access to specific sensitive data.
You should install SSL or Let’s Encrypt certificates for server security.
You should use the best practices for passwords. Set password policies that all the users have to follow. Use minimum character lengths, complexity & password expiry policies. You can also use 2FA and session timeouts.
Configure a Web Server
The system admins will handle the setup & configuration. The web server contains an operating system, web server, database, and scripting language.
One of the popular solution stacks for Linux web servers is the LAMP stack. The components can be interchangeable.
Linux for the operating system
Linux is a free, Unix-like computer operating system. It is lightweight, open-source, and offers high performance.
Apache/NGINX as webserver
Apache HTTP server delivers web content from the server to the web browser. The component is interchangeable with other faster web servers like NGINX.
MySQL for database
MySQL is a free & open-source database engine for websites. It is a multi-threaded SQL database management system.
PHP, Perl, or Python programming language
PHP and its alternatives Perl, Python are programming languages for web development.
Along with these components, you also have to configure Elasticsearch, Redis, and Varnish caching services. You should ensure to meet the system requirements before setting up the server.
Importance of Effective Server Management
Managing your server reduces downtime & data breaches. It helps to avoid any system failure.
Your server is vulnerable to attacks if it is not managed. Hackers can bypass authentication to gain access to your data. Or even wipe out your data altogether.
The server has to be managed regularly. Otherwise, it can lead to unstable server environments.
The lack of proper server administration affects your business. You could lose potential customers, brand reputation & revenue.
Requirements for Effective Server Management
1. Study in System Administration with certificates in Linux
System admins must have:
- Experience in maintaining the server.
- Previous studies in system administration (Degree in computer science software engineering).
- Good coding skills.
- Training in operating systems & networking.
- Certificates in Linux to help assure credibility.
2. Experience in server components & applications
Industry-leading experts must know the ins & outs of the server components. Experience in server components & applications will help admins quickly solve the issues. Inexperienced admins often end up doing random guesswork.
3. Infrastructure knowledge
Nowadays, most of the services are moved to a virtual server. That’s why deep infrastructure knowledge is required from system admins. Admins must have expertise in the infrastructure you are using. They should be able to manage systems on your preferred clouds, such as AWS or Google Cloud.
4. Latest technologies
The technologies are constantly evolving. Ensure your server is updated to the latest versions. Outdated tech stack raises security concerns. Upgrade to new technologies quickly. It will improve performance & keep your server secure.
Advantages of Outsourcing Server Management
1. Expert support
In-house system admins may not have the right skills. They have to be trained for your specific IT requirements. Third-party providers come with the best technical support. You get a team of experts with years of experience in server management. Support specialists help resolve all server related issues.
2. Lower costs
As the business grows, you may have to hire full-time system admins. It can charge you thousands of dollars. Outsourcing server management is more cost-efficient and comes with SLA-based pricing. SLA means the service level you require for your hosting.
3. 24/7 Monitoring & support
A Managed service offers 24/7 support & server monitoring. You will have experts ready to resolve all server-related issues.
4. Reduced workloads
Server management comes with many routine tasks. Outsourcing these server-related tasks to a vendor helps save time. They constantly monitor your server to ensure uptime and security.
5. Latest technology
Vendors use the latest technologies and the newest server management software. The updates are also implemented quickly for the server.
A server handles web hosting, applications & data storage. It is the backbone of your IT infrastructure.
The types of servers may vary, such as Linux or Windows servers. However, Linux servers are widely used & are a standard for web hosting.
A maintained server ensures high performance, scaling & security. There are many server management tools & services available. You can use them to make managing tasks easier.
A server control panel is one of the best ways to manage your server. It automates many server-related tasks.
Gain more insights about server management on the CloudPanel blog.