Ryan Faas

Using Mac OS X Server at small worksites for less money

A couple of months ago, I was talking to a client about various options for designing his organization's Mac OS X Server infrastructure. One of the problems was that they had a number of small work sites that needed a file sharing and authentication solution, but for which his budget was limited. In the course of the conversation, I suggested purchasing a Mac mini and 10-user license version of Mac OS X Server for each site. He reacted as though I'd suggested he use a 1960's Volkswagen Beetle to tow a half ton trailer uphill. As unorthodox as it may sound, Mac OS X Server can be installed on any Mac that can run Mac OS X (including iBooks, eMacs, and Mac minis). It doesn't need any special hardware - though it will certainly not perform anywhere near as well as it would on an Xserve. To some people this might seem obvious (it certainly always has to me). But, as that conversation illustrated, it isn't that obvious to everyone. This one of the things that make Mac OS X Server a great product for small business. It has a very simple and low-cost licensing structure ($499 for ten concurrent users $999 for unlimited users) and it doesn't need expensive hardware. So, if you're a small school or small business with only a handful of computers, Mac OS X Server and a Mac mini can give you a server solution that completely meets your needs for very little money. Even if you have a larger organization, a low end Mac running a 10 client version of Mac OS X Server can be a great solution is you have one of more small remote work sites, as in the example I mentioned. If the remote sites have a slow Internet connection, using the low-end server as an Open Directory replica can provide a great way to still leverage the power of Open Directory but without worrying about long authentication delays to Open Directory master at your main office.

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