Apple Quietly Releases Mountain Lion Server Guide, Previews The Future Of Mac Management

Apple Quietly Releases Mountain Lion Server Guide, Previews The Future Of Mac Management

Apple offers an early glimpse into Mountain Lion Server and Mountain Lion Mac management

Apple has quietly posted an overview guide to Mountain Lion Server. The 25 page PDF document is available from Apple’s OS X Server Resources page, which barely references Mountain Lion at all. The generically named OS X Server Product Overview link in the page’s Documentation section, however, links to the new Mountain Lion Server product brief.

The overview guide is listed as being updated for June. That implies that it was deliberately placed there in advance of next month’s Mountain Lion release (as opposed to going live early by mistake). The guide primarily focuses on introducing the various features in Mountain Lion Server. While not in-depth, it definitely provides a sense of where Apple is going with Mountain Lion Server as well as with Mac and iOS management.

We’ll have a more in-depth look at the details and what they mean for both small to mid-sized businesses and enterprise organizations running OS X Server, but here are some key observations based on a quick look at the guide.

  • Advanced administration is out – The overview makes no mention of the Server Admin console available in previous releases. Although it mentions some other advanced tools and features, most notably System Image Utility and NetInstall, the primary management console is now the Server app introduced with Lion Server.
  • Profile Manager Is How Mountain Lion Server does iOS and Mac management – The basic mobile device management service in Lion Server has expanded significantly and appears to offer one-stop administration of all Apple devices within an organization including full-on Mac management that used to be handled by Apple’s Open Directory and Managed Preferences framework.
  • Self-enrollment and service comes to iOS – Beyond advanced Mac management, Profile Manger has gained a new web portal that will allow users to enroll their iPhone, iPads, and Macs for device and system management. The portal will automatically configure the devices and offer the ability for users to remotely wipe their devices or Mac notebooks if they’re lost or stolen.
  • Various services have gotten renamed along with their Mountain Lion equivalents – iChat Server is now Messages Server, iCal Server is now Calendar Server and so on.
  • Advanced mass deployment and update functionality is still there – NetInstall and Software Update Service are both still available, though they’re now managed via the Server app. This bodes well for the ability to safely manage Mountain Lion’s new security system.
  • Apple’s wiki service still has potential – We covered the wiki service as a potential social and collaborative tool earlier this week. The feature remains available and it looks like Apple has revamped the service’s user interface for a better iPad experience.

The biggest observation to be made about Mountain Lion Server based on this guide has to be the fact that Apple has clearly transitioned OS X Server from being an enterprise solution to being a small business product. That’s not surprising given the transitional look and feel of Lion Server. A close second is the fact that Apple has taken the so-called iOS-ification of the Mac beyond just the user interface by using Configuration Profiles like those used to manage iOS devices as a full featured Mac management model (a topic we explored last month) .

Check back for a more in-depth look at Mountain Lion Server

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  • howie_isaacks

    I fear that consumerizing OS X Server is going to result in a lot of unhappy business customers. Lion Server has not always worked as well as I would have liked, and the loss of Server Admin (if they’re really taking it away) worries me. The server app has often been slow and error prone, even on the most powerful systems that OS X Server is installed on. Before moving on to Mountain Lion, they need to fix Lion Server.

About the author

Ryan FaasRyan Faas is a technology journalist and consultant living in upstate New York who has written extensively about Apple, business and enterprise IT, and the mobile industry. In addition to writing for Cult of Mac, he is a contributor to Computerworld, InformIT, and Peachpit Press. In a previous existence he was a healthcare IT director as well as a systems and network administrator. Follow Ryan on Twitter and Google +

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