How Mountain Lion Server Stacks Up To Windows Server [Feature]

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Think OS X Server doesn't have equivalents to Active Directory and Exchange? Think again.
Think OS X Server doesn't have equivalents to Active Directory and Exchange? Think again.

Last week, I compared the costs of Mountain Lion Server with the licensing for Windows Server 2012 Essentials Edition. Both products are pretty clearly for the small business market. One of the big questions or concerns from readers centered around Microsoft’s Active Directory and Exchange. The assumption being that Apple didn’t provide anything similar.

That assumption, however, isn’t accurate. To clear up confusion, let’s take a look at what the core services and features in OS X Server actually offers and the audience that can best benefit from Mountain Lion Server – small businesses looking to set up a handful of services for a relatively small number of users.

Apple Serves Up Mac Business/Enterprise Resources Ahead of Mountain Lion

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Apple release Lion/enterprise docs on its training site 

Apple has added several whitepapers to its training site. All them address enterprise technologies in Lion. While many of the whitepapers have been available from Apple in the past, two of them appear to be new additions. The first of these details the use of Configuration Profiles to manage Macs running Lion as well as iOS device while the second covers 802.1X networking.

The first new whitepaper, which isn’t dated, is definitely the more interesting of the two.  It discusses Mac management as an extension of mobile device management (MDM). As we reported last week, Apple appears to be positioning Macs running Mountain Lion to be managed in the same manner as iOS devices rather than using its long-standing Managed Preferences architecture that has been built into OS X and OS X Server since their initial releases over a decade ago.

How Mountain Lion Will Make Managing Macs Just Like Managing An iPhone Or iPad [Feature]

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Mountain Lion could revolutionize Mac management
Mountain Lion could revolutionize Mac management

One interesting moment during last year’s WWDC keynote was when Steve Jobs said that Apple was moving beyond the digital hub strategy it had embraced for years. He talked about how our computers are no longer the hub of our digital life and said that Apple was demoting the Macs and PCs and making them just another device like an iPhone or iPad.

That message set the stage for iCloud and for cord-free iOS devices that don’t need a Mac or PC for activation, backup, or sync.

There was also a much subtler message, however, that no one really picked up on at that time. In making the Mac just another device, Apple was likely laying the groundwork to change how companies and schools manage Macs – essentially treating them as just another device and bringing the mobile device management (MDM) paradigm introduced in iOS 4 to OS X and Mac management.

WWDC Alternative European MacSysAdmin Conference Opens Registration

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Europe's MacSysAdmin 2012 Offers Four Days of Apple/Enterprise training
Europe's MacSysAdmin 2012 Offers Four Days of Apple/Enterprise training

WWDC may have sold out quickly, but as we reported there are alternative events for IT professionals  and developers that want to network and hone their skills. One of those is the annual European Macintosh System Administrators Meeting, which began accepting registrations this week for this year’s event, which will be held in Sweden this September.

Unlike WWDC, MacSysAdmin isn’t intended for developers as much as it is IT professionals that need to deploy and manage Apple technologies in business and education.

The Crucial Skills Every Mac IT Pro Needs [Feature]

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Mac IT specialists need a unique set of skills and knowledge
Mac IT specialists need a unique set of skills and knowledge

Recent data shows that nearly half of all companies offer or provide Macs to employees and that the Macs represent about 7% computers in the workplace. That’s according to a Forrester report that was issued last month and that prompted me to write a feature about how deploying and managing large Mac populations in enterprise environments differs significantly from supporting a handful of Macs.

In that that article, I covered a lot of the tools IT departments rely on to handle large scale Mac deployments. Knowing what those tools are is a great starting point, but there are also several key skills that IT professionals managing and/or supporting Macs in business need regardless of whether they’re dealing with a half dozen Macs or upwards of a thousand.