Apple’s Profile Manager And The Future Of Mac Management [Feature]

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Mountain Lion Server's Profile Manager illustrates the future of Mac and iOS management.
Mountain Lion Server's Profile Manager illustrates the future of Mac and iOS management.

Since the release of Snow Leopard Server three years ago, Apple has been steering its server platform away from large enterprise deployments. Instead Apple has redesigned OS X Server to meet the needs of the small to mid-size business market as well as the needs of Apple-centric departments or workgroups in larger organizations. That focus is very clear if you download and install Mountain Lion Server or look through the Mountain Lion Server documentation from Apple.

One of the transitions that Apple began in Lion and Lion Server, which were released last summer, was a move away from the traditional Mac management architecture that Apple has provided in OS X Server since it launched the platform more than a decade ago. In its place, Apple has built a management system for Macs that is very similar to the mobile management features available in iOS.

10 Reasons Why Your Business Needs Mountain Lion Server [Feature]

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Profile Manager is a killer feature in Mountain Lion Server, but it isn't the only killer feature.
Profile Manager is a killer feature in Mountain Lion Server, but it isn't the only killer feature.

Apple is expected to launch Mountain Lion next week. At the same time, the company will be launching Mountain Lion Server. The new edition of Apple’s server platform is revolutionary in a lot of ways, not the least of which is its $19.99 price tag.

Mountain Lion Server includes the basic server functionality that you’d expect from a product intended for the small to mid-size business (SMB) market. That means features like file sharing, network printing, client backups, website hosting, VPN, email services, centralized contacts for an organization, and shared calendaring. All of that is important and Mountain Lion Server seems destined to make those services easy to set up and manage.

In addition to those basic capabilities, however, Mountain Lion Server comes with some pretty incredible functionality for businesses or workgroups of any size or type. Here are ten of the big money features that are easy to overlook.

Mountain Lion Server May Look Limited, But It Still Has Enterprise Bones [Feature]

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Appearances can be deceiving. Mountain Lion Server still has solid enterprise capabilities.
Appearances can be deceiving. Mountain Lion Server still has solid enterprise capabilities.

Apple has released two documents about Mountain Lion Server ahead of this month’s Mountain Lion (and Mountain Lion Server) launch. The first, a 25 page product guide, offered a some insights into the changes and new features that Apple wants to highlight for customers. The second is Apple’s Advanced Administration guide, an in-depth document that would be nearly 400 pages is it were printed or packaged as a PDF. This guide is the full documentation for Mountain Lion Server and it offers a lot of information about all the changes that Apple has made since Lion Server shipped last summer.

On the surface, these two guides are enough to make longtime OS X Server administrators nervous at Apple’s removal of the advanced admin tools and features that have been in nearly every previous OS X Server release. It’s very easy to look at the contents of the Advanced Administration guide and assume Apple is completing the consumerization of its server platform.

Digging a bit deeper, however, reveals that Apple may actually have a winning strategy in the way that it continues to integrate iOS and Mac management into a single workflow and that not all of the capabilities from previous iterations of OS X Server have been scrapped.

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.