How Do I Know If I need OS X Server?
Lion Server comes with many different features, including:
- Max OSX Server allows members of your group to exchange files, share folders, and access documents on a Mac, Apple’s iPad, or a PC.
- Mac’s OS X Server supports UNIX permissions and access control lists (ACLs), allowing for increased control over who shares what content.
- The intelligent Spotlight searching feature helps users find content on the server quickly and easily.
- The file-sharing connection monitoring feature enables you to see who is accessing your server, who is connected, and for how long.
- Profile Manager simplifies managing your Macs and iOS devices in your home or business network. This is where a lot of the network management happens including key functions such as:
- Create profiles to set up user accounts for mail, calendar, contacts, and messages
- Enforce and manage restrictions
- Set PIN and password policies
Profile Manager can automatically send out updated configurations, using the Apple Push Notification service. This feature supports web-based administration, so it is possible to manage your server from any modern web browser.
OS X Server can act as a Time Machine backup location for all of your Apple computers and devices on the network. Conveniently, OS X Server eliminates the need for separate backup drives. OS X Server uses the Time Machine application to back up all your server data — including shared files, calendars, mail, and wikis— to another hard drive or back up storage system. It is even possible to view the backup status for each Mac device and computer on your network.
OS X Server makes collaboration and communication in groups easy through each users own wiki-powered website. Users can increase productivity by creating and editing wikis and individual pages and by implementing any of the following features:
- Tag and cross-reference material
- Upload files and images
- Create tables and add comments.
The wiki is accessible from a browser, so anyone can access it anywhere… anytime. Wiki Server can be used with your iPad, and iPad users can open and save attachments from the wiki in Pages, Numbers, and Keynote.
Calendar, Contacts, and Mail Servers→
- Calendar Server allows everyone on your network to share calendars, schedule meetings, book conference rooms, and coordinate events.
- Contacts Server allows for easy sharing of contacts and syncing them on your Mac, iPad, and iPhone.
- Mail Server in OS X Server works with email clients on the Mac, iPad, iPhone, and PC.
When Mac OS X Server Might Be Overkill
If the only purpose of the server software is to provide file sharing services then you can use the standard OS X for Mac and have that capability.
What You Need:
- >> Internet connection
- >> A Mac running Mac OS X
- >> Mac App Store account
- >> Internet connection
- >> (Optional) Custom domain name with DNS hosting
Download and Installation
The first thing to do is to decide what kind of server set up you will need. This step is crucial because it is very difficult to change the configuration after the initial set up is complete.
Before installing Lion Server you must determine if you will have a public server with external access or a local server. During the download process of Lion Server, the first task will be to configure the type of server you want to use. There are three different types of configurations to choose from.
The 3 types of Mac OS X Server configurations:
In this type of installation your server will be set up to serve and manage devices on the local network, computers inside your home or small business network. In the local server configuration for Lion Server some services are still accessible from outside the network. This is possible with just a local server, but not with a domain name. Using the local server configuration is the easiest way to install Lion Server, but keep in mind that this cannot be changed to a public server without a reinstallation.
This type of installation is similar to the local server but one difference is that it provides a more direct public access, through a Virtual Private Network (VPN). This is a secure link that provides access to your server from outside of your network. The way this set up works is by giving your server a domain name that is not a public domain name. This domain name will be accessible to users inside the network, and only to those outside of the network that are connected by a VPN. Therefore, accessing these domains from outside of your private network is not possible. In order for services such as Mail to work you will need a domain name that is linked to the public Internet address of your home or business. Some services can be accessed from outside the network, by using your public IP address rather than a domain name. Services like file sharing, calendars, contacts and wikis can be accessed without a domain name, and if you have a dynamic public IP address, then the link will need to be updated on every connected device every time your IP address changes.
If you intend to set-up a small business server, or a home server with some services accessible when you are away from the home or office without a VPN, then this is the configuration you should use. In order to use this set-up, you have to have a publicly registered domain, that points to your public IP address. With this, the server will be accessible from outside the private network with the correct domain name.
In a later article I will be going over static and dynamic IP addresses.
The three types of server installation and how they are designed to network