Erik Eckel takes a look at Apple's Wiki Server 2, included with Mac OS X Snow Leopard Server and evaluates it for use in the enterprise.
Organizations are best served when they spend their time leveraging productivity tools instead of planning, deploying, and administering the corresponding underlying infrastructure. It's the actual productivity that makes a difference, which is why Ross Perot, the former IBM salesman and business titan, is often quoted as saying, "Talk is cheap. Words are plentiful. Deeds are precious."
IT investments-particularly those that enable teamwork, collaboration, and communication-are only as effective as the productivity they empower. That's why Apple's Wiki Server 2 (included within Mac OS X Snow Leopard Server) is such an important utility.
The tool's enterprise benefits are significant. The Wiki server is easy to set up. It's even easier for team members themselves to create, update, and maintain their own wiki-powered Web sites, thereby freeing enterprise IT staff resources for other projects.
Security is simple. Wiki Server leverages Mac OS X Snow Leopard Server's Open Directory to authenticate users. No additional systems administration is necessary.
Better yet, the Wiki server software is included within Mac OS X Snow Leopard Server, which boasts unlimited client licenses for just $499 and doesn't require overly sophisticated server infrastructure.
Wiki Server 2 benefits
Apple's Wiki Server 2 offers enterprises help with possibly the most difficult internal challenge large organizations face: communication.
Mac OS X Snow Leopard's Wiki Server 2 makes it easy for teams to collaborate on projects. In addition to enabling teams of all sizes to create easily edited wiki-powered Web sites, Wiki Server 2 includes blog, shared-group calendaring (thanks to iCal Server integration), email notifications and group mailing list support, document versioning, powerful search, and other features and capabilities.
Because user changes to the Wiki-powered sites occur in real time, and because the server feature provides complete versioning and revision tracking while also tracking critical milestone dates, teams can quickly deploy powerful Web-based tools that can be used to coordinate projects, maintain a master file repository, and manage team-wide communications (thanks to supported integrated email and RSS subscription functionality).
Organizations need not have standardized on Apple systems to tap Wiki Server 2's capabilities, either. Wiki Server-powered sites are compatible with Mac, PC, iPhone and even iPod Touch users. Recommended browsers include Apple's Safari (on either the Mac, Windows, or iPhone platform), Internet Explorer and Firefox.
Teams can begin using Wiki Server 2 right out of the box. The server feature includes some 20 built-in themes, each of which can be customized with different fonts, colors ,and layouts. Organizations can also add their own art and logos as graphical elements. No advanced editing or programming skills of any kind are required; keeping with Apple tradition, and adding and editing content is simple and straightforward.
New in Wiki Server 2 is Mac OS X: Quick Look. Users can leverage the Quick Look feature to perform online searches and view results in cloud-based files without having to download to their local system the target files. Quick Look supports all most common file standards, too, including text files, Word and Pages documents, Excel and Numbers spreadsheets, PowerPoint and Keynote presentations, QuickTime videos ,and PDF files.
QuickSearch, meanwhile, is another Wiki Server feature. New in Snow Leopard Server, QuickSearch enables searching multiple wiki sites, mailing lists, calendars, podcasts, blogs, and other sources.
Organizations seeking to deploy simple, easily maintained Wikis that encourage teamwork and improve communication should consider deploying Wiki Server 2. Apple has introduced a new Mac Mini preloaded with Snow Leopard Server. Priced at just $999, including the Mac server OS, the new option offers enterprise organizations seeking to test the Wiki functionality an inexpensive method of doing just that. However, testing may not require making any investment at all. Teams that already have a Mac in place can test Mac OS X Snow Leopard Server at no charge. They only need to request a free, fully functional evaluation copy from Apple.
Erik Eckel owns and operates two technology companies. As a managing partner with Louisville Geek, he works daily as an IT consultant to assist small businesses in overcoming technology challenges and maximizing IT investments. He is also president of Eckel Media Corp., a communications company specializing in public relations and technical authoring projects.