Apple optimize

Mac Mini Server ideal for SMBs

For SMBs that need a lot of power without the configuration and maintenance headaches, the Mac Mini with OS X Server can support substantial business operations.

Despite its misleading small size -- it weighs just 2.9 pounds while measuring only 1.4 inches high, 7.7 inches wide and 7.7 inches deep -- the Mac Mini with OS X Server packs quite a wallop and can power substantial business operations:

  • 2.3GHz quad-core Intel Core i7-powered CPU computer
  • Support for up to two 1TB traditional drives or a pair of 256GB SSDs
  • 16GB RAM
  • 10Gbps Thunderbolt port
  • 800 Mbps Firewire port and four USB 3.0 ports, not too mention HDMI out and Gigabit Ethernet

Serious business capacity

American singer/songwriter Steve Earle once wrote, in "Sweet Little '66," that "those stickers in the window ain't just for show." The song was homage to his Chevy muscle car, but the sentiment remains true with Apple's Mac mini; the server's specs aren't simply boisterous marketing. The OS X server is designed to power an SMB's entire operations, from network services to file sharing to email.

Mated to OS X Server, the combined software/hardware platform proves approachable, scalable and secure. It's a potent combination. And unlike Windows servers, which requires separate client access licenses for each user who connects to the server and additional mailbox (Exchange) licenses, SMBs need not worry about such licensing auditing, tracking and expense. With Mac OS X Server, SMBs can add an unlimited number of Mac and PC users without incurring or requiring additional licenses.

SMB-friendly

Because small and medium businesses often don't maintain or cannot afford large in-house information technology departments, the Mac OS X Server's simplified interface and ease of administration proves a more friendly fit. The platform's new Server app  assists smaller companies, and even firms without a dedicated full-time professional, to deploy and maintain a server more quickly and easily. The step-by-step Server app essentially provides a wizard that guides installation and configuration, thereby helping SMBs focus on their core mission and goals versus technology administration chores.

Increasingly, organizations of all sizes are becoming dependent, too, upon mobile operations and team collaboration. Yet these services (team wikis, email, mobile device integration, etc.) often prove taxing to configure and support and require massive investments. Mac mini with OS X Server already includes such support administered by using easily configured access control lists that further empower end users without any additional technology investments or complicated maintenance.

While some feature sets might be limited, and SMBs will find their integration experiences proceed more smoothly when operating other Apple technologies (including Apple Calendar, Mac Mail, iPhones and iPads), the ability to deploy a single compact chassis that powers all of a small business's back end operations truly exists with OS X Mac mini server across a wide range of vertical markets, including education, nonprofits, professional services, manufacturing, health care and retail.

The Mac mini server even simplifies disaster planning. Time Machine makes the often cumbersome job of creating backups easy with no need to purchase and deploy third-party tools. SMBs find such integrated features help free resources previously dedicated to IT tasks that can then be shifted to fulfilling core, mission-focused and revenue-generating responsibilities.

About

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 o...

4 comments
rtrujillo@metalsurfaces.
rtrujillo@metalsurfaces.

Is there a way to put two of these Mac Servers in sync? Can you also put certain services in sync? That would be nice if it's possible. Thanks, Raul

Roc Riz
Roc Riz

After working many years with Novell, Microsoft, and TCP/IP networks, building and configuring them, I had the chance to set up one of these babies. It can be as simple as one wants, if you lack the experience, or you can drill down, and configure all the little minutiae that comes with an IP network. The menus are easy to follow, and with a little bit of work, you can have a full-fledged server up and running in less than an hour. It was really what I would call a miracle that Apple could get their server software so easy as it is, yet so able to be drilled down into, that someone like me, who knows what all this stuff means, can setup little things (and not so little things) that the average person has no clue about.

BobManGM
BobManGM

I'm not sure what niche to put this piece into; advertising or marketing. Great, you are happy with a product...good. Give me information I can use and not just what I can read off the box.

themacjesus
themacjesus

Hi @Raul, I've looked into this on a few occasions where I've found myself setting up a few OS X Servers for a client and the short answer is yes, sort of. Let me explain, OS X Servers inherently offer load balancing for specific services such as Open Directory and User Management. As you add servers to the environment, these services will synchronize their respective databases to ensure that all servers maintain up to date, similar to Active Directory Replication in Windows Server. Beyond that, other services are not load balanced by default and according to Apple's manuals for OS X Server, will require a special load-balancing device or switch with load-balancing capability. There isn't a load balance feature within the newer builds of OS X Server (10.7+) that I'm aware of, but using a hardware-based device to balance the load does offer a few extra benefits to offset the cost: Scalability and Fault Tolerance are two key features. Also, Better Performance is usually seen as the device handles the aggregate requests coming in for services and will route the data packets to the server consuming the least amount of resources, speeding up delivery considerably. Hope this helps shed a little light!