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.
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.
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.