Erik Eckel answers the most common questions about Mac's Mobile Access Server as an alternative for network administrators considering remote access solutions.
Workforces increasingly work off site. That's no secret. Hence the growth in third-party remote and VPN hardware, software, and systems. What may be a secret though, at least to Windows administrators, is the ease with which Apple Snow Leopard Server powers remote access services. New in Snow Leopard Server version 10.6 is Mobile Access Server, a VPN alternative that offers simplified secure mobile access to corporate Intranets , email, calendars, business applications, and more.
Here's a quick primer to familiarize yourself with Snow Leopard Server's Mobile Access Server.
What does Mobile Access Server do?
Mobile Access Server provides secure remote access to a host of centralized resources, including email, corporate Web sites, online business applications, email, calendars, and contacts.
How does Mobile Access Server secure the remote connections?
The platform secures remote access to centralized corporate resources by leveraging Transport Layer Security (TLS). The SSL-encrypted link requires authenticating remote devices, including iPhones and Macs, against directory services hosted on the corporate network. Systems administrators further control security thanks to Mobile Access Server's ability to assign granular remote permissions to both users and groups.
How does Mobile Access Server simplify remote connectivity?
Mobile Access Server leverages existing directory services, including those hosted on Windows servers if so desired, to power single sign-on. Users do not need to install or configure, and neither do IT staff have to support, third-party proprietary remote connectivity software or potentially temperamental VPN hardware devices.
How is Mobile Access Server licensed?
No additional client access licenses are required. Cost savings, subsequently, are considerable, especially considering that Snow Leopard Server ships with an unlimited number of client connection licenses. A single Apple Xserver with Snow Leopard Server and mobile access services, therefore, can support businesses for exponentially less cost than can an equivalent Windows solution.
Does Mobile Access Server optimize network traffic?
Yes. Instead of routing all a remote client's traffic through the centralized corporate network the way some VPNs do, Mobile Access Server routes only corporate data through the remote link. Packets directed to/from the corporate network and its origin servers constitute the only network traffic routed through the remote corporate connection. All other network traffic is routed through the client's own local Internet or LAN circuits.
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.