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jenster81
Mar 14, 2013, 07:00 AM
Hi All, thanks in advance for reading and any help you can give!

Here is the scenario, we are a family business, we run a small marketing and design agency, full time and we do pretty well.

Our current set up is 2 x mac minis and 2 x ipads with the potential of adding a couple of laptops in the future.

At the moment, we use Highrise for our CRM - which, to be honest, I hate. I don't like paying monthly fees just to share our contacts. We do use the notes feature for contacts but not the email BCC'ing etc.

I have literally been searching for months now to find a simple solution to sharing contacts, without a monthly fee or hefty set up.

I have tried Daylite, but it's mega overkill for what we need and at £400 for two licenses i don't really think it's worth it.

I have tried other online software but again, you're tied into a monthly fee forever.

Unless we share the same iCloud account, we cannot share our address book on the mac and there doesn't seem to be a decent programme on the mac to handle contacts that adds individual notes to a contact too.

In addition, we currently share iCloud calendars with each other which is ok, but not perfect.

We use Dropbox teams for our file sharing - which we're happy with.

So, anyway, finally getting to my question!

Will OSx server app, allow us to share the address book and calendars ok? And will i need to buy a new mac mini to host the blinkin thing? Or can i install the £14 server software on my mac mini and control it from there?

This whole area on the mac is a minefield. If Daylite was half the price, I'd buy it - others have mentioned Filemaker Pro - but two licenses are over £500 and if we want it to be served rather than just published online, it doubles the price. There doesn't seem to be a simple option here and it is really driving me insane.

I wouldn't have a problem buying a third basic mac mini (we dont need the high spec mac mini server as we wouldn't be using the full features of it) to host the server on - if this was the best option.

I have no idea if i have actually asked a question here, but ive gone round in so many circles! As we are growing we need to make sure things are easy, accessible and scalable and at the moment, we log into around 5 or 6 different systems to keep things going and it doesn't make sense.

Any advice would be most welcome. :)

Many thanks

Jen



Consultant
Mar 15, 2013, 12:03 AM
"Calendar Server makes sure everyone knows where to be and when to be there. Everyone can share calendars, schedule meetings, book conference rooms, and coordinate events. Contacts Server makes it easy to share contacts and keep them in sync on the Mac, iPad, and iPhone. Mail Server in OS X Server works with email clients on the Mac, iPad, iPhone, and PC. It supports push notifications for immediately notifying users when new mail messages arrive. With built-in virus detection and junk mail filtering, unwanted mail doesn’t come close."

https://www.apple.com/osx/server/features/#communication

Perhaps read the page about OS X server instead calling something a minefield?

jenster81
Mar 15, 2013, 04:21 AM
Wow, what an undeserved and unnecessary response. Many thanks for that.

I not a complete idiot and have read the capabilities of mac OSX server, but part of my question was "...will i need to buy a new mac mini to host the blinkin thing? Or can i install the £14 server software on my mac mini and control it from there?" plus confirmation that it actually does work as said - as there have been many complaints that it doesn't work as promised.

I'm sorry if my post irritated you, I'm not a techy, I'm just trying to find the best solution with a little bit of advice. I do believe the area is a minefield as no one solution seems to solve every problem - hence the comments about the cloud software, Daylite, Filemaker etc. Perhaps I didn't word the question well enough or use the right terminology, but that probably stems from my point of confusion. I apologise for that.

I guess if I can expect that kind of 'advice' here then I should move on.

AshMan
Mar 15, 2013, 09:38 AM
You should be able. To just run server on your current mini.

I would definately max your ram as server services will use some.

Server is basically an app that you install. You could run it on any Mac really as far as I know.

You could utilize the calendar and contacts features. Contacts server will let you have a global address list as well.

mwhities
Mar 15, 2013, 12:10 PM
I'd say use your least used Mac mini and upgrade the ran for sure.

I currently use my "family" (my family uses it everyday) 2010 Mac mini with Server installed. I only use it fo VPN, DNS, File Sharing, and some times TimeMachine (recent drive fail, waiting for the new one to arrive.)

But as Ashman stated, calendars and contacts can be utilized. I never messed with it, no need at the house but, looking over it, seems easily enough to get running.

Good luck and I'll offer assistance if I can.

losthorse
Mar 15, 2013, 01:01 PM
The Mac mini server is a fine computer and makes a decent server depending on your needs. It is more then capable of doing everything you are asking, provided that you are comfortable with server functions and potentially some command line operations. Running a server is not just point and click like most of apples other software.

Another thing to consider is how you will use it. You mentioned using two iPads... If you are going to use them when you are not on the same network, then you will have to get a static IP address and configure your router and firewall to allow you to connect.

An alternative solution would be Google Apps for small business. It does everything you want (and more) and is ready to go out of the box. It is a subscription, but so is a static IP address.

Good luck!

LucidX
Mar 16, 2013, 08:00 PM
I second trying out google apps. It sounds like you don't have high end requirements and they should suffice.

jenster81
Mar 18, 2013, 04:43 AM
Thanks everyone - I've looked into Google apps before - the lack of additional info into the contacts has been a problem (as have mac address book to be fair) When i import my contacts into Google apps, it imports one phone number and an email address and name and puts EVERYTHING else into a notes field - it's an utter nightmare when you already have a significant list size!

The static IP is a good point - had forgotten about that, if we host anything ourselves, then yes that's going to be an issue!

I think I'm either going to have to commission someone to build me the web app that i want(!) or head back to the online app world.

Thanks again everyone, I'm not sure the need for the server is there. Will save my money!

kweevuss
Mar 18, 2013, 11:21 PM
Thanks everyone - I've looked into Google apps before - the lack of additional info into the contacts has been a problem (as have mac address book to be fair) When i import my contacts into Google apps, it imports one phone number and an email address and name and puts EVERYTHING else into a notes field - it's an utter nightmare when you already have a significant list size!

The static IP is a good point - had forgotten about that, if we host anything ourselves, then yes that's going to be an issue!

I think I'm either going to have to commission someone to build me the web app that i want(!) or head back to the online app world.

Thanks again everyone, I'm not sure the need for the server is there. Will save my money!

You don't need a static IP. I have been using a dynamic DNS name for a long time with my Mac mini server and works great. You can try dyndns.com. I'm not sure if they offer any free anymore but the $20/year isn't a bad price either

jomobco
Mar 21, 2013, 11:28 PM
I also have a family business where contacts need to be shared. You can do that through system preferences>mail/contacts/calendars and then just share your contacts with others. You cannot divide them that I know of into say private and public so they are all there but my wife and I have access to each others contacts through address book. It sounds like we have very similar needs to yours. We also use dropbox as our share point. We use ical through the cloud to share calendars and can set appointments for each other, view schedules, etc. We left daylite and are much happier with this set-up. I had many problems with daylite duplicating data and contacts and got tired of trying to fix it. That was the same reason I left Windows SBS. I don't get paid to be my tech support person :)

Edit: thinking about it you could probably just create an icloud account just for your business contacts and then share that with whomever. Just a though.

ChrisA
Mar 22, 2013, 11:17 PM
...will i need to buy a new mac mini to host the blinkin thing? Or can i install the £14 server software on my mac mini and control it from there?...

I prefer Google's service. That way everything is available from any computer. It you keep the data on your own server then when you are using a notebook at some other location your data is not available. Keeping this on an Internet "Could" make sense.

The reason many people buy a separate computer to run server software on is because the desktop computers tend to be powered off and on. A server needs to be left running 24x7. Having a separate computer also helps with firewall issues whenyou want to make data available over the Internet.

Don't get angry with peole who try and help. I read your question the same way, as some one who had not yet read even Apple's web page

Kasalic
Apr 1, 2013, 08:20 AM
Bit late to this thread, but from your description of the business I think it may be worth looking at investing in a Mac Mini Server. This would give you the contacts and calendar sharing you need now, and you could easily setup a shared folder for saving work that more than one user needs to access. This could in future also provide other services, such as mail, centralised Time Machine backups etc.

I would recommend buying a dedicated Mac Mini to run the server, the Mac Mini Server is best as it has two hard drives, which you can set as a Raid 1 array, this would allow the server to keep running in the event of a hard drive failure. You could buy the entry level Mac Mini, you would just have some downtime when the drive failed. In either case you will need to ensure you have a backup system in place, I would recommend using external hard drives and Carbon Copy Cloner, keep one drive on site and the other off site.