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Old Dec 22, 2011, 06:43 PM   #1
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Join Date: Jul 2005
Location: Mooresville, NC
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Macs in a medical practice

I'm the tech guy at a cosmetic medical practice with less than ten employees. The doc is finally interested in replacing our computers, and I'm thinking about switching the office to Mac. I'm wondering if the setup I envision even makes sense, or if maybe I'm biting off more than I can chew. Any feedback is welcome.

Right now we have seven workstations (Win XP) and a server running Windows Server 2003 and SQL Server 2005. We use a total of four medical programs. Everything is locked down with GPOs, and we provide remote access (Terminal Services / RDP) for staff.

Our upgrade plan as it stands includes new medical software, which replaces three of our old programs. The new system uses PostgreSQL, and we'll be keeping one program that uses MS SQL.

The setup I envision involves keeping one Windows workstation and replacing the other six with Mac Minis. (The one Windows workstation is used to take before/after photos; since it only runs this one program, there's no point in replacing it.) We would also replace the server with a Mac Mini Server and upgrade to a gigabit switch. OS X server would handle basic network functions (DHCP, file sharing, etc) and also run Windows Server 2008 via Parallels. On the workstations, OS X would be used for basic office functions, while virtual machines running Windows 7 would be utilized strictly for the medical software.

I expect that I'll run Open Directory on the Mac server so that I'm able to create security profiles for the Macs (GPO in Windows land -- unsure what to call it here). The virtual machines on the workstation would be locked down with a GPO and would only be able to run our medical programs.

In an ideal world we would have a standard virtual disk for the workstations so that we can easily recover from any Windows-based issues (which means it's ideal for them NOT to join an AD domain). The documents on each workstation would backup to the server via Time Machine, and the server would then back itself up with Time Machine to an external drive. It'd also be nice to make a standard image for the Macs so office staff could easily re-image a workstation via NetBoot in case of an issue.

The problems / questions I see:
1) Do I need to make the virtual Windows Server run Active Directory to provide a GPO for the workstation virtual machines / the one remaining PC, or can OS X Server handle this functionality? Or does it make more sense to utilize local GPOs and forget AD entirely?
2) Windows Server will obviously have to handle the MS SQL based program (as well as its special license server app, which can run on the one remaining PC if Parallels doesn't like the USB license key). Should the PostgreSQL server be in Windows or Mac? (Only Windows would access this service.)
3) We need some means of remote login for the medical programs; should the virtual Windows server just run Terminal Services / RDP, or does Mac OS X Server provide an easier way?
4) We currently login to all workstations using the same AD account. Is this okay in the land of OpenDirectory, or should each workstation have a unique OD account? And, if we do continue to use just one account, would it be better to put the home folder on the server, or to backup the home folder from each workstation to the server via Time Machine?

I'm not very experienced with Mac OS X Server, but I do have experience with administrating Windows Server, Windows XP / 7, and Mac OS X. Like I said, all feedback is welcome. Thanks!
-John Mairs
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