Mac in Business/Enterprise

Discussion in 'Mac OS X Server, Xserve, and Networking' started by ammar17, May 31, 2014.

  1. ammar17 macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jun 29, 2013
    Location:
    Germany
    #1
    Hello,

    I am starting my own business soon. I am past the business plan writing stage and so on. The timeline has been drawn and I have around 6 months time now to officially get started.

    Apparently, I am a Mac fan. I love the experience of using my Air all the time. Anyhow, I am thinking seriously of using Mac OS in my business. It will be retail business for dental products.

    I have decided on the proper software (Point of Sale) which is Checkoutapp, and I was thinking of getting for my IT needs three new computers. Two iMacs for the office, an MBP for me on the road, and a mac mini server for the office.

    Now this brings me to my struggle. I am not an IT guy. I follow technology, really interested in it, and I have (at least I think, a pretty good idea about IT). Anyhow, I need help/guidance in several points.

    1. Do you think its a good idea to base the entire set up on Apple's ecosystem?

    2. The server.. will be used to back up the machines every night - do you guys have any ideas of backing up strategies other than onsite, time-machine based raid system? I want to feel really secure. What are my other options with the server? Do you think hosting my website on it is a good idea?

    3. E-Mail client, do you think Mail is enough? Can I connect a fax machine to it? I am a fan of paperless office. Reliable enough?

    4. Will I be able to access my office files/documents while I'm on the road using my MBP?

    5. I am aware of the higher initial costs than getting Windows machines, but I am convinced that on the long run, I will be saving money. Do you guys think its a good idea? Not? Ok, why?

    6. I am a build-it-yourself type of a person, how complicated do you think its going to be as a project? Time frame to get it all set up? Do you guys have any sources of information where I can educate myself on the matter more? Any suggestions will be really appreciate it.

    Thank you in advance!
     
  2. mvmanolov macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Aug 27, 2013
    #2
    i am using my mini as a home server but with slightly more advanced needs.

    it runs my file sharing and vpn service so i can access files anywhere (minimum 1MB/s down link from your ISP is advisable for this to work ok!) i have a raid box for file sharing but use non raid external drives for time machine (2 other macs) i also use carbon copy cloner to backup some files separately on multiple external drives and to do my monthly off-site backup (both my wife and i are phd students and our data is rather important to us!) i also use an app called chronosync to store files on the two client computers but sync them to the server on a regular basis (both for backup and for usability - our server is also our htpc and we edit our writing on the big screen)

    i think for the most part you can do it, but in my experience it took a bit of fooling around and trying to find the optimal setup. i did many fresh installs of the server machine until i got everything to work properly and like i want it.... so be prepared to have some hiccups along the way...

    if you di decide to go this route, i'd recommend that you try to get everything setup well before your business opens its doors, making sure that your equipment is doing what you want it to do....

    here are some guides that were invaluable for me....

    http://yesdevnull.net/2013/10/os-x-mavericks-server-my-tutorials/

    http://krypted.com/guides/mavericks-server/

    this last one is a nice visual overview but as a guide its not very good. i watched the videos but honestly the other two seem much more knowledgeable about setting up server than this guy.... still though i'd watch the videos.

    https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLP9lCFXVZfRNJx3S2dqM3h0NEZ5Xto2iZ

    good luck and again give yourself enough time to set everything up, test it, and make sure it works before your business opens doors...


    p.s.
    buy a smart switch.... and a good router or even a utm (Zyxell usg100, or Netgear UTM 25 or even 50) are reasonably priced.... this site has invaluable information and advice about network setup, and networking devices:
    http://www.smallnetbuilder.com
     
  3. Altemose macrumors G3

    Altemose

    Joined:
    Mar 26, 2013
    Location:
    Elkton, Maryland
    #3
    You will need to speak with your ISP about hosting a publicly accessible server. Most ISPs frown on email and file servers, even if they are just for you. My ISP is okay with file sharing, but will not allow email unless it is a business account (Comcast).

    I think Apple is the way to go for your needs. Your plan seems like it would work but let me make a few suggestions. For email, go with Google Apps for Business. You will receive a custom email page for Gmail that you and your employees can use. Secondly, RAID is not a backup system. You will want your computers to backup to the Mini, and then the Mini backup to a striped pair of drives (identical clones). Setting up a RAID can be done in numerous ways, so you want identical clones (striped pair) to protect your data in the event of single drive failure. Also have an offsite backup!
     
  4. 556fmjoe macrumors 65816

    556fmjoe

    Joined:
    Apr 19, 2014
    #4
    The best backup tool for Unix systems is tarsnap. All the files are encrypted locally, the key is never sent over the network, and you only pay for the space you use. It's very secure, private, and reliable.

    https://www.tarsnap.com
     
  5. VI™ macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Aug 27, 2010
    Location:
    Shepherdsturd, WV
    #5
    Personally, I'd do my website and e-mail through a hosting company. I use 1and1.com for my photography business and have a site hosted through them. I also have my e-mail accounts through them too, but of course I can access them through a client and on my iPad and iPhone.
     
  6. glenthompson macrumors 68000

    glenthompson

    Joined:
    Apr 27, 2011
    Location:
    Virginia
    #6
    1. It's fine as long as you can get the software needed for your business needs. Will your employees be comfortable working on Macs?

    2. You need off-site backup for critical systems. If you have adequate bandwidth, a cloud backup can be good. I use Crashplan and have been happy with it. Better to host your web site and email outside. You can get much better reliability and uptime.

    3. Mail can be enough but you need to think about how you will handle generic or public mailboxes like info@mycompany.com.

    4. The Mac server VPN works well. There can be ISP issues so check with them regarding incoming connections.

    5. Studies have shown the total cost of ownership of Macs to be equal to or better than Windows machines.

    6. Unless you're already knowledgable about a lot of the technology, it will take a lot of time to learn and configure properly. You have to decide if this is the best way to spend your time. It might be better to find someone to work with you that's willing to train you in the ongoing operation while they are setting it up.
     
  7. 960design macrumors 68030

    Joined:
    Apr 17, 2012
    Location:
    Destin, FL
    #7
    I'd say no to the mac mini. Get an Airport TimeCapsule for backup and WiFi. 2 Macs and a MBPr for the road sounds like a good plan to me.

    I'm not sure of what kind of business you are setting up, but I'd recommend a hosted solution. Pick anyone of the top 10 web hosting companies for 2014 and you'll be good, for email and files. ( JustHost - I use them for all small business clients, HostGator, ect ).

    Your job is running a business, not fighting with network, email, file server stuff. Let the webhost handle that stuff for you. I'm all about security and backing up, but people either do too little or too much. You don't need 10 copies of your files. The chances of your Mac failing is VERY, VERY SMALL. If it does you have a backup on the Time Capsule.

    For the road mac, I'd look into housing your files on the cloud or do a GIT backup everynight. That way if your MBPr gets lost, stolen, broken, a gallon of mountain dew spilled onto the keyboard your can quickly retrieve the 'lost' files.

    I promise someone will come along and argue the backup of the backup of the backup ideology of 1970. They probably still run it on a reel-to-reel. To be honest, I don't have a good arguement, you really can NOT have too many backups. I'm just saying, in 30 years of business I've only had one hard drive fail. And it had a backup. Not 10.
     
  8. kingtj macrumors 68020

    Joined:
    Oct 23, 2003
    Location:
    Brunswick, MD
    #8
    re: Macs in the office? Absolutely!

    I work for a communications marketing firm where we primarily use Macs, and have done so for years.

    There's absolutely no reason not to go that route if you like Mac OS X and you're comfortable with it.

    Personally, I'd advise that if ability to have access to your documents from anywhere is important, you want to look at a cloud-based solution. If you try to store everything on an in-house server (like a Mac Mini server), it will work just fine for people on the office network. But then you're stuck with the whole issue of keeping some sort of off-site backup for disaster recovery purposes, and figuring out solutions so people can connect back in to the office server over the Internet to get to the files and folders remotely.

    There's a good chance, IMO, that your money would be better spent on getting as fast an Internet connection as possible in the office, combined with something like a Dropbox Business account. Dropbox has an app for OS X which makes it easy to use it just like any other folder or drive on your Mac, and the Business account has nice "undelete" features so you can bring back any data someone accidentally deletes from the Dropbox. It will let you create new Dropbox business logins for any of your employees, and if those people already have personal Dropbox logins, it lets them merge them together with the business one so both sets of folders are usable with one login. (As the holder of the Dropbox Business "master" account, you'll be able to do such things as remote wiping the contents of the Business side of a user's Dropbox while leaving their personal stuff intact, should you have to let them go and don't want them retaining company data.)

    As for a fax machine? I'm of the opinion that no modern office really needs a physical fax machine and phone line anymore. Look into setting up an eFax corporate account. They'll give you a dial-in fax number to hand out, and all incoming faxes to it get sent to an email address you configure with them. Outgoing faxes are sent by emailing them to a special eFax email address with the full phone number punched in as part of the address. You can configure eFax so all the incoming faxes get emailed to you as PDF files (or TIFF files if you prefer). If you still have the need to get paper scanned in so you can fax it out? The Fujitsu ScanSnap is a great little personal scanner for the Mac, and supports scanning directly to a folder in Dropbox.



     

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