Mac Mini Server vs Airport Extreme

Discussion in 'Mac OS X Server, Xserve, and Networking' started by jeremymcgill, Oct 1, 2013.

  1. jeremymcgill macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Oct 1, 2013
    Location:
    San Diego, CA
    #1
    I have a small business I help provide tech support. They have a old Xserve still running 10.4. Over the years almost all of their services have migrated to cloud base services vs services that originally were provided by the Xserve.

    I am looking to decommission the Xserve but am at a crossroad. Do I put in a new Mac Mini Server or just a Airport Express. Right now the only real useful purpose the xserve is providing is local DNS, DCHP with static map assignments, NAT, Firewall, VPN and a local only intra-net webpage with some helpful links.

    I'd love to get the opinion of the community here. I like the different opinions.

    Thank you in advance.
     
  2. phrehdd macrumors 68040

    phrehdd

    Joined:
    Oct 25, 2008
    #2
    Is there a reason you are limiting options to these two choices?
     
  3. jeremymcgill thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Oct 1, 2013
    Location:
    San Diego, CA
    #3
    Great point....I'm open to other ideas. What do you think?
     
  4. alexrmc92 macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Feb 7, 2013
    #4
    The mac mini would make VPN a lot easier, otherwise you can do all of that in linux fairly easily.
     
  5. AtomicGrog macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jul 25, 2011
    #5
    Tried the mac mini route, imo the server software took a bad turn when they rolled out the 'addon' rather than the bespoke full build. It works but is over spec'd imo if you just want network (DHCP, DNS, Fileshare) etc. It would come more into it's own if you want more authentication and richer web (Wiki etc.).

    Tried the airport extreme option as well... didnt find it paricularly reliable (drives drop out from time to time) and it didnt provide me with the resilience etc. that i wanted.

    So...

    I went down the NAS route. I currently have a QNAP... raid drives, dhcp, web, vpn, , download services, content management, stable and for me also has the added benefit of having a HDMI output as a media player.
     
  6. ghellquist macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Aug 21, 2011
    Location:
    Stockholm Sweden
    #6
    My 5 cents.

    1.)Find a good router with DNS, NAT and the other network parts. It could be an Airport, but why limit yourself to that -- there are a lot of other choices. The Airports are good for what they do, but are mostly aimed at the single user, not for larger groups. You might want to be able to manage it remotely (which raises a lot of security issues but saves trips to the office). You might want the router to include security functions such as blocking of certain known bad sites and so on. Think carefully if you want to add VPN-facilities, allowing the business PC-s to log on to the local network over normal internet.

    2.) Add a separate NAS (network storage) in your local network for handling backups and shared files. Go for a RAID configuration there and consider what other facilities you require. A very good idea is to plan for having copies of the backups stored off-site. This will allow the business to continue even if the house with the NAS burns down. Note that not all NAS handles Mac backups very well.

    3.) If the internal web site basically handles static web pages, simply create .html files on the NAS and point the web browsers there. No need for a specific web server.

    4.) If the business wants an external web page, recommend them to Place it on a good web hotel outside of the business. This is a lot easier than trying to host a web site yourself.
     
  7. jeremymcgill thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Oct 1, 2013
    Location:
    San Diego, CA
    #7
    Thank you all for you responses.

    ghellquist... I think I am going to go more with your route. simple but no compromise on services.

    Great job... thank you everyone.

    Continued thoughts are welcome. Anyone want to comment on what ghellquist had to say?
     
  8. phrehdd macrumors 68040

    phrehdd

    Joined:
    Oct 25, 2008
    #8
    Very well stated. I am unsure why people feel they must operate in an entirely Apple product based world. Btw, I have exactly the set up you suggested because of my needs for small business at home. The same set up on a slightly larger scale (perhaps better equipment) would serve well in an office.

    My set up -
    Macs, 7 port router w/WiFi, 2 x NAS, dumb cable internet modem (dumb as in no bells and whistles just internet and cable) plus a couple of switches. The only Mac items are computers, iPhones and iPads.

    ----------

    I would suggest you also investigate some good UPS units. (Battery backup units such as Cyber, APS etc.). If you are investing in some electronics, it would be wise to protect them against blackouts and surges (better units handle brown outs somewhat well).
     
  9. Kasalic macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2011
    #9
    I'd second the option of a decent business class router. Tried to use an AirPort Extreme that a customer had been sold along with a Mac Mini Server, and ended up replacing it with a Draytek Vigor. Being able to have ports opened and closed automatically by the server was ok, but trying to get it to work nicely with DNS, DHCP etc with an ADSL connection was a nightmare.

    Get a business class router and you can configure it to do exactly what you need, including a VPN connection.
     
  10. BayouTiger macrumors 6502

    BayouTiger

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2008
    Location:
    New Orleans
    #10
    I agree with the business router suggestion. I have two SonicWall TZ-200's in my small offices. They work well and are very powerful but have a bit of a learning curve.
     

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