Purchased Mac Mini Server w/ 12 iPads, I have questions

Discussion in 'Mac OS X Server, Xserve, and Networking' started by kryptekz, Feb 20, 2012.

  1. kryptekz, Feb 20, 2012
    Last edited: Feb 20, 2012

    kryptekz macrumors newbie

    Apr 20, 2010
    Some background:

    I have a small business with 12 iPads deployed to each team leader. The team leader completes a work log on a template I created in pages.

    At the end up the day they upload to dropdav, which then gets synced to my dropbox.

    I want to cut that step out, I do not want to associate these files with dropdav and dropbox, which is why I purchased the Mac Mini Server.

    I also purchased the server because it'll make managing the iPads much easier than individually servicing them. I've read that the server uses a iPhone configuration utility and will be able to change settings and update apps.

    My questions are:

    Is OSX able to retrieve the files off the iPad's? (pages, numbers) wireless? Each iPad has their own account since I had some major syncing issues (about 250 documents in pages) and that caused mass confusing among iCloud trying to figure out who has the newest version etc...

    Also how hard is it to set up a webdav server on the server? The only problem with webdav is it a one way only submission. (I cannot edit what they submit and send it back to the iPad).

    My idea is to create 12 users on the Mac mini and each with their own iCloud account. Then retrieve them that way.

    Is there a better solution?

    I appreciate any responses!

    Side question

    My book keeper uses a Lenovo T520 for quickbooks. I've read that the windows quickbooks is far more developed than the Mac version. So I will have to stay with Windows quickbooks.

    The book keep also reads the work logs I edit, currently she has access to the drop box account that all the information is uploaded to.

    Will I have any issues sharing to the Lenovo from the Mac mini server? If she wants to view the logs in PDF form. I know pages files are almost impossible to view in windows.

    Or do you think I should purchase a Mac for her and use parallels for quickbooks? If I do that, and create a user on the Mac mini server, will she be able to log in from home to the server via VPN? Will the quickbook files be accessible? In parallels, are the documents saved on the server or on the mac itself?

    Yes I know many questions. I appreciate it!
  2. BrotherBeagle, Feb 21, 2012
    Last edited: Feb 21, 2012

    BrotherBeagle macrumors member

    Aug 11, 2010
    Document/device syncing is a client side action. At this time there isn't a good method for automating that. In other words, no -- you're not going to be able to toggle a switch on OS X Server and acquire documents from your field devices.

    Additionally, iCloud is NOT designed for Enterprise use. Don't build around it for production services, you're going to have a greater chance of regretting that decision than not.

    WebDAV is meant for off device storage.

    Register a domain, configure DNS and forward all required ports. Now, create your user accounts, create their shares and enable WebDAV. Now, your users can log into their share from anywhere.

    If you're looking to allow for cross-user access, consider group shares and set your permissions accordingly.

    Better? That's all dependent upon your needs, expectations, willingness to compromise and budget.

    Evernote might be a good solution. I haven't worked on it on this level, but perhaps it would meet your needs as it does offer group sharing.

    Apple's Wiki server also provides document sharing. It falls apart scaling up to my needs, but for a small workgroup like yours, it might be fine.

    All said, It sounds to me like what you're looking for is more of a groupware solution. Once upon a time, I was a die hard proponent for eGroupware. It's a lovely system (well, it was a couple of years back... I haven't looked at it in a while).

    It's LDAP aware and works with WebDAV shares. (With over two thousand iPads in the field right now, I should probably take another look at it.)

    Good luck.
  3. kryptekz, Feb 21, 2012
    Last edited: Feb 21, 2012

    kryptekz thread starter macrumors newbie

    Apr 20, 2010
    Thanks for your reply! Very helpful.

    I'm going to implement a plan taking what you've said in consideration.

    I do know that iCloud is not meant for enterprise applications (read that can't even guarantee the 99.9% uptime) We are a small-micro business (non-tech) that does not need an over kill tech solution.
    I learned that iCloud has difficulty with managing many (~200 files in pages), it could not determine which device had the newest version and would create duplicates. We really do not use iCloud, just more of the uploading to a webdav server and going from there.

    iCloud is great for calendar though and tracking.

    I meant a better solution with what we have. We used to use 100% paper (up till last October), I think we are one of the first Landscaping company in the area to implement such technology. We have cut paper down to a bare minimum.

    I've looked into other devices, such as the chrome books, tablets.

    The iPad look to be the best solution, especially the used ones. I was able to purchase 12 ipads with 3g for around 3200. I think that was a great deal. Especially with the plan only being around 15 a month per iPad. The features for that price is what I think a steal. Tracking, messaging, email, and accessing irrigation management websites on the go. Plus Pages and Numbers is probably the best mobile documenting software available. I've tried other softwares, even on the android platform, nothing comes close to how well developed iWorks is on the iPads.

    I am looking into the Apple Wiki Server, I like the idea but don't know if it will work well with my environment.

    Also this question has probably been asked a lot but how well does a osx and a windows system share their files? Will I have issues? I've read to just enable smb in the mac file sharing settings but don't know if there is more too it.
  4. BrotherBeagle macrumors member

    Aug 11, 2010
    Sorry if the iCloud comment came off arrogant. I've been beating my head against Apple's refusal to release an enterprise level iCloud (even for just Find my iThing) for too long. Every couple of weeks, I wind up with another school district coming to discuss our deployment/management process and that's become my something of my motto, "iCloud isn't for enterprise!"

    If it were in my court, I'd begin by creating your users on the Mini, establishing a group for them and enabling WebDAV on the share. Follow up with individual folders for each user in the group share so that the employees can just 'export to webdav' from Pages/Numbers to the server. This way, they can maintain documents both for their own purposes (in their home directory) or for sharing (in the group directory).

    As for sharing between Mac and Windows, OS X handles SMB fine in a workgroup setting. Enable SMB for all the shares as well on the Mac side or simply point to the Windows share from the Mac (command-k in the finder, smb://windows.server/sharename ). Slashes are reversed from the Windows side of the house...
  5. proboscisjoe macrumors member


    May 12, 2008
  6. buffsldr macrumors 6502a


    May 7, 2001
  7. Kasalic macrumors regular

    Jan 20, 2011
    I'd also recommend looking FileMaker, we use it to provide access to clients details and passwords as well as completing job/time sheets on site. I'm not sure if the Filemaker Server is available for Mac OS X Server as we use the Windows Server version, and this maintains authentication through AD.
  8. BrotherBeagle macrumors member

    Aug 11, 2010
    It is -- and there's a native iOS client (Filemaker Go) version as well.

    Good call.
  9. Kasalic macrumors regular

    Jan 20, 2011
    Yup and development of simple documents for field staff to complete is quick and relatively painless :)

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