Small Business Server Questions...

Discussion in 'Mac OS X Server, Xserve, and Networking' started by Luthersnewboots, Jan 18, 2016.

  1. Luthersnewboots macrumors newbie

    Apr 17, 2015
    Hi all, I'm a long time Mac user but I have absolutely no experience with OSX Server.
    I run a small staffing agency and we are expanding.
    We are looking at taking on a new staff member and have a few questions about the best way to work collaboratively.
    Until now myself and my colleague have been working off Macbooks and we are have an imac that will be delegated to the new employee to use.
    I have a few questions.
    1/. Will setting up OSX Server 5 make our numbers document sharing more collaborative. We had all sorts of problems sharing on icloud with loads of versions, administrator selecting the correct doc e.t.c so we moved the file to box. Now we seem to have issues with that too, multiple files again. If this doc was stored on OSX server will this solve these issues. Is there a way to enable real time editing for multiple parties at once?
    2/. The new employee will be using the imac, we dont want to grant admin rights to this employee, but will server be able to run in the background? Can I then login as an administrator on my macbook and make any necessary changes whilst this employee is still using the imac?
    3/. Will we be able to access this computer remotely? just as we do in the office? i.E will we be able to access that numbers doc from a remote location?
    4/. Can I use a Time Capsule, plugged in to the iMac to backup all computers using server? I dont really want to use the imac as the backup device as we would like this backup to be portable should we change the imac in future.
    5/. What other benefits could we get from running server?

    Thanks very much for considering my post.
  2. sevoneone macrumors 6502

    May 16, 2010
    First, congrats on expanding your business!

    For what you are wanting to do, I don't think that OS X server is going to be the right solution, or may only be part of the solution. Server's collaboration features are limited to Mail/Contacts/Calendars a Wiki server, and a Jabber based Chat server. None of them particularly cutting edge.

    OS X Server's core features come into play in an environment where many Macs and iOS devices and their users need to be deployed and centrally managed. I think it would be overkill for what you are describing as a 3 user/3 Mac environment.

    As you have also noticed, iCloud, a consumer platform, is not always the right choice for SMBs looking for the basics of collaboration and cloud services and Apple doesn't have anything on the market that does.

    What is your current solution for email and cloud? My suggestion would be to consider a platform like Google Apps for Work or Microsoft Office 365. These are services that are built around enterprise class productivity services and colaboration features exactly like you are looking to do. They offer great value and integrate very well on the Mac. Each has its pros and cons, so you will need to do your research, but, as much as I hate to say it, both are much more robust than what Apple currently offers.

    Google Apps is about $5 per user per month. O365 varies, but for about $10 per user per month, the subscription includes the full Office suite for all your Macs, PCs and mobile devices. When you consider the costs and hassle of maintaining an onsite server, these costs are minimal.

    To answer your questions directly:

    1. No. Collaborative document editing in the way you describe is not a feature of OS X server.

    2. Yes. If you install Server on the iMac, any services will run in the background even when a non-admin is logged in, and you can run the Server application on any other Mac on the network and remotely administer the Server without disrupting anything.

    3. If you are looking for iWork for iCloud/Box/Google Drive style online document editing and live collaboration, no, that is not something that Server can do. You can do basic File Sharing, but that is limited to a single person making edits to a file at a time.

    4. Yes, there is a Time Machine server built into OS X server, but, if you already have a Time Capsule, it is completely redundant. The key benefit of it is to be able to backup Macs on your network to any hard drive attached to the server. It's really no different than just backing up to the Time Capsule directly.

    5. The benefits you would get from running OS X server, your business is not large enough to to realize yet IMO. If you had 6 employees running around with company owned MacBooks and iPads/iPhones, then the device and user management features of Server might be worth a look.

    For your use case and the features you are looking for, the best option is to look to a cloud services provider.
  3. Geeky Chimp macrumors regular

    Jun 3, 2015
    Well done on the expansion of your business. We have just moved over to OS X Server from Windows Servers and have found it a rewarding move. Hopefully the below will help;

    1. OS X Server File Sharing is more just a remote store rather than allowing multiple users real time editing. This is available on iWork for iCloud though if that helps?

    2. OS X Server services all run in the background, however, I'd personally recommend getting a Mac Mini to run as the server rather than letting users log in to the server machine.

    3. OS X Server has the VPN service and WebDAV sharing built in which would allow you remote access to your file shares.

    4. The Macs can be setup to backup to the Time Capsule directly. If you didn't/don't already have a time capsule you can just connect a USB Hard Disk to backup to, and configure the backups using the Time Machine part of OS X Server.

    5. Not sure what you use in terms of Mail, Calendar Sharing, Contacts Sharing, but these are all part of OS X Server. You also have things like Profile Manager to configure and distribute apps to all of your Macs, iPads and iPhones. You've also got Caching Server to cache software and updates saving bandwidth.
  4. Luthersnewboots thread starter macrumors newbie

    Apr 17, 2015
    Wow, two incredibly detailed replies. Thanks very much. Going to sample OSX server for the mail/calendar e.t.c but use google docs for real-time collaboration.
  5. Altemose macrumors G3


    Mar 26, 2013
    Elkton, Maryland
    @Luthersnewboots I personally have setup multiple OS X Server deployments for businesses and educational environments with varying needs. To address your points:

    1. While OS X Server offers File Sharing, multiple-user collaboration is best left to a cloud document provider like Google Docs or Microsoft Word Online.
    2. You can create roaming profiles for when on the network, which would in turn allow any user to sign in on any Mac and have their changes saved in their home folders. Otherwise, you would still use "local" user accounts and the user of the MacBook would not be affected by the iMac user's actions and vice versa.
    3. Yes. File Sharing is available via the Internet as are the VPN and other tools offered by OS X Server. However, if collaboration is the primary need then it may be beneficial to store data on Google Drive or OneDrive instead of a local server.
    4. Yes. You can configure the Time Capsule to be the backup destination for all of your Macs, regardless of the status of the iMac or other OS X Server equipped Macs.
    5. OS X Server offers a wide variety of services listed here that may benefit your business.
    Let me know if you need any further insight!

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