Using a MacPro as a Server

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by pjlander, Jul 28, 2009.

  1. pjlander macrumors member

    pjlander

    Joined:
    Jul 9, 2008
    Location:
    Houston, Texas
    #1
    Background:
    I have MacBook Pro. I run a small business. Some of the software that I use is only windows based. I have Paralells with XP to run this software.

    My questions:

    1. Can I use/set-up a MacPro as a server for my outside clients to access and manipulate files?
    2. If yes, do I need OS Server software to do this or is there a cheap alternative?
    3. These files and software will be in Windows. Will that be a problem for clients to access?

    Thanks.
    Jason
     
  2. oculus42 macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Dec 9, 2002
    Location:
    Maine
    #2
    Complicated

    Having people remote into a computer to access software and files directly can be cumbersome, insecure, or both. Allowing clients to access files is better accomplished with a web service. If you want them to be able to use your software, not just provide you files, it opens up a big set of concerns.

    Do you need more than one person to access the server at once? Is it acceptable if customers can see each other's files? How much do you need to prevent customers from doing on your machine? That is, should they be able to browse the web or play solitaire on your server?
     
  3. pjlander thread starter macrumors member

    pjlander

    Joined:
    Jul 9, 2008
    Location:
    Houston, Texas
    #3
    Yes, I will need only a couple people at a time to access it. It won't be a public access server and my client list is very small.
    Yes it is acceptable if customers see each others files.
    I just really need them to access one certain software, and within that software they would be allowed to edit files. I would like the server to be password protected, obviously. Does this make sense?

    I think its a pretty basic set up, but maybe not.
     
  4. geoffreak macrumors 68020

    geoffreak

    Joined:
    Feb 8, 2008
    #4
    Go with a cheap online hosting service. Most provide an FTP access (password protected), which will allow for your Windows clients to connect to it directly in Internet Explorer.

    If you don't have any experience with web stuff, I can set up a system and host it for you very cheaply (less than the cost of Leopard Server). Just click the red link in my signature for more information about what I do and my email address.
     
  5. steviem macrumors 68020

    steviem

    Joined:
    May 26, 2006
    Location:
    New York, Baby!
    #5
    Is the software only accessible using a windows application? If so, you should consider running Windows Server in the virtual machine as these users will be able to have sole access to the information. Windows Server allows Terminal Services in windows. You need a CAL for each person connecting, but these aren't too expensive <£40 each iirc.

    It is perfectly feasible though, but with Terminal Services, you can create their own username and passwords and whilst data security isn't too important for you just now, when it does become more of an issue, you will be better prepared for it.

    You would want some kind of VPN in place, just so you know it's only your clients getting access.

    It's all pretty simple to do.
     
  6. pjlander thread starter macrumors member

    pjlander

    Joined:
    Jul 9, 2008
    Location:
    Houston, Texas
    #6
    I need the client to run software off my server, not just grab files and leave. For example...a client connects to my server. He opens up the software on my server and opens files out of folders from my server. Manipulates the files while connected, and saves them back.
     
  7. geoffreak macrumors 68020

    geoffreak

    Joined:
    Feb 8, 2008
    #7
    Can you go into a bit more detail as to what you are trying to accomplish?
     
  8. pjlander thread starter macrumors member

    pjlander

    Joined:
    Jul 9, 2008
    Location:
    Houston, Texas
    #8
    Yes, I think you are grabbing the idea best.

    Yes, the software is only accessible using a Windows. But, all my other software I own and use is Mac based. So I kind of wanted to stick to using a Apple hardware. Can I run Windows Server through Parallels or is that ridiculous? I am not a server IT guy at all, so consider me clueless. The software I use now runs great on my MacBook Pro through Parallels.

    I am just looking to keep all my files in one place so when edits are done, I can access them and so can my sub contractors/clients. Instead of my current situation; send files to sub, sub edits them on his machine, sub sends them back to me, i replace old files with new ones.
     
  9. pjlander thread starter macrumors member

    pjlander

    Joined:
    Jul 9, 2008
    Location:
    Houston, Texas
    #9
    If you are familiar with GIS Mapping and ARCMAP, that is the software I am using. Its only on Windows. I want to buy a server license for my subs and myself to use, instead of buying them each a license for their machine.
     
  10. steviem macrumors 68020

    steviem

    Joined:
    May 26, 2006
    Location:
    New York, Baby!
    #10
    He wants his clients to be able to connect remotely to his windows vm, do work in an application on there and save it. All whilst connected securely.

    This is pretty achievable.

    The simplest way (not really the best way though) would be to open port 3389 on his router to the windows virtual machine. Allow Remote Desktop connection and then give his clients his external IP address.

    The limitations on this are:
    -only one person can have a session open
    -the connection is open to everyone

    The main limitations are caused by not having a VPN and by the way windows Remote Desktop behaves, it only allows one concurrent connection.
     
  11. steviem macrumors 68020

    steviem

    Joined:
    May 26, 2006
    Location:
    New York, Baby!
    #11
    Yes, Windows server runs nicely when virtualized, as long as there is 1GB or more RAM for it. As you want to keep your hardware apple, this is what I would do:

    -Mac Pro (doesn't need to be full spec at all, could even use a Mac mini)
    -Leopard Server
    -Parallels/VirtualBox
    -Windows Server 2008

    You can set up Leopard server to work as a VPN server, this will sort out the issue of security.

    Install Parallels or VirtualBox or VMWare, Install Windows Server and the software you need on there. I would put the files needed in a shared folder in windows and give each client permissions only on what they need to view, you might as well start as you mean to go on with security. Set up Terminal Services.

    Once this is done, you just need to ensure the VPN works, then your clients will be able to login to the vpn, start Remote Desktop and connect to the windows server.

    If you need any more help, just PM me, it's a pretty simple project in my opinion.
     
  12. pjlander thread starter macrumors member

    pjlander

    Joined:
    Jul 9, 2008
    Location:
    Houston, Texas
    #12
    Thanks! That is the answer I was looking for. I wasn't sure if it was possible and if it would work. I thought the idea sounded simple. I will probably be messaging you for sure. I am a novice to this stuff, but I learn very quickly.

    BTW, I dont think a MacMini is powerful enough to run all the software and client issues. The GIS software I run is extremely powerful and uses alot of memory. Plus, I want to run my Adobe Suite for my design business as well. I typically have 6 spaces open up on my MacBook Pro running almost the entire Adobe Suite, Email, Safari, Windows with email and multiple GIS software. I need a fast powerful machine.
     
  13. geoffreak macrumors 68020

    geoffreak

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    Feb 8, 2008

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