Will OSX server facilitate collaboration between users from different organizations?

Discussion in 'Mac OS X Server, Xserve, and Networking' started by yegneph, Jun 16, 2009.

  1. yegneph macrumors newbie

    Jun 16, 2009
    Hello. A google search, search of this site and review of Mac Leopard server documentation weren't helpful. I know little about servers and any advice is appreciated.

    I am involved in a collaboration between two universities. Users at each site connect to their own exchange server and other site-specific resources from behind the university firewall. However, we also want to share certain resources between sites, which currently isn't possible due to the firewalls. The total number of users is 20; about half use Macs.

    - shared secure access to files
    - access to shared calendar data so we can book meetings across sites from Outlook/iCal as we currently do within each site
    - shared Wiki access
    - ability to iChat between sites (currently blocked by one site)

    1. Will a new machine running OSX 10.5 or 10.6 solve this problem by acting as a bridge between the two university networks? I envision that users would connect by VPN to the new server, which would in turn connect to the two exchange servers for calendar information.

    2. The new machine could reside either on the public internet or behind one of the two firewalls. Would either be preferable?

    3. I understand that a VPN connection to the iChat server would facilitate iChat connections across the firewalls as long as the relevant ports are not blocked within the university networks. Is this correct?

    Thanks for your consideration and apologies for the long post.
  2. belvdr macrumors 603

    Aug 15, 2005
    No longer logging into MR
    I would place the end solution behind one of the firewalls, and create a site-to-site VPN between the sites. Then each user would access the system directly, with no need for each client to use VPN.

    It seems there are numerous solutions to fill this void. Any reason to choose iChat though? What about your Windows users?
  3. yegneph thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jun 16, 2009
    Thank you belvdr.

    We are currently using iChat (with some difficulty) and everyone likes it. Windows users currently need to borrow a public Mac machine to do iChat, which seems to work. Would running iChat server improve the experience for Windows clients?

    As for your suggestion about site to site VPN, would remote users ( example, users from either university who are traveling off-site) be easily able to connect to the server as well?
  4. belvdr macrumors 603

    Aug 15, 2005
    No longer logging into MR
    I'm not sure if hosting an iChat server would solve your issues or not. Personally, we ran MSN, AOL, or another client, especially since we only needed chat.

    Depending on the configuration, remote users at either site should be able to remotely VPN back to their school and access the site.
  5. Cabbit macrumors 68020


    Jan 30, 2006
    For a iChat server i have to say a lot of businesses i have worked in i have implemented Skype across the board as it works on Windows, Linux, and Mac OS without any issues, it was always well received and the users of it can take mobile, home, anywhere as you know we don't want to spend all week in a stuffy office.

    As i spent much of my time with the senior staff entertaining visiting clients at restaurants or coffee shops but was always able to receive a skype request when a staff member was in trouble or shh into the server to find missing email which was 99% of my job, the other 1% was rolling out the new network , servers and computer systems.
  6. uberamd macrumors 68030


    May 26, 2009
    Doesn't iChat Server just use XMPP? Thus a jabber client can connect to it no matter what the platform?
  7. pro547 macrumors newbie

    Aug 7, 2006
    Yes any client with XMPP support will connect to iChat server.
  8. dogbait macrumors regular

    Feb 4, 2005
    London, England
    Yep, any XMPP/Jabber client should work with iChat Server. On Windows Spark, Pidgin and Pandion all work very well indeed.

    On Mac there's iChat as well as Adium and Spark which also work.

    For Linux Spark and Pidgin work great.
  9. yegneph thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jun 16, 2009
    Thanks to all.

    Does anyone know if the solution proposed by belvdr will work for calendar sharing? Will the OSX server be able to retrieve calendar information from the two exchange servers; allow users to schedule meetings; and send invitations which the users can import into their entourage/exchange/ical clients?
  10. assembled macrumors regular

    Jan 12, 2009
    use an apple server to act as a gateway between 2 exchange servers to sync calender and free/busy information?

    good luck

    the exchange support built in to snow leopard is for individual authenticated clients, this is not the same as a calender server.

    unless you have a very compelling reason to run a private chat server, use the free public ones such as MSN, Skype, AIM YIM etc

    the telling point in the original post was starting with very broad brief, and then having questions that were quite specific, but inaccurately based.

    To cover the 1st and 2nd goals, I'd suggest an externally hosted service, the 1st one again just needs a file server, maybe one accessed over web-dav... The 4th one is effectively asking how to bypass a university firewall.

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