Sunday, July 24, 2011

Apple's Lion Server Takes A Different Turn

Mac Lion ServerSo Mac OS X Lion has just been released and the first app to hit the Lion app store is surprising many users. That app is Mac OS X Lion Server, which will cost you $49, a mere fraction of the $499 price tag that was on Snow Leopard's Server. With that the Mac OS X Server that everybody knew is no more. In addition to that, just to make the deal a little sweeter, Apple is giving you Xsan, the SAN software that the company used to sell for $999. With Mac OS X Lion Server you can turn a Mac Pro with a fiber channel card into a super fast bulletproof distributed storage server for Mac networks.

While you may already be drooling over these kinds of prices, it all seems a little odd, and it raises a few questions. Many critics will undoubtedly point the Lion Server drop in price, the abolishment of node-locked licensing, and simplification of the administrative GUI as a foreshadowing of Apple leaving the server market completely. The price of $49 does not mitigate the risk of implementing a server platform that appears to be in decline.

On the other hand, Lion Server doesn't really resemble a last ditch effort by a dying market. Instead it seems to signal a shift in mission. As opposed to trying to displace enterprises Windows, Linux and Unix servers, Lion Server seems to focus primarily on providing easily managed native network services to work groups of iOS and Mac users. Lion Server's Profile Manager is key to enterprise deployments of iOS devices. Profile Manager has the ability to configure a user-owned device that is connected to a company infrastructure for company services that include ones not hosted by Mac OS X or iCloud.

Mac devices, like iPads or iPhones, that are owned by the company can also be locked down with profiles that apply certain defined groups of users or devices. All you have to do as the user is visit a web portal that Lion has set up and hosted automatically. After the profile is loaded, updates can be pushed to a certain device over the air and so can emergency commands such as remote wipe and password change. And that is only one of the many services offered by Lion Server. $49 equips your network with any combination of file, email, calendar, Web, chat, podcast, VPN, directory or backup services. And you know how committed Apple is to standards, so you can rely on the fact that Lion Server remains a good candidate for everyday use.

Source: InfoWorld - Apple's radical new Mac server strategy

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Friday, July 8, 2011

Microsoft Announces General Availability of SBS Essentials 2011

Windows Small Business Server 2011 EssentialsMicrosoft just recently announced the general availability of Windows Small Business Server 2011 Essentials last week. The server, which was designed to support small businesses with around 25 users, is able to be purchased via Microsoft's volume licensing channels or from original equipment managers and retail outlets. Microsoft's volume licensing customers are also supposed to have had access to Windows SBS 2011 Essentials since May 1.

This announcement claims that most of Microsoft's OEM partners currently offer SBS 2011 Essentials server products. While that may be true, only HP's offering is easy to find at the moment. It's a little confusing because Microsoft provides links to six OEMs on its Windows SBS purchasing options page with most of those links leading to Windows Small Business Server 2011 Standard offerings. Windows Small Business Server 2011 Standard is slightly different in that it supports up to 75 users. Microsoft released SBS 2011 Standard to OEMs as well as volume licensing customers back in March.

Microsoft's announcement did indicate that more OEM server products using SBS 2011 Essentials software will be available "in the next few months". Windows SBS 2011 Essentials is designed to rely on cloud-based services, more so than Windows SBS 2011 Standard that is. One benefit that SBS 2011 Essentials has over SBS 2011 Standard is that no Client Access Licenses are required to use the Essentials version.

Microsoft is planning a means for better integration with Office 365, the latest collection of cloud-based services from Microsoft. This integration will be carried out via a Microsoft connector known as "Office 365 Integration Module for SBS Essentials". Microsoft expects the release of this module sometime this fall.

IT professionals can currently create new users manually in SBS 2011 Essentials as well as Office 365 and they can also use the same alias name in both the premises-based Essentials as well as in the cloud-based Office 365 suite. The integration module will automate porting user aliases created in Essentials into the Office 365 cloud.

More improvements to SMS 2011 Essentials will be coming in the future, either from Microsoft or one of its many partners. Microsoft did state in the announcement that "many more solutions for cloud backup, hosted email integration and online productivity are already on the market or will be available soon."

In addition to that, there is also an experimental connector currently available for Windows 7 users that is able to assist them in remotely monitoring SBS 2011 Essentials servers via their smartphones. It also works with the Windows Home Server 2011 as well as Windows Storage Server 2008 R2 Essentials. The connector is currently available as a release candidate test version and is not recommended by Microsoft for use in production environments.

Source: - Windows SBS 2011 Essentials Released Broadly is news of, for and by SMBs! The Small & Medium Business Magazine!