I loved watching The Wonder Twins as a kid. Somehow, two ordinary heroes would use their special powers to achieve crazy cool results. Apple and Kerio are two such heroes.
I wanted to follow up our previous post by looking at the mini server landscape, and drawing some conclusions that may help the small business owner make an informed decision when looking to buy their own mini server.
First, let me point you to Daniel Eran Dilger’s latest post at AppleInsider. Please read this. He does a fantastic job painting the picture of cost, features, performance and overall value in the mini server marketplace. He also points out all of the limitations of Microsoft’s Small Biz Server. Something Snow Leopard Server does not have.
Dan is right, as usual, except for one line (in my opinion). He states about the Mac mini Server, “There’s no missing features, no usage limitations, no client access licensing, and no essential server software that has to be purchased separately.” If you have read my last post, then you know that although Snow Leopard Server excels in an all Mac environment, if you have to include Windows users and mobile devices besides the iPhone, the paradigm breaks down. Kerio MailServer does an excellent job of stepping in as the 2nd Wonder Twin, to make this mini server “Activate”.
I won’t bother to cover all of Snow Leopard Server’s features. Nor will I dive into all the great features of Kerio MailServer. There are plenty of pages dedicated to their superpowers individually. But I do want to look at the combined cost, and ease of use of these two. I mentioned last time that Kerio does add to the cost of the Mac mini Server, but that any self respecting small business person will see the inherent value and shell out the cash. But how much more cash are we talking about? Let’s take a look. Here are the 3 choices compared by Dan Dilger. I’ve split up the cost of the Mac mini and Snow Leopard Server just to compare the hardware and operating system cost more easily.
If you ignore the glaring performance gap in the PC vs. Mac hardware comparison, then you are looking at an extra $300 to $500 investment up front. That’s pretty cheap. If your business needs more than 10 email accounts (let’s say 30), then you will be spending another $400. Still, not much in the scheme of things.
As for ease of use, Kerio does an even better job than Apple, who obviously does a smash up job compared to Microsoft. All of your Kerio MailServer settings are managed in the simple (iTunes like) Kerio Admin Console. A few of the best features are , Open Directory integration, live highlighted text in the log files, and insanely great SPAM controls. Kerio also offers McAfee virus protection as an affordable add-on. (Some Kerio features are setup within WebMail – but it’s still a simple task to undertake, and will allow your staff to share and collaborate more freely)
As you manage your Mac mini Server, you’ll be using either Apple’s Server Admin, or Server Preferences. Here you can see Server Admin in action.
All 3 of these management tools are simple enough for the “tech inclined” business owner to figure out. As with any server, mail or otherwise, there’s a lot of tech under hood, and things can go wrong with a few innocent mouse clicks. If you fear messing something up, then by all means, contact your local Apple Consultants Network member for help. (If you are in the DFW area, by all means, give us a call).
When sticking to 30 users or less, Apple’s Mac mini Server loaded up with Kerio MailServer is an amazingly powerful Wonder Twin for any small business. If you are stuck using an aging Small Business Server from Microsoft, it’s time to yell “Wonder twin powers – Activate”!!