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Bring your Mac to work day!

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I love this news story about Kraft Foods and their new “Bring Your Own Computer” to work program. Essentially, if you have a qualifying Mac or PC, and you prefer it over your work computer, just bring it on up and use it instead. Appleinsider reported on this Friday.

The silver lining is that you can bring your Intel Mac with Snow Leopard to work, assuming you have one.

You have one, don’t you?

My guess is that a large percentage of corporate employees that are chained to PCs all day, go home to a Mac that they love and adore and wish it could be their everyday computer. But in “corporate america”, the employees don’t make those decisions. In most companies, it’s the CIO or IT Dept that makes policy and enforces the status quo.

Today we are seeing a growing trend where CEOs, CIOs, and CFOs are increasing using a Mac at home, and wishing they could simply bring it to work and plug it right in to the mix. More and more, small and medium sized businesses that have been wholey based on WIndows are switching over to the Mac and loving it. They still have some PCs, and often a Windows server, but it all plays nicely together.  The great news is that it’s pretty easy to integrate Macs into your existing Windows based network. We’ve been doing it a long time, and we can say with confidence that a mixed platform Utopia can exist.

Sure, there are challenges, like home folders for all, and cross-platform printer support, and even Active Directory Group Policy support for the Mac. But it can all be done.  If you are wanting to push forward into a bright future of PCs and Macs playing happily together, give us a call. We would love to help you find the solution that best fits your company’s goals and personality. That’s what we do.

I Can Do Anything

I Can Do Anything © 2008 Apple Inc.

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Mac OS X Server 10.6 Certified

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Yes, we are very personable IT guys.  And yes, we pride ourselves in looking just a little bit cooler than your average computer geek.  But we also like to stay on top of our game, and make sure our skills exceed your expectations every time.

To that end, I thought I’d mention that we are now Apple Certified in the latest Snow Leopard certifications. These are just little badges of honor that tell you that we know what we are doing. The Apple Certified Support Professional, and Apple Certified Technical Coordinator mean that we have the skills not only on the client side of things, but are totally proficient on the Server side of things.

Snow Leopard Server is easier in some ways, but is more complex in other ways.  So if you are needing help with your Tiger, Leopard or Snow Leopard server, I think you’ll be glad you called us first.

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Wonder Twin Powers Activate

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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.

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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)

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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.

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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”!!

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Mac mini Server or Kerio Mail Server?

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Mac Geeks rejoice!  Apple has finally released the Mac mini with Snow Leopard Server preinstalled.  Our prayers have been answered  Or have they?

First, let me say that I love the new Mac mini Server from Apple. With (2) 500 GB hard drives, albeit slower 5400 rpm drives, and what is arguably the easiest Server Platform to setup and use, all for a “Cleveland”. (The president on the old $1000 bill). What’s not to love?

I guess if Snow Leopard Server actually delivered on the hype, then I would love it, but there are few shortcomings that make me want to kick somebody over at Apple.  Yes, you can setup your own Snow Leopard Server at home or your small business. It’s not too hard to do if you don’t mind reading a few PDF manuals along the way.  I don’t dispute the value of the Mini Server, but will you get what you where hoping for?

For me, it’s all about collaboration.  Apple is pushing Snow Leopard Server as a collaborative Hub where your files, email, calendar data and address book can live and be seamlessly synced to your Mac, your iPhone and your PC.

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Sounds great, but you might be sad to learn that you’ll still need to connect your iPhone to your Mac or PC to sync contacts since their Address Book Server does not provide over-the-air syncing to the iPhone. Address Book Server also does not allow you to share your contacts with other users on the server. You might also become a bit more sad to find out that your Windows users will need to find, and install a decent “CardDAV” client for their Address Book Server connection. They also will not be able to use their iCal Server calendar without finding and installing a CalDAV calendar client too. Oh, and when you setup Mail and Calendar access on your iPhone, you’ll have to setup those up as separate items. No all-in-one ActiveSync support here. I still don’t understand why Apple has not added a Snow Leopard Server account type for the iPhone yet?

Unified messaging is starting to unravel.

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So what would I do?  That’s simple.  Just install Kerio MailServer, and your done.  I would use all of the services in Snow Leopard Server that I could, without Mail, Calendar and Address Book Server. Go ahead and fire up File Sharing, Wiki Pages, Time Machine backups (just for Macs) and make the most of it.  But…..

Once you experience the sweet, sweet love that Kerio dishes out, you’ll agree.  It actually delivers on ease of use, true collaboration, and cross platform support. Here’s what I see when I look at Apple’s new Mac Mini Server.

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Does this add to the cost?  Yes it does.  But it delivers.  You are saving so much cash on a decent mini server with an unlimited version of Apple’s flagship server OS, that I think you can afford to invest in your small business just a little.

So if the question is “Mac mini Server or Kerio Mail Server?” I’ll take both.

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