Why You Need a Lion Server - dummies

By John Rizzo

For a small network, Lion Server will serve your PCs and your Macs, too. On a large network, Mac OS X will peacefully coexist with Windows servers, serving your Macs like no Windows server can.

The Lion Server price is right

Windows and Linux servers can scale up to some very large networks, which Mac OS X Server isn’t designed to do. But Windows servers can cost thousands of dollars more than Lion Server, and Linux costs you in terms of technical expertise.

Windows server versus Lion Server

Mac OS X Server is inexpensive compared to Windows servers. Microsoft has a complicated pricing model with different configurations with multiple options. Lion Server comes in one version, with no restrictions on the number of clients.

Microsoft Windows servers not only start out at higher price points, but there’s also a charge for the number of clients you have on the network. If you want to add more computers to your network, you have to write another check to Microsoft. With Mac OS X Server, there’s no per-client fee. Add as many Macs, PCs, or Linux machines as the server hardware can handle.

Linux versus Lion Server

A Linux server can be less expensive than Lion Server, depending on which company you get it from. But it may or may not come with the full suite of services found in Mac OS X Server. Add to that the cost of the time spent adding all the services to a Linux server and configuring it or paying someone else to do it, and you’ll find that Lion Server is still a bargain.

Better service for Mac clients

Lion Server supports Mac clients better than any other server. For example, Lion Server offers services specifically for the Apple software on your users’ Macs, including Address Book and iCal. Lion Server turns these apps into groupware apps and works more smoothly for the user and the administrator than other servers and Mac clients. A server version of the Mac’s Spotlight makes searching the server quick and easy.

But even for generic services, such as file sharing, Mac OS X Server serves Mac clients better than other servers. The Mac OS X Server supports any filename that the Mac supports, and it doesn’t split files into two parts or leave small, empty files on the server, which are problems that can occur when Mac clients access Windows and Linux servers.

Lion Server supports iPads and iPhones

Lion Server supports iOS devices — iPads, iPhones, and iPod touches — in several ways. Lion Server is the first software to provide centralized file sharing for iPads. It also provides a simple way to configure and manage iOS devices and Mac clients running Mac OS X 10.7. This includes configuring network settings setting password restrictions, as well as setting up user accounts for mail, calendar, contacts, and chat.

You can also use Lion Server to integrate devices into your network directory, as well as to define management policies for iOS devices (as you can for computers, users, and groups).

Lion Server can “push” configuration changes out to the devices using Apple Push Notification services, which you can also use to push calendar invitations and events. And the Server also optimizes wikis and blogs for viewing on iOS devices.