2359 Views 8 Replies Latest reply: Nov 10, 2005 7:28 PM by Jeff Kelleher
I would consider myself a Mac OS X Server expert (not at all compared to other residents of this discussion web site, however) but I know very little about Windows Server. So I can't objectively compare & contrast the two.
What I can do, though, is outline a few reasons why I love OS X Server.
- Stable & Reliable. I can't say I have even had one close call regarding losing data or having to reformat due to any reason other than anything caused by my unbridled meddling with system files which I should be... (One caveat in my opinion though is upgrading between versions--make sure you always backup before doing so)
- Simple & Straightforward administration. The administration in OS X Server is pretty much a breeze. And it is straightforward because, for the most part, everything is where it seems logically that it should be. This is unlike Windows where you'll find that not everything is laid out in a fluid or logical manner.
- Easy setup. Depending on what you're planning on doing, setup can be incredibly simple. I personally can setup a server from scratch in less than 10 minutes after running through the setup assistant.
- Features. Like I said, I'm not a Windows expert and haven't researched for this, but I think I can safely say that the features in OS X are pretty well unmatched by Windows--as far as being pre-installed and ready-to-go. This includes the Application Server, Web Log Server, iChat Server, DNS, DHCP, Firewall, NAT, NetBoot, NFS, Open Directory, QuickTime Streaming, VPN, Software Update Server......... et. al.
- Scalable. You can fairly easily plug in additional servers into a central Open Directory on one server.
- Kerberos and OpenLDAP (as opposed to Active Directory in Windows).
- Apple Discussions provide for a great community and support resource
If any part of this is inaccurate please correct me.
I have actually written an article comparing & contrasting the two clients (Mac vs. Windows) which you can read here: http://www.difinitymedia.com/~bsmith/article.php?story=20051108221953262
Hope this helps!
I'm not a "server expert," but I can offer an anecdotal tidbit that applies....
I was recently at my father's house to help him put together a video slideshow of some pictures he had scanned and stored on his PC running XP. He has a wireless network, but has never set up any kind of file sharing, etc., and he doesn't have anything like an external drive to use to transfer stuff.
I figured I would take the iBook with me to his house, transfer the pics over the network, then work on them in iPhoto to create a slideshow. No problem.
When I arrived at his house, I had the iBook on the network and "Sharing" enabled in about 30 seconds. It took me 30 minutes to get the PC to "see" the iBook and mount a folder for transferring the pics. End of story.
If you take this example of how a Mac (vs. a PC) handles networking and apply it to how a server will operate and can be administered, you can easily see how less time and effort might be wasted on a Mac.
In my company I would be one of the management people you would be trying to convince. I am an avid Mac and Apple fan and have been since the IIe (by the way my father still uses the IIe to play chess to give you an idea of how reliable these things are). That said, if any one of my 35 staff came to me with the same request, they would have a very hard time convincing me to accept. I would need to have a very specific reason. Here's why:
Staffing: If I have even one OS X box, I will also need to ensure that I have at least two IT professionals capable of maintaining the machine. Either I hire two or train two existing; either way this will cost me, and my goal is to reduce expensive IT staff. I also want to be able to find replacement staff fast if someone leaves. I can find a good/cheap Windows Server expert in about one day. I cannot say the same for Apple.
Durability: I don't care about durability. We lease our machines over a three-year period, which means that there is no business case for me to keep the things any longer. In fact, it would cost me money if I had a machine that I kept over three years.
Complexity: Adding something else on my net (be it an OS X server or a new type of firewall or anything that communicates) adds complexity. Complexity adds risk. Any manager will look at risk with a negative eye and will require you to prove that adding the Mac will not interfere with anything else currently running and that the added risk is outweighed by the financial gain from the additional functionality.
System reliability: We declare close to 100 per cent uptime for all services to corporate management. The Mac being more reliable will therefore never be a good argument for the business people with the budget control, because they cannot see the benefits of negligible improvements in total system uptime given the added costs.
Procedures and documentation: All our IT documentation is geared toward Windows (Security, upgrade procedures, user management). Adding one Mac machine would require all this documentation to be rewritten, at a major cost.
End-user training: If adding the Mac changes one single thing for the company's end users, then we have costly global training issues. You must assume that everyone that is not a Mac fan will be loath to attempt to do something that is not Windows-like. Even if it is better, faster, more reliable; they don't care. If it's different, your end users will fight it.
Compatibility: If my Windows machines have problems connecting to the Mac server then it is the Mac's fault. Even if you can technically prove that the problem comes from instability with the Windows OS, blah blah blah. This won't fly in the corporate world. In a Windows environment, a user that cannot connect to the Mac server will blame the Mac server, and management will agree. End of story.
Security: Adding one OS X machine will not eliminate the other 120 Windows servers or several thousand PCs, so I am not going to change one iota of the IT security policy. The complex and costly antivirus and firewall systems will have to stay. So I get no increased security from adding an OS X machine. Even worse, I will need to find another anti virus solution that works for this machine and that meets corporate policy (and don't even try to say that OS X doesn't need antivirus).
All this means that if you came to me to with the idea that an OSX box on the net would be a great file server (reliable, secure, easy to install, etc.) you would have zero chance.
If you came to me with a specific need for which OS X would be the most cost effective solution, I would be willing to listen. Example: Someone from business requests that we have an in-house managed, secure video conferencing utility. I would gladly look at iChat Server as an excellent contender.
My suggestion to you then is to find the niche where OS X would be ideal and then prove your case from a cost point of view.
With all due respect it sounds like your situation is that of a production environment that is already far along and dependent on your Windows network.
I don't believe Patrick's question was regarding a total conversion; rather it was more a question of exploring the possibilies of using either or as a new homogenous setup.
Surely arguing the benefits of total conversion from Windows to Mac on a very large, mature network would be silly from a financial standpoint...
At least that was my take...
Wel, if you could describe your network, we - or someone - can make a case (or not) for a Mac server. For instance, if you have 5 Windows servers, 100 Windows clients, and 5 mac clients, you're sunk. If you have one Windows server, and a few PC and Mac clients, that's a different story. It also depends on the willingness of users to deal with a new server. If everyone knows how it works, you'll have to show them something new. Some folks may love the idea, some folks never want anything to change.
Actually, we don't have any Windows server running that serves the Mac machines, on the other hand we do have one Windows server 2003 up for ripping our files (art) to a CTP (Plate setter).
We have around 20 Mac machines which are connected to an old OS 9 AppleShareIP machine and also are hooked up to a G4 FileMaker Pro Server. We have 3 Windows PCs but they don't really have to be using File Services...
The reason for this question is of course price and why we need this Apple Server and why we can't use a Windows server...
Thanks already for all these great replies!
The OS X server will be able to easily manage user home directories on the server, and users can create a custom experience on any Mac client, so long as they are OS X clients. You can also manage/control the user experience via the server - auto mounted shares and controlling what apps users can use, for example. As far as cost goes, a fairly beefy 2003 server will be no cheaper than an OS X server. The PC's can easily access the OS X server, and through the AD plugin (part of the standard OS X Server install) they too can have home dir's on the OS X server.