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Customer Review

on January 30, 2010
I would second David Cotter's positive reviews. I only have a mere 20 years of development experience starting with a NeXT cube I bought back in 1990. Today I work for a 200b financial services company that runs twelve 10.4 Intel XServes. We are very cautious to upgrade as they machines are heavily used for production work in the marketing and reporting arm of the company where we heavily use Perl, AppleScript, shell scripts, Python, etc.. There has been perhaps 1-2 anomalies on individual machines that we had to reboot and do some repairs for - in perhaps 6 years of heavy use. We have hundreds of Windows, Solars and Linux servers, VMs, blades, network servers, you name it. Our 10.4 server reliability compares very well with the rest of our environment.

It was based on this experience I evaluated Snow Leopard Server by creating a Parallels 5 virtual machine on my Mac Pro desktop machine at home. I honestly wasn't sure it would work on a VM but I was running a live wiki/blog/calendar with people live connecting from all over for 2 weeks. There was one crash across a week of work - but I put my workstation running the VM to sleep several times and one of them the server didn't seem to wake up from correctly. That's tough environment for a server. I was very impressed with the improvement in management tools and the wiki is actually much better than the average wiki - my technical team that was testing it gave it rave reviews for usability.

I was so impressed that I decided to buy a Mac Mini Snow Leopard Server for my home. We aren't ready to upgrade at work yet - that will require several months of testing with a set of development servers. But based on my initial experience I would expect the testing to go fairly well.

I'm writing this somewhat preliminary review because that first guy was spewing hatred without any concrete facts and that's just rude. The fact is that with running a web server, blogs, e-mail, dns, open directory, file shares, etc. is very complex. Unlike reviews of simple products which might approach objectivity in some sense, complex products like server software can't be reviewed in an objective way. Reviews of OS X Server are going to be about how combining one particular guy with OS X Server for a while worked out. Apparently not very well for that first reviewer. My experience has been overall very good. Could be that the first guy is dumber than David Cotter or I, but it's probably because the kinds of things he was trying to do were not working out for him and the solutions were painful to find, if he could find them at all.

I understand this. Apple does not invest in the enterprise at all. The problems I've had with OS X Server are probably more difficult to resolve than on other platforms because of Apple's lack of interest, and the fact that far fewer people travel the OS X Server path. This results in far fewer hits in Google on your problem than you would expect with a Windows Server problem - tons of people have problems on Windows servers.

So here's my recommendation. If you are a computer novice that barely knows how to click a mouse but for some reason wants to set up a web server or wiki for your little company - OS X Server is DEFINITELY for you. It's actually ridiculously easy to set up most of the server features and if they work, which is likely, you are going to be very happy.

If you're moderately technical: 2-10 years of experience working with server technologies, or have a lot of experience but you just aren't that good, then you probably want to use a Windows server technology. You'll have lots of support, lots of stuff on the web, a broad range of software solutions, and there is a contractor around every corner that can help you out.

If you have a ton of experience and the most daunting technical problems don't really phase you any more (they might take days to fix, but they don't phase you), then I think you will really like OS X Server. You're going to need all that experience because Apple, or the few other OS X Server users out there, are not going to be able to back you up much. If you combine this experience with the right kind of use then OS X Server is a joy to use and is highly recommended. Hope that helps.
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