When Apple recently announced that it was shutting down the MacOS server, the move came as a huge surprise. Apple is temporarily devaluing and removing its core services, and moving others – such as caching services – to MacOS.
But let’s take a moment to say goodbye and think about what we can do without it.
MacOS servers have a long and multifaceted history. It dates back to Mac OS X a year ago, initially launched in 1999. One of its key features was the Open Directory, which was launched on the Mac OS X Panther server. It was Apple’s answer to Microsoft’s Active Directory and was a powerful solution for managing Mac, user accounts and any Mac settings associated with it. It integrates seamlessly with Active Directory, making it a solution for mixed Mac and Windows environments.
Open Directory is one of the latest services on MacOS servers.
At one point, it was a complete solution – especially for small and medium-sized companies – after the release of Leopard Server in 2007, which included a simplified setup option. In fact, as Apple discontinued a number of enterprise hardware products (xServe and xServe RAID), the focus of the macOS server shifted from a product to a large enterprise to one that provides better services to small businesses centered on a Mac mini server (although that Any Mac can (run MacOS server).
While low-end Macs as servers can reliably power smaller companies, their hardware limits their use in large businesses. The Mac Pro was the only remaining Apple product capable of functioning as a true enterprise server.
What was standing
After Apple removed almost all macOS server features in 2018 and suggested some options for companies still based around it (most of these options were open-source versions Apple made on MacOS servers), there was hardly any original product left. Open Directory and Profile Manager was the only service. And Profile Manager was a lightweight Apple Device Manager console that was more limited than the Competitive Enterprise Mobility Management (EMM) solution.
Although the Max server is no longer available through the Mac App Store, the company says that existing customers can continue to use it if they already have it installed. While this discount may be helpful in the short term for Mac-based or Mac-centric companies, it is not an indication that the Max server will continue and users will be able to use it happily. This is a little more than a life raft or stop gap.
Yes, you can use it, but not forever. You need to find a replacement as soon as possible.
What should replace your MacOS server?
Since companies have four years to move most services, ideally in the cloud, the only services that probably need to be replaced now are Open Directory and Profile Manager.
Your best option for replacing Profile Manager is to use a third party Enterprise Mobile Management (EMM) vendor. It’s important to note that EMM solutions can handle iOS devices as well as Apple TVs and Macs.
For Mac or Mac-specific companies only, the options include JAMF, Kandji, SimpleMDM, and Addigy.
For small businesses, Apple has developed a base EMM tool called Apple Business Essentials; It provides cloud-based Apple device management, but is limited to companies with 500 or fewer employees.
EMM tools from early vendors of multi-platform and Windows-based networks should be considered if you already have a portion of your enterprise stack (Microsoft, VMWare, Citrix, Ciso, etc.) or any other product if it benefits you feature or user experience Want to get but the initial seller does not offer.
Apple Business Manager and Apple School Manager
Apple has some cloud-based tools for big business in the form of Apple Business Manager and its associate Apple School Manager. Companies typically use it in conjunction with managed Apple IDs as an authentication and user-management solution. You can interact directly with these tools – and in some cases, you need to do just that, depending on your user / device authentication.
Apple Business Manager, for example, can link to Azure AD. If you use a different cloud-based authentication solution (such as Google Workspace or Okta), you need to check if they can be integrated with Apple Business or School Manager. One reason to use third party EMM solutions is that these tools will typically handle any user / device authentication and access capabilities. And Manage and secure Mac and other Apple devices.
While the MacOS server carries some nostalgia for people (including me) who have used it for years, Apple has long made it clear that it wants to move from the data center to the cloud service. The good news, though, is that you have plenty of options, even if your company is still built around a MacOS server.
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