A few minutes after we heard about all of the new product announcements this morning, this email came in from TUAW reader Daniel:
Why, of course we can, Daniel! That's why we're here.Can you god blessed brains explain in some easy-to-understand way what are the possibilities for a Mac mini server for us non-tech brained mortals?
I have personally used Mac minis as servers since shortly after the first G4 models came out on the market. In fact, at one point I personally had two of them at Macminicolo.net, a wonderful little company that was founded on the belief that Mac minis were great servers. I've installed at least a dozen for clients, and they are excellent for small businesses for the following reasons:
They're inexpensive. When you start looking at an Xserve, you want to start looking at mass storage and tape libraries as well. Pretty soon, the cost of a fully-loaded Xserve starts looking astronomical to a small business. That's not to say that Xserves don't have their place -- in fact, I have had two of my clients start with Mac minis and then move to Xserves when they found that they were outgrowing the mini servers. With the new $999 price point for a mini with an unlimited Mac OS X Server 10.6 license, two built-in 500 GB drives, and 4 GB of RAM, almost anybody can afford to own a server that provides email, instant messaging, calendaring, a wiki, podcast production, and more to a small workgroup.
They make it simple. The advantage of Mac OS X Server's software suite is power with a pretty face; it exposes the UNIX power of Mac OS X (including the industry-standard Apache, PHP, Samba and Jabber/XMPP stacks) with the relative ease of the Mac. While you can certainly roll your own server setup using conventional Mac OS X (either using Apple's shipped versions of Apache & PHP, or bumping them up), having the server administration tools makes everything a lot nicer. What's more, the standalone unlimited-license version of Server is a full $499, making this a straightforward bargain.