AquaConnect helps Macs, others share desktop apps

By Ryan Faas, Computerworld |  Hardware, AquaConnect, Servers

Connecting Macs to a Windows environment has had its place, particularly as a means of providing access to Windows software before Apple's transition to Intel processors. But nobody before AquaConnect has provided a way to deploy Mac applications via a terminal server or provided access to the Mac OS X environment from an alternate platform.

AquaConnect now brings those capabilities to Mac OS X Server. Administrators can install AquaConnect on a Mac OS X Server machine, load up all the applications that they want Mac or PC clients to access, and then make those available over the network.

This setup presents a whole host of new options for Mac network environments. In addition to allowing for easy software deployment, the ability to connect from virtually any computing platform provides a powerful option for making any number of current Mac OS X applications available to users with a limited investment. In other words, users need not update their Mac hardware or switch to the Mac platform from existing PCs to be able to access the new Mac applications.

Some background details and notes on future plans
Now that we've covered what AquaConnect is, let's move on to some basic information about how it works. AquaConnect installs as terminal server components built for Mac OS X Tiger Server. At present, Leopard Server isn't supported because of a number of changes to the Mac OS X Server frameworks in Leopard and Leopard Server, but AquaConnect is working on Leopard Server compatibility in a upcoming release that is also expected to feature additional enhancements that will be noted throughout this review.

Currently, clients connect to an AquaConnect server using the RFB protocol through a VNC ( Virtual Network Computing ) client. Any VNC viewer can be used, including the open-source Chicken of the VNC for Mac OS X and RealVNC for Windows. Client access from other platforms, including mobile devices and Java- or Web-based VNC viewers, is also supported, though screen dimensions and access speeds can be issues on mobile devices.

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