This combination of attributes will make AquaConnect attractive to a number of organizations. It will be useful to those who are looking at options for cost-cutting or maintaining an existing Mac or dual-platform environment. It will be equally helpful to those who are just beginning to consider an investment in Mac OS X. In fact, Mac administrators considering AquaConnect will find themselves with many of the same opportunities and decisions that administrators considering Windows Terminal Services and Citrix have had for years.
On the other hand, it does show that AquaConnect is a relatively new product. From the lack of Leopard support, to the reliance on VNC, to the occasional interface elements where I've found myself saying something like "This isn't particularly intuitive, but...," it's clear that AquaConnect is still finding its footing in several respects. Probably the single biggest drawback to the product is potential access by non-admin users to features that one would prefer non-admin users not even see, including items like sleep, shut down and restart, even if a third-party product can be used to mitigate the issue.
To me, this doesn't readily rule the product out as a solution, but it does mean that implementing it should involve a good deal of planning and testing before use in a production environment. Many administrators, however, while impressed with AquaConnect as a whole, will probably find the best option to be to wait and see what the company does next rather to invest that effort at this time. If AquaConnect's forthcoming release demonstrates the same ingenuity of its initial offering, it will emerge as a serious option for most of those administrators.
Additional information on AquaConnect and registration for a free trial is available from the company's Web site. Slides from a MacEnterprise.org webcast, with additional technical details, are also available.
Ryan Faas is a freelance writer and technology consultant specializing in Mac and multiplatform network issues. In addition to writing for Computerworld, he is a frequent contributor to InformIT.com. Ryan was also the co-author of O'Reilly's Essential Mac OS X Panther Server Administration. You can find more information about Ryan, his consulting services and his recently published work at www.ryanfaas.com and can e-mail him at email@example.com.