July 25, 2011, 10:43 AM — Mac OS X 10.7 Lion Server adds innovative features and a new low price tag, but cuts in services and the elimination of advanced GUI administration tools may force some enterprise departments to think twice about the role of Mac servers on their networks.
Some of the new features will please managers in business and education: The Profile Manager, a slick new Web-front-end tool for providing automatic push configuration and group policy management for Mac Lion and iOS clients, is miles ahead of Mac OS X Snow Leopard Server's old Managed Preferences features. Then there's built-in support for Microsoft's distributed file system (DFS) and Apple's Xsan file system, the latter for accessing storage-attached networking (SAN) over Fibre Channel.
[ Mac OS X Lion on the desktop: 6 letdowns and 20 great new features. | For all the key details on Lion, check out John Rizzo's book "Mac OS X Lion Server for Dummies," as well as "Mac OS X Lion Bible," by InfoWorld's Galen Gruman. | Keep up on Mac OS X and Apple developments with our Technology: Apple newsletter. ]
But once the initial excitement subsides and you start looking more deeply inside Lion Server, it's impossible to avoid the conclusion that Lion Server is not built for those of us in IT.
The $50 price tag -- down from $500 -- is the first clue that Lion Server trying to be a server for the consumer. Apple's slogan is "servers made easy." To that end, a new administration tool, called Server, is more logical and easier to use than the old Server Preferences that it replaced. And Server can do more than Server Preferences could.
But the ironic part for IT administrators is that Lion Server actually requires a greater degree of technical knowledge than its predecessors. Many routine tasks that were formerly a mouse click away now can be accomplished only via the Unix shell command line. Worse yet, some routine tasks are no long possible at all.