When Apple recently announced that shut down macOS Server, this move did not come as a big surprise. Apple has been withdrawing and removing its core services for a while and moving others – such as the caching service – to macOS itself.
But let’s take some time to say goodbye and think about what we will do without him.
MacOS Server has a long and rich history. It predates Mac OS X by one year, initially launching in 1999. One of its main features was Open Directory, which launched on Mac OS X Panther Server. This was Apple’s response to Microsoft’s Active Directory and was a powerful solution for managing Macs, user accounts, and any Mac settings associated with it. It also integrates well with Active Directory, making it a solution for mixed Mac and Windows environments.
Open Directory was one of the latest services on macOS Server.
At one point, this was a complete solution – especially for small and medium-sized organizations – since the release of Leopard Server in 2007, which included a simplified setup option. In fact, as Apple killed several enterprise hardware products (xServe and xServe RAID), the focus of macOS Server shifted from a large enterprise product to a product that better serves small businesses centered around a Mac mini server (although any Mac can start macOS server).
While lower-end Macs as servers could reliably power smaller organizations, their hardware limits their use in large enterprises. Mac Pro was the only remaining Apple product capable of functioning as a true enterprise server.
What’s left to stand
After Apple removed almost all features of macOS Server in 2018 and offered some alternatives for organizations that are still based around it (most of these options were open source versions that Apple built into macOS Server), very little remained of the main product. The only services still available were Open Directory and Profile Manager. And Profile Manager was Apple’s lightweight device management console, which was more limited than competing enterprise mobility management (EMM) solutions.
Although macOS Server is no longer available through the Mac App Store, the company says existing customers can continue to use it if they have already installed it. While this discount may be useful in the short term for Mac-based or Mac-oriented organizations, this is not a signal that macOS Server will continue and users may be happy to continue using it. This is little more than a life raft or a stop gap.
Yes, you can use it, but not forever. You need to find a replacement as soon as possible.
What should you replace macOS Server with?
Because organizations have had four years to migrate most services, ideally to the cloud, the only services that will probably need to be replaced now are Open Directory and Profile Manager.
Your best option for replacing Account Manager is to use a third-party enterprise mobile management (EMM) provider. It is important to note that EMM solutions that can control iOS devices and Apple TV can also control Macs.
For Mac-only or Mac-specific organizations, options include JAMF, Kandji, SimpleMDM, and Addigy.
For small businesses, Apple has created a basic EMM tool known as Apple Business Essentials; it provides cloud management of Apple devices, but is limited to organizations with 500 or fewer employees.
Multiplatform and Windows-based networks should consider EMM tools from the main vendor that is already part of your corporate stack (Microsoft, VMWare, Citrix, Ciso, etc.) or choose another product if it provides features or benefits for the user. experience. I would like to have, but the main supplier does not offer.
Apple Business Manager and Apple School Manager
Apple has some cloud tools for larger businesses in the form of Apple Business Manager and its companion Apple School Manager. Organizations typically use them in conjunction with managed Apple IDs as a user authentication and management solution. You can interact directly with these tools – and in some cases you will need to do just that, depending on your user / device verifier.
Apple Business Manager, for example, can connect to Azure AD. If you use a different cloud-based authentication solution (such as Google Workspace or Okta), you’ll need to see if they can integrate with Apple Business or School Manager. One reason to use a third-party EMM solution is that these tools will typically manage any user / device authentication and access capabilities. and manage and protect Mac and other Apple devices.
Although macOS Server brings some nostalgia to people (including me) who have used it for years, Apple has long indicated that it intends to move out of the data center and focus on cloud services. The good news, though, is that you have many options, even if your organization is still built around macOS Server.
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