Tech Posts

First Experience with a Mac OS X Server

Our school is going to start a BYOD programme in 2014. In 2013 the goal is to get an iPad into the hands of every teacher in the school and to provide them with training. This will allow us, I hope, to move more easily than some schools have done into a scenario where each pupil has some form of device in front of them.

In addition, other schools within our group have already got MacBooks and iPads but have been managing them the hard way. With the Mac OS X Server, we hope to be able to manage them a little easier.

The configuration of the Server App is trivial and, given that it’s sitting in a Windows environment, did not need things like DHCP and DNS services configured. The most complicated part about setting it up was providing the Windows DNS entry for the Mac box.

Initial experiments with it are promising in terms of deploying policies and apps to iPads. I can see that the initial setup might be tedious (each device has to be enrolled manually). Once that is done, however, it looks simple enough to push apps to the devices.

We also plan, in one school, to configure each iPad with its own e-mail address so that pupils can e-mail work done to their teachers. The Profile Manager seems to be able to take care of this step – but initial setup might be boring.

One problem I am predicting is the distribution of content (e.g. ePubs to iBooks, and so on). The Profile Manager does not cater for this scenario and I’m not entirely sure how to get around it. E-mail is a possible work around, but could be tedious.

Another school has a fleet of MacBooks and is excited to use the Update Service provided within Server. This is the Mac answer to WSUS, but does not do any App Store purchase updates. This is somewhat problematic for the likes of iBooks Author which is huge and coming down to a school with very poor bandwidth. I’m still not sure how to solve that problem.

One other thing that I’m quite excited to try is the printing solution so that we can print from iPads. We make use of PaperCut and they have a working solution to printing and authenticating from an iPad.

Stay tuned for updates.