Apple Snow Leopard Server Review

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Among a number of feature upgrades, content producers will enjoy the ability to serve up podcasts and Wikis more easily with the server version of Apple’s latest OS.

It was easy to miss the release of the server version of Apple’s Snow Leopard amid all the hoopla over the client version, but Mac OS X Server Snow Leopard deserves attention.

While the client release of Snow Leopard was primarily a 64-bit engineering refresh (see my review here), Snow Leopard Server is focused on features. IT managers should put Snow Leopard Server on their short-term evaluation list when considering system updates in creative departments where Mac systems predominate.

Snow Leopard Server started shipping on Aug. 28 and costs $499 (£399) with unlimited client licenses. It is licensed to run only on Mac hardware. For my tests, I used a newly minted Xserve running two quad-core Intel Xeon 5540 processors and 6GB of RAM. I also tested the OS on an older Intel Xeon-based Mac Pro.

Snow Leopard Server could be considered for general enterprise deployment, but its built-in creative and communications functions make the operating system best suited for deployment where high-value content is produced.

Nowhere is this more apparent than in the second-generation enhancements I saw in the Podcast Producer, Wiki and Mobile Access components included with Snow Leopard Server.

Podcast Producer Tested

The Podcast Producer 2 workflow in Snow Leopard Server is presented in a seven-step process that takes much of the complex, command-line work out of creating and publishing podcasts. My work with Podcast Producer 2 showed that even an IT person without much experience with technical creative applications can get the workflow set up and working correctly the first time through the system’s wizard.

Also new in Podcast Producer 2 is the ability to use dual inputs, combining camera and screen content.

I used a MacBook Pro running the client version of Snow Leopard to easily create podcasts using the included Podcast Capture utility. Using screen capture and the computer’s camera was a surprisingly simple operation. Podcast Capture on my MacBook then easily found and connected to the Podcast Producer 2 server component.

From start to finish, my first simple podcast was completed in less than 10 minutes. Integrating material from other sources, including Windows-based machines, is possible but not nearly as simple as when I used the MacBook.

Easier Wiki

Wiki Server 2 adds Quick Look and iPhone support to the group collaboration component in Snow Leopard Server. For IT administrators, the full integration of Wiki Server 2 access controls, with an organisation’s existing directory, means reduced maintenance overhead. A single change in the directory will enable and deny users access to the wiki platform when they come into and leave an organisation, respectively.