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What are some good resources about running a small office (25 or so computers) with Mac computers only (though perhaps with a Windows or Linux/Unix file server)?

In other words, what information and options are available that would help understand how to standardize and maintain a number of Mac clients in an office?

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I am converting this to a Community Wiki because it is impossible for this to have one 'correct' answer. –  Nathan Greenstein Apr 21 '11 at 16:20
    
@Nathan: Good idea - Thanks! –  Brian M. Hunt Apr 21 '11 at 16:28
    
Is there any particular focus for this office? ARD is pretty sweet for installing apps all at once or reporting on hardware across the office, something like a mac mini server would be nice for collab/groupware stuff, though you could set it up on the linux server side, usage of bonjour enabled tools aka ichat for quick file sharing, and various other things. If it is all standardization of resources or compliance there are also remote management softwares out there to check for file system changes and the like, but I forget off the top of my head –  hobs Apr 21 '11 at 21:10
    
@hobs thanks for the comment. It's a paper-pushing office, with basic needs: file sharing and contact sharing. MS Office will probably be used for document creation, and virtualisation (VM Ware or Parallels) to run e.g. Wordperfect and other legacy apps. (Speaking of legacy: We still have, and use, a typewriter ...) –  Brian M. Hunt Apr 21 '11 at 21:36

1 Answer 1

If you are in a basic office scenario, I dont think you would need much beyond a good setup and deployment of Apple Remote Desktop, and a proper application of Google Apps for your Business.

Apple has plenty of reading material on ARD, and most of it is actually useful, for instance, the ARD 3.1 Admin Guide talks about performing basic maintenance remotely and automatically, describes how to create reports, install applications, the whole nine yards.

On to the Google section, and there are two big pieces that I would recommend:

Why Google Docs?

  • Easily share documents, though for super quick stuff I recommend iChat
  • track revisions
  • collab editing
  • offsite storage
  • get free stuff like the GAS

Why Gmail?

  • The insane storage
  • spam protection
  • letting google handle all the email crap (99.9% SLA aka 8 hours of downtime a year)
  • the centralized control of groups and shared contacts
  • all which sync with mail.app and your address book.

You also get a plethora of other Google products for your business like Google Groups and Google Video, but I dont think those would be that useful in the organization you mentioned.

I could go on, but it is a great small business package, and it is cheap as dirt (50$ per user per year). The biggest cost I find with Google Apps is some user adoption work (though Google makes it painless as possible).

You can even sign up for Google Apps for your domain and try out 50 users at a time, or go with the 30 day free trial of Google Apps for your business (different, better, the one you actually want), that way you don't have to make a big purchase, and still see if your users would be amicable to the change.

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Gmail is certainly neat but mostly for its web access: the storage offered isn't that "insane" any more. At ~10GB/user, with 25 users, you're talking ~250GB for the office. There's not many spinning-metal disks that small still, and even SSDs that size are quite affordable. –  Ken Oct 12 '12 at 0:12

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