Apple Owes the Enterprise a Better Client - Page 2

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3. Better integration with Active Directory
Panther made strides in integrating Macs with Microsoft Active Directory, but there are still holes, particularly with secure authentication methods. Panthers LDAP authentication uses a Kerberos implementation that is not as secure as that between Windows clients and Active Directory, or that created by Thursby Softwares AdmitMac. It also does not support NTLMv2.

Active Directory configuration of Macs can also be a chore. Its easiest with a Mac OS X Server on the network. Without it, the procedures can require special training of network managers.

4. SMB home directories working with Windows domains
Support of home folders located on SMB servers is a feature that Apple claims is already in Panther. Apple has also promised that SMB home folders will be a new feature in Tiger. So which is it?

The answer is that there is limited support in Panther. You can do it fairly easily if there is a Mac OS X Server on the network, but the procedure isnt easy without a Mac server. It requires rather obscure changes using NetInfo Manager or using commands run from a shell in Terminal.

5. Access Control Lists
Sites that do run Mac servers need ACL (Access Control Lists) support in Mac OS X Server. ACLs are an important feature of Windows Servers that gives administrators and users far more flexible file permissions than the simple read-write-execute of Mac OS X.

For example, ACLs would let Mac server managers specify user and group permissions for creating and modifying files and folders as well as for accessing network services. Windows servers and Unix servers such as Sun Solaris have supported ACLs for years.

Apple has promised ACL support for Tiger Server, but the question remains whether Tiger Servers ACL implementation will work in a cross-platform environment. That is, will Mac clients be controlled by ACLs on Windows servers? They will need to be.

So far, Apple has been focusing on server dreams—and big ones at that. For instance, part of Apples promotion of Xserve and Xsan calls attention to the use of Xserve clusters in multimillion-dollar super-computer arrays rather than the enterprise use of clusters. As much as Apple would like to fill $3 million Xserve orders, it probably isnt going to happen very often.

Enterprise managers will be waiting for client improvements at Macworld Expo in San Francisco next week. I dont expect Steve Jobs to trumpet MAPI, NTLMv2, and ACL in between flash-based iPods and headless iMacs, but compatibility announcements will be important for that 75 percent of Apples revenue.

John Rizzo is the publisher of the MacWindows Web site.


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