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Apple to Deprecate Many macOS Server Services

Apple has posted a support note titled “Prepare for changes to macOS Server,” and boy are they not kidding about big changes coming. In an update to macOS Server due in “spring 2018,” Apple will deprecate ten services by hiding them on new installations. If you’ve already configured one of the deprecated services, you’ll be able to keep using it in that update.

In a future release of macOS Server, Apple will go further and remove the deprecated services entirely. The writing is on the wall — it’s time to start researching alternatives.

The deprecated services are:

  • Calendar
  • Contacts
  • DHCP
  • DNS
  • Mail
  • Messages
  • NetInstall
  • VPN
  • Websites
  • Wiki

For each, Apple’s support note links to alternatives, although I’m sure the Mac admin community will have additional suggestions and thoughts. If you’re not already in one of these groups, I recommend the MacEnterprise mailing list and the MacAdmins Slack team.

If I’m diffing correctly, the services that will remain in macOS Server include these three (Apple didn’t call out Software Update for elimination, but it’s already hidden, so it seems destined for the chopping block as well):

  • Open Directory
  • Profile Manager
  • Xsan

That list is in line with Apple’s statement that “macOS Server is changing to focus more on management of computers, devices, and storage on your network.”

Over at Krypted, Charles Edge has been maintaining a page that tracks the ebb and flow of services in Server over time. The number peaked quite a few revisions ago and has been dropping ever since. In part, that’s because Apple has moved a few services into macOS for all to use, notably Content Caching and Time Machine Server.

Because of Apple’s obvious lack of interest in macOS Server in recent years, few people are surprised by Apple’s announcement. However, many are distressed by it because it sends a troubling message to small businesses that have long relied on OS X Server and macOS Server. Consultants and IT admins who recommended, installed, and maintained those macOS Server setups are concerned about having to research, install, and keep up with the wide variety of apps necessary to replace all the capabilities that macOS Server provided in a single coherent package. And of course, even if the alternatives are better technically, moving to them will require non-trivial investments of time and money.

Are you using OS X Server or macOS Server now? What’s your plan for dealing with losing these services? Let us know in the comments.

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