osx server vs NAS and cloud services

Hi

I have recently been approached by a SMB customer who has a small (11 users) network of OSX based machines with a very old mac mini server (i would expect is a first release).

The use the apple sever for file sharing, directory services, mail etc.

The company has a lot of data stored on the mac mini, are running out of space and complain how slow it is, they also complain that the mail/calendar/contacts services are flaky and problematic. They also complain about the speed of their VPN when working from home (which will be due to their limited upload speed).

I am trying to come up with a solution for them but i mainly deal with Windows servers and networking for enterprise.

I don't know a great deal about apple servers, however after doing research it looks very easy to set up etc, but also when doing research i find a lot of people online comment on the mail setup being flaky etc.

I am wondering if people can give me advice on their experience with this type of set up.

I'm finding it really hard to find much osx server info online, other than it being slated.

Originally i was thinking of implementing cloud based email (they have outlook users) so thought of hosted exchange or office 365 rather than the mac mail server.

Google apps (my usual favorite) is out of the window because there is no google apps sync tool for outlook on the mac, imap is cumbersome and clunky.

I thought we could keep their original mac mini for directory services.

Then i could use a Synology or QNAP NAS device for file shares, cloud backup but most importantly i could use the cloud file sync app for home workers. This would mean they would be accessing the sync'd files locally rather than accessing a server via the VPN.

Obviously i could get a mac mini os x server, install a file syncing cloud app and do the same thing but the performance of the NAS should in theory outperform the mac mini.

I also like the fact the NAS would have hot swap drive bays on the front.

Thanks for any help and advice.
gorillyAsked:
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James NewportCommented:
We do a lot of Mac support - and basically you've nailed the solution that I would offer for the size of the company. We personally use QNAP, make sure you get one with an Intel processor as the ARM ones are a bit slow. I'd use O365 for mail too

I don't think you really need any help!

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gorillyAuthor Commented:
thanks for your reply @relyonit

Nice to know i wasn't trying to 're-invent the wheel' and someone could see my logic!

Can i ask why you use QNAP over Synology? I've looked at them a lot over the last few days and to be honest there seems to be very little difference between the two.

I have been looking at either a QNAP TS-253 Pro or the TS-453 Pro

Of if i go for Synology i have been looking at either DiskStation DS713+ or 4 bay synology equivalent

Can the QNAP sync with Office 365 cloud services?

Thanks!
serialbandCommented:
I don't think there is much difference between those smaller scale NAS appliances.

I doubt the Mac Mini is a first release, unless it's a old G4 based Mini that can only run Snow Leopard (10.6.8).  If you meant a earlier gen Intel Mac Mini, I would strongly suggest that it be upgraded to a newer system with SSDs.  You can also just attach a disks or a JBOD to the Mac Mini and share folders and files from there and the file permissions will work much better than from a NAS or Windows system.
gorillyAuthor Commented:
Real life experience +1
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