Yesterday, Apple released its Advanced Administration guide for Mountain Lion Server. The guide contains just about everything a small business IT administrator needs to know about Apple's newest server OS. What it doesn't include are any references to enterprise tools like Server Admin or Workgroup Manager — both part of Apple's Server Admin Tools suite for OS X Lion Server.

Server Admin and Workgroup Manager are utilities that offered IT administrators granular control over services and user permissions, among other things. Starting with OS X Lion, this functionality was unified under the Server app, but an administrator could still install the Server Admin Tools suite to regain both legacy utilities' familiar layout. Apple's Server Admin Tools are restricted to OS X 10.7, creating problems for IT departments that haven't yet adjusted to the changes in the Server app but are still running Leopard or Snow Leopard on their servers.

Apple has relegated support for enterprise-class IT departments to a distillation of bare-bone elements

From 10.6 to 10.8, Apple has relegated support for enterprise-class IT departments to a distillation of bare-bone elements. From the discontinuation of the Xserve in January of 2011 to the complete removal of the Apple Certified Systems Administrator certification, the company has left enterprise behind and propped the door open for other software suites, like Symantec Altiris, to fill in the gaps. By forcing administrators to use the new unified Server app, Apple is sending a clear message about the companies direction while simultaneously ignoring the obvious technical challenges that will result from this change.

The news isn't all bad for IT administrators — most of the functionality that was available through the Server Admin Tools suite has been integrated into Mountain Lion's Server app. Apple has also integrated the System Imaging Utility, though many administrators have moved on to more robust utilities like DeployStudio or imaging programs like Munki and InstaDMG. If you're an administrator that hasn't made the switch yet, Apple's Advanced Administration guide is available now, and it's a good bit cheaper than a CompTIA certification.