Apple's Xserve and Xserve RAID have been recognized as high-quality products – yet the consensus among IT professionals remains that success in the enterprise market depends on the debut of high-end applications for Apple's professional solutions.
IBM's DB2 database software – as used by many enterprise companies – does not yet run on Mac OS X, but the company is prepared to consider it, it said. This follows recent news that Oracle's 10g grid-computing database platform now supports Mac OS X.
Apple UK managing director Mark Rogers calls Xserve RAID Apple's "iPod for the enterprise", because the product is platform-agnostic. The company recently took leading IT directors from 70 of the UK's top 100 companies through the features of its high-end solutions, and reports claim a large percentage of those feted on that trip chose to buy at least one of the products to test within their existing infrastructures.
Oracle and Apple have also teamed up on a global tour to demonstrate Oracle's 10g database software working on Apple's solutions. Attracting high-end applications such as Oracle 10g is essential for Apple to achieve sales in the enterprise, experts agree.
Apple says: "Join Oracle and Apple executives for an international roadshow to introduce Oracle10g on Mac OS X Server, Apple's award winning UNIX-based server operating system. Apple and Oracle give you the most flexible, affordable, and easy way to manage your enterprise information."
Attracting more enterprise software developers to Mac OS X is essential; but it appears likely that others are waiting in the wings to make such a move. Speaking at Macworld Conference last month Apple Europe director of software product marketing Oren Ziv suggested that more high-end enterprise-ready applications for the platform are on the horizon.
Speaking to MacNewsWorld, Apple's director of server software Tom Goguen "did note the advances Apple is seeing in the general enterprise market", according to the report. He said: "The fact that enterprise providers are bringing their solutions to OS X speaks volumes about our growth."
"While our traditional markets have been with creative professionals and education, we see implementations of our enterprise applications across the board," he added.
Linux vendor Yellow Dog Linux (Terra Soft) recently enabled an Xserve G5 cluster using Linux, offering more opportunities in the enterprise market for Apple.
"Our customers' enthusiasm is overwhelming as we are weekly receiving quote requests for systems built upon this product line," said Kai Staats, CEO of Terra Soft Solutions.
Apple's enterprise products also continue to gather critical acclaim. Most recently Computerworld published an in-depth review of the products, in which it warned readers to "keep a chair handy to faint into", and observed that G4 Xserve owners will be "in awe of this box".
"My review can be summed up easily: The Xserve is fast – really, really fast! This box screams, yet it's incredibly quiet in operation. Although it has eight fans, all run quietly, and only when necessary. I could put this on my desk and not hear any noise except for the gasps of fellow techies when they see it," the reviewer writes.
On Xserve RAID, the review explains: "This unit is well thought out: an enterprise-quality workhorse that provides multiple points of fault tolerance and hot swappability. The cost per gigabyte is also the lowest of all enterprise-quality RAID vendors, yet the device is just as solid and stable as its competitors."
Apple clearly has two viable offerings for its new foray into the new market, and the reviewer concludes: "The units are clearly enterprise quality, and given the low initial cost, and low power draw and heat output, data-centre managers everywhere should welcome them".