Researchers at IDC believe Apple is beginning to make headway in the long-elusive enterprise markets.

Apple’s storage solutions, such as Xserve, Xserve RAID and software products such as OS X Server and Xsan are seen to be turning heads in the sector.

"Their focus has been in a couple of key verticals, especially in markets like digital media - you can't go anywhere without having Apple in that market," IDC analyst Kelly Quinn, said. "They have done a really good job of penetrating that market - some of the scientific and technical markets are a crossover from that because of the high-powered computing aspects."

While Apple agrees that its focus has been on more traditional markets like digital media, the introduction of the Xserve RAID storage system has opened new opportunities for the Cupertino company:

Penetrating key verticals!

"Nobody has the penetration we're seeing in these key vertical markets that are so important to Apple, but just as significant is the non-Mac space," said Alex Grossman, Apple director of product management, server hardware.

Grossman said that approximately 40 per cent of Apple's Xserve RAID shipments are going to non-Mac or heterogeneous environments, such as new corporate or enterprise customers.

The introduction of new technologies is also helping the adoption of Apple's enterprise products. Apple's Grossman points to the growth of HDTV as one example of companies that are upgrading their current facilities and turning to Apple.

Open up

"Do I buy something new that is proprietary, locked in and expensive? Or do I buy something new that is open, faster and cheaper? That is where we see an opportunity," said Grossman.

IDC also praises Apple's strategy of focusing their attention on specific vertical markets. The researchers feel that there is still a lot of room to grow in the traditional markets where Apple is currently entrenched.

"Apple is trying to be careful in picking what verticals they target," said IDC analyst Natalya Yezhkova. "For a company that has been in the market for two and half years, focusing on specific vertical markets is the best approach. Frankly, they still have a lot of opportunities within this market."

Love or loathe? That is the question

The analyst confirmed that Apple is attracting curiosity from some enterprises: "Yes they are and that is one of the reasons they [Apple] are trying to be very quiet about what they are doing," said Yezhkova. "Other companies are looking for any information on Apple to understand if they are competitors or partners."

While Apple hasn't specifically mentioned its server products in its Intel transition announced earlier this year, IDC sees it as a positive move for its growing enterprise business.

"I absolutely do not think it will hurt," said IDC's Quinn. "It will actually work to their benefit in the x86 server market. It seems like a very savvy move on their part."