Apple's Xserve has joined Gartner’s Magic Quadrant, but the company still has work to do in wining over the enterprise market.

Gartner states: “Apple’s offering is highly visionary, but it must establish its credibility as a server provider in the enterprise market.”

IT-Enquirer examines Apple's position in the enterprise market, and looks at what the future might hold for the company if it can win the market over.

Macs struggle

The report asks why Power Mac G5 units aren’t yet appearing in the enterprise environment – following the adoption of Xserves. IT-Enquirer puts this down to: "An invisible psychological barrier that Apple is flirting with. Once a company finds itself at the wrong end of that barrier, it becomes increasingly difficult to even remain at the same position.

"However, the server market figures prove that Apple is capable of drawing the IT-department’s attention. A good price, good quality and ease-of-management and power to spare is what it takes for an IT-manager to be happy.

"Apple has succeeded in this market because of these characteristics being abundantly available, but also and especially because it has made a point for itself by advertising strongly with the Virginia Tech’s supercomputer."

Tiger tales

IT-Enquirer asks the question: "Will Tiger be ready for enterpreneural usage?" It concludes that it will, for a number of reasons.

"Tiger client should appeal to enterprises because it’s not only based on one of the most robust platforms available," writes the reporter.

The report highlights the benefits of iChat, iSync, Automator, and Spotlight.

"The improvements in an application like iChat are not useful just to video-editors, printers, or graphics artists. The ability to set up a video-conference within an organization or even across the Internet, firmly based in the OS itself – indeed, nothing short of a service provided by it – is one that does not exist on the PC platform in such an easy-to-use format.

"Spotlight releases the knowledge available on any user’s desktop machine by enabling users to find information fast and categorized"

The report concludes: "Undoubtedly, Apple will have to push Mac OS X 10.4 and the hardware to go with it, into the market. It will have to find something just as appealing as it has done with the Xserve and supercomputing."

Of Colsa

In related news, more details have emerged about the Colsa supercomputing platform that consists of 1,566 Xserve G5s.

Hardware Today has spoken with Colsa executive VP Dr Anthony DiRienzo. He said that the Xserve cluster gives his company 60 times more computational power than the previous set up.

"Flight tests are extremely costly, so this technology enables us to pick up the development and design pace via more iterations. We will no longer have design engineers waiting two months for an answer," he explained.

Best of the bunch

According to the report, Colsa experimented first with Apple clusters using 17 Power Mac G4 systems when clusters weren't yet fashionable. When it decided to add supercomputing power to its operations, it tested everything out there including AMD Athlon, Intel Xeon, AMD Opteron, Intel Itanium2, and PowerPC G5.

Eight systems were tested. This test involved simplified geometry with 2 million grid points and aero-thermodynamics of 12 chemical species in the atmosphere and engine combustion products. One cluster had a reliable processor but high power and heat requirements. Another had a capable but expensive processor that was four or five times more expensive than the G5. The Xserve won.

Heat seeking

One area that the Xserve performed particularly wall was heat. "Our experience with other 1U servers has been less than satisfactory in that we have had to modify some to dissipate the heat," said DiRienzo. "This decent engineering allows the Apple server to run at maximum power when needed whereas other competitors do not."

Based on the results achieved so far, DiRienzo says he is happy with the cluster's performance. He told Hardware Today: "At its peak, the supercluster can exceed 25 teraflops. With this kind of power, we expect to design scramjet engines and missiles more economically, with significant reduction in wind tunnel testing and in the number of very expensive flight tests."

The only problem Colsa encountered was with the interaction of Linpack tests with Mac OS X 10.3, but Apple developed a firmware fix to the problem.

DiRienzo's colleague, team head Dr. John Medeiros, recently spoke with Apple about the Colsa project.