Apple Computer Inc. Wednesday announced the next update to its UNIX-based Mac OS X Server software, version 10.2. While the client version of Apples forthcoming "Jaguar" upgrade took the stage at CEO Steve Jobs Macworld Expo/New York keynote, the company quietly unveiled the new server release, set to ship alongside it in August.
Apple believes that it can contribute its trademark ease-of-use to the server OS space, said Tom Goguen, Apples director of Worldwide Product Marketing for Server Software. "You dont need a black-belt in UNIX," he said, pointing out that while OS X Server has an "industrial-strength" UNIX core, it takes only one button to start up the Apache web server. "Apple has so much to offer from that perspective."
While acknowledging that companies with a strong Windows investment are unlikely to make a full platform switch, Goguen said that Apple hopes to make inroads in mixed OS environments. "We think we can address those customers problems," he said.
Jaguar Server will ship with Open Directory, Apples LDAP-based directory services architecture. With LDAP built into its core, OS X Server can access any LDAP directory server. While Microsoft takes a different approach with its Active Directory, Goguen said, Apple can accomplish the same goals while embracing open standards.
Apples new Open Directory server also made possible another addition to OS X Server, Workgroup Manager. Jaguar Server allows administrators to control privileges and preferences for users, setting access for printers, applications and even the Mac OS X dock. All configurations are stored in the LDAPv3 directory server.
While Goguen said that Apple has yet to quantify a performance boost for the server upgrade, Jaguar boasts improvements to file system read/write as well as faster network I/O performance.
Mac OS X Server will also include support for NetBoot, which enables a Mac client to boot from a network rather than from its internal hard drive; Network Install, which simplifies the installation and upgrade process across networks for both OS X and third-party software; and IP failover capability, which allows a second server to assume the workload of an IP address in the event of a server failure.
Goguen also said that Apple is offering an extensive manual for OS X Server.
Brendan Coveney, CEO of San Jose, Calif.-based database developer 4D, said the underpinnings of the Jaguar Server will allow 4D to work more effectively with the enterprise market. "It opens up a lot of opportunities," he said.
Mac OS X Server v10.2 will ship August 24. A 10-client edition will sell for $499, while an unlimited-client edition will carry a $999 price tag.
Nick dePlume is the editor in chief of Think Secret, an online publication that provides Apple and Mac insider news.
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