Apples Xserve: Ready for G5 Leap? - Page 2

Several of Apples enterprise partners are moving to support the new Panther version of the server operating system.

At the Xserves introduction. Oracle Corp. officials said the company would port a version of their database to Mac OS X. It currently offers a release candidate of Oracle 9i for Mac OS X 10.2 "Jaguar".

Oracle "will support the Mac OS X (Panther) as a major platform for the Oracle Database 10g, which will be available at the end of the year," a spokeswoman from Oracle said in an e-mail.

The Xserve is also supported by Hewlett-Packard Co.s OpenView management products. "The industry-standard SNMP Xserve also supports industry-standard SNMP for monitoring and managing multiplatform networks," said Kristin Bleier, a spokeswoman for HP, in an e-mail.

"Mac OS X Server provides useful system and network statistics via its default Net-SNMP management information bases (MIBs). Administrators can use both open source and commercial tools, such as HP OpenView, for remote monitoring of processor and bandwidth use, disk space levels, and other key network statistics," she said.

Sybase Inc. announced a version of Open Server and Open Client for Mac OS X I 2002, and has already ported a version of its Adaptive Server Enterprise Version 12.5 for the Mac OS.

For customers, performance and the promise of more enterprise applications are beginning to win Apple acceptance in the market. In addition, the Xserve is found low cost when compared with some packages.

"When we started using Apple, we got a lot of skepticism from customers and investors," said Jon Moog, CIO at RiskWise Inc., an Xserve customer that uses the servers to run billing and verification applications. "We had to justify to them what we were doing.

"Now, when we talk to them about Apple, theyre not only interested in how weve done it, theyve begun researching it themselves," he continued.

The low cost of Apples solution is what drew RiskWise to select the Xserve, Moog said. Although the company had used the "Jaguar" version of OS X as well as OS9 to run its applications, the company evaluated Sun, HP and IBM, but found them too expensive, Moog said. The Xserve and especially Apples storage server, the Xserve RAID, use cheaper ATA disk drives that are hot-swappable, a feature previously reserved for SCSI drives.

Customers polled previously by eWEEK said Apples support has been excellent. The company has apparently reshuffled some of its support teams since the Panther Server launch. Zelenka declined to comment on the number of support staff Apple employs to service Xserve customers, but said the company has set aside dedicated support teams for both hardware and software issues, with both telephone and e-mail access.

One customer who declined attribution pointed to weaknesses in Xserves software base. He complained of some bugs in the GUI management tools as well as difficulties with SendMail, which he said "doesnt work," and MySQL.

Rand Wacker, director of product strategy and planning at SendMail Inc., said that the open-source software group has yet to add OS X Panther support in an official release. However, Wacker said he successfully compiled the SendMail source himself using the older Jaguar version of Mac OS X.

Meanwhile, Apple and others in the Mac community expect future growth to come from a new market for high-performance servers. "We also see significant growth in the federal space, and in clustering solutions used for scientific applications," Zelenka added.

Next page: So wheres the G5 Xserve?