While most of the attention Friday is on the client version of Apples latest release of its Mac OS X operating system, Tiger Server is a major event in itself. It bridges the worlds of open source, Unix and Windows, and may be the key to finally gaining Apple a foothold in the corporate data center.
Integrated into Tiger Server are a secure instant messaging server, a mail gateway with spam and virus filtering, and a Weblog server—all of which can integrate directly with corporate directory services and access control systems, including LDAP and Microsofts Active Directory Service.
Tiger Server plays well with Windows clients for other reasons. Apple has also included full support for ACLs (access control lists)—based on the same ACL specification used by Microsoft in Windows XP and Windows 2003. Windows users accessing files or applications on Tiger Server would see the same permissions they would have on any Windows server.
And since Apple doesnt charge for CALs (client access licenses), an Apple box running Tiger Server could do the same job as a Windows 2003 system for hundreds or thousands of dollars less.
The fifth major release of Apples server operating system includes over 200 new features, according to Eric Zelenka, Apples senior product manager for server and storage software. “There are more than 100 open-source projects integrated into Tiger Server,” he said in an interview with Ziff Davis Internet. “Theyre not just bits on disk; weve fully integrated them. One of our real goals with Tiger Server is to make open source easy to use.”
Tiger Servers mail gateway is one example of how Apple has leveraged open source. The software leverages the Apache Software Foundations Spam Assassin Project for its adaptive spam filtering capabilities, and the ClamAV open-source virus scanning engine. Apple has integrated the two into Tiger Servers mail server software, which can be used on its own as a mail server or as an SMTP gateway between corporate mail servers and the Internet.
The iChat Messaging Server is another element of Tiger Server derived from open source. Its based on Jabber and the Extensible Messaging and Presence Protocol (XMPP) (which are now supported by Apples iChat client).
But iChat Server also uses SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) encryption and can be integrated with corporate directory services such as LDAP and Active Directory to create a secure messaging server behind the corporate firewall.
The Apple Weblog Server again leverages open source and combines it with Apples own special packaging. The software is based on Blosxom, open-source blogging software originally developed by Rael Dornfest, chief technology officer of OReilly Media. But it includes a number of Apple-created templates and other extras.
The blog server software automatically creates RSS and Atom syndication feeds for content, and allows users to post entries from a Web browser—including integration with directory services for authentication and access policies. “The software can be used for traditional blogs, but we see it being used for group project tracking,” said Zelenka.
Tiger Server shares a few important technologies with the client version of the OS that are purely Apples work. One of those is Xgrid, Apples distributed computing environment. Tiger Server includes Xgrid Controller, a grid “master” that can farm out computing tasks to any computer on the local network—including Tiger client machines that have been configured to hand over compute cycles whenever they are idle.
And, like the client, Tiger Server has the ability to run 64-bit applications in “native” mode. While the operating system itself is 32-bit, the OS includes XCode 2, Apples integrated development environment for 32- and 64-bit applications, and a full set of 64-bit libraries, so developers can build applications that can address up to 8GB of RAM. This ability is even more critical on Tiger Server, where it can be put to use by applications like database servers, image processing and scientific applications.
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