Hardware Today: Apple Server Snapshot Page 2

Fitting In

Apple is quick to point out the heterogeneous nature of Xserve. It has been designed to work with Windows, Linux, Novell, and Unix. That doesn't mean, though, that anyone is expecting Xserve to push Wintel servers aside — at least any time soon. Few Windows-centric organizations are likely to beat a path to their local Apple server showroom.

"Although the Xserve integrates with Active Directory and with Windows desktops, this integration does require some configuration work — it doesn't just drop into an environment and work seamlessly," said Enck. "Therefore, the more homogeneous the organization is, the less likely they will find Xserve appealing."

Enck believes Xserve is a viable alternative to appliances, particularly NAS and Web appliances. Further, it may also be a good alternative for organizations that have not yet taken the plunge with Linux, and lack the technical know-how to ease the transition to open source.

Apple has gone out of its way to certify Xserve to work with Windows, various flavors of Linux, and other environments — and to ensure it functions well in all platforms. In addition, its licensing scheme beats Microsoft's hands down. Instead of buying server licenses and additional client access licenses (CAL) for every PC and device accessing the server, Apple offers unlimited client access for certain versions of Xserve.

In terms of usability, Grossman claims Xserve is the easiest Unix-based server to get up and running. While it may take a half day to set up Apache on Linux, it can be done on Mac OS with one click. Unix lovers can look under the hood and use the command lines with which they are familiar, while less technically savvy users can take advantage of a simple user interface that cloaks all the complexity.

What's Next?

Mac OS 10.4, codenamed Tiger, is scheduled to be unveiled in the first half of 2005, says Grossman. Another new addition, due imminently, is a clustered file system known as XSAN. This 64-bit SAN software enables multiple high-end video clients to be hooked up with the server and the storage box. It can also act as a common data store when sharing data among many servers.

"The Apple storage solution is very strong in terms of functionality and value," said Enck. "I think the attach rate between Xserve and their storage products will be reasonably high."

This article was originally published on Dec 6, 2004
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