Apple eyes corporate computing at Macworld

Apple Computer Inc. continued to muscle its way into the enterprise this month as it unveiled three new models of its Xserve with 2GHz, G5 processors from IBM Corp. at the MacWorld Conference & Expo in San Francisco .

Also introduced was Xserve RAID storage system with a maximum of 3.5TB of capacity.

The Xserve in a 1U form factor will be offered in single and dual 2GHz processor units, with as much as 8GB ECC (Error Correcting Code) memory, and as much as 750GB of storage. The single processor Xserve will be priced at US$2,999, and the dual processor unit priced at US$3,999.

A third US$2,999 model is optimized for clusters with dual 2GHz processors, 512MB of ECC RAM, 80GB hard drive, dual gigabit Ethernet, FireWire 800, and USB 2.0.

While many in the industry say the pricing is aggressive, one industry analyst does not believe the latest servers will change many minds in corporate IT.

“They continue to improve but this is not revolutionary. Intel (Corp.) processors running Linux is the golden-haired boy at this time,” said Jim Johnson, chairman at the Standish Group.

However, with the greater Intel server market in mind, Apple also introduced an upgraded Xserve RAID storage system that supports Windows and Linux-based platforms.

The 3U rack-mounted system will have a maximum capacity of 3.5TB, and as much as 210MB per second throughput.

The entry-level unit is priced at US$5,999 with dual independent RAID controls with 128MB of cache per controller, dual 2GB Fibre Channel Small Form-factor Pluggable (SFP), four 250GB ATA/100 Apple drive modules, 1TB storage, and 8MB on-drive cache.

At the top of the model line up is the US$10,999 unit that also includes 14 250GB ATA/100 Apple drive modules and 3.5TB of total storage.

Johnson said despite the more powerful server and storage, it will still be an uphill battle for Apple to penetrate more deeply into the enterprise. While Johnson said Apple’s products are rock-solid and priced well, what is lacking is IT mindshare.

“They have to be looked at as a viable alternative. They need to establish that,” he said. G5 Xserve models will be available in February; the Xserve RAID Storage System is available now.

Panther attracts database package

Sybase Inc. announced that it will continue to add an enterprise sheen to the Mac environment with the unveiling of the next version of Sybase ASE (Adaptive Server Enterprise) 12.5.1.

Last year, Sybase became the first ISV to offer its enterprise-class RDBMS for the Mac OS X platform. Version 12.5.1 of Sybase ASE offers significant support for and leverage of the new Panther operating system including support for asynchronous disk I/O.

“Now that Panther supports asynchronous I/O an application can go about its business while one thread is issuing an I/O request,” said Steve Olson, technical director of engineering at Sybase.

Sybase is also taking advantage of Panther’s ability to allow a single process to address as much as 4GB of memory, thus allowing Sybase ASE to increase performance by putting more data in its buffer caches. A Sybase plug-in to Panther’s Server Admin tool will allow users to administer the Sybase server along with the Apple Computer Inc. provided services, said Olsen.

“People who are not necessarily a DBA (database administrator) could administer this,” he said.

Version 12.5.1 for the Mac, as well as for other platforms, also will see a major upgrade to its XML capability. The release provides native XML support and will give users the ability to stream XML out of the database by converting it from a relational format to XML. Users will also be able to store XML documents and query them through X-Path and X-Query, W3C standard query language.

The question of whether these types of products will be enough to interest enterprise-level IT in the Macintosh platform has already been answered for Sybase.

“We have gotten a very substantial amount of new business because of the Mac. There’s no overlap between our traditional IT customer base, so all the Mac customers are brand new sources,” said Darryl Salas, principal consultant at Sybase.

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