Apple Computer Inc. hopes its new Tiger operating system will help the company crack open the enterprise server market, where its Xserve line lags behind Windows, Linux and other Unix offerings. But analysts said it's unclear if the 10.4 version of Mac OS X Server, which has built-in support for more than 100 open-source software technologies, will propel Apple beyond its traditional user base. That consists of academic and scientific institutions attracted by the powerful processing capabilities of Apple's systems, as well as publishing companies and others lured by its graphics and multimedia technology.
"They have a challenging environment," said IDC analyst Al Gillen. Apple's technology gives it an advantage in certain markets, Gillen said. But, he added, "overall, the Unix market isn't growing. The only way to grow is to take market share from one of your competitors."
No Plans to Change
Fourteen of 16 IT managers who responded to a random Computerworld e-mail poll this week said they have no plans to consider Tiger, either because they aren't familiar with it, they see no need to change their existing technology environments or they're trying to consolidate the various servers they now support.
For example, Stan Johnson, a desktop and LAN services manager for the Multnomah County government in Portland, Ore., said the county's IT department has settled on Windows and Solaris servers and has no plans to evaluate other technologies.
Sales of Apple's Xserve systems are strongest in the US$3,000-to-$5,999 price range of the Unix/RISC server market, according to Jean Bozman, another analyst at Framingham, Mass.-based IDC. In that category, Apple servers accounted for 20 percent of worldwide factory revenue and 21 percent of unit shipments last year, Bozman said. But looking at Unix/RISC servers priced at $25,000 or below, Apple had less than 5 percent of revenue and less than 10 percent of unit shipments, she said.
Florida Community College at Jacksonville uses two dozen Apple servers for video staging, archiving and developing multimedia applications, said CIO Rob Rennie. The servers have been "rock solid" and reliable, and the college will upgrade to Tiger as soon as it can, he said.
Apple servers gain entry to many companies by way of the desktop. For instance, the art department at Weather Central Inc.'s newspaper group uses Macintosh systems, so adding Apple servers was a natural step, said Chuck Sholdt, vice president of weather services at the Madison, Wis.-based weather graphics supplier.
Sholdt said his group installed its first Apple server software about 12 years ago and now uses two Xserve systems. "OS X has matured, and we just keep smiling every time a new upgrade comes out," he said.
But Macintosh usage does not always translate to adoption of Apple servers. About 30 percent of the end users at JWT, an advertising agency in New York, run Macintosh desktops, said Steve Bumba, JWT's worldwide systems director. But Windows is the official server platform, and Apple servers turn up only in isolated workgroups, he said. -- Computerworld (US)
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