Now that it's buying into Mac platform, IT should dig deeper into Apple Computer Inc.'s server lineup. Like you, I make my living in technology. And like you, I don't make capricious career choices. The decision I made about two years ago to focus my IT operations, my research, and a good deal of my editorial output on the Mac platform will shape the rest of my working life.
Most professionals have these turning points. Those of us who differentiate ourselves by riding the leading edge have the most to lose, and therefore more occasions during which our faith is tested. Nothing tests your faith like betting the farm on proprietary technology from a company that can't seem to decide whether it wants the kind of success that will keep you employable.
In my case, I laid it all on the line for the Mac, betting large that Apple's technology would find its way into the mainstream of business and institutional computing and rise to dominate portions of the market that Apple doesn't already own. The trajectory of Mac client systems and applications validates my commitment to the platform. The power and practical flexibility designed into PowerBook, Power Mac, iMac, and OS X is now universally easy to see and easy for me to convey to readers unfamiliar with the Mac.
For all that Mac notebooks, Mac desktops, the community, and OS X have going for them, the client platform would be nowhere without its killer app, Office. That Microsoft Corp. sells Office for OS X does not draw new customers to the Mac, but it does ease their concerns about the potential pain of switching platforms. But there was no equivalent of Office for OS X Server. There was no ubiquitous killer app that made prospective server customers confident that they could buy Xserve for all its unique qualities while not sacrificing their ability to run applications they already use. Until Apple could offer server buyers a comparable level of comfort, Xserve and OS X Server would remain esoteric in the eyes of shops that currently see Xserve as merely a nifty foundation for open source and custom applications.
Now that Oracle 10g has landed on OS X Server, businesses and institutions have a reason to dig deeper into Apple's server lineup. They'll feel safe enough to get educated and excited about 64-bit RISC technology at x86 prices, the vital importance of a throughput-optimized architecture, and the rationale behind Apple's insistence on reinventing wheels and jumping into markets where the pie is already divided into fat slices.
It doesn't matter whether prospective Xserve buyers use Oracle 10g; they'll take the platform more seriously now because it has something meaningful in common with platforms they already know and respect, or settle for.
Those of us who bought into Mac servers early, not with intermittent lip service but with consistent and effortful commitment, welcome Oracle's arrival on the Mac because a larger installed base of servers, and the opportunities that come with them, will take root.
In a year, there will be more jobs for Mac server specialists than there are experienced candidates to fill them, and there will be a profitable market for new commercial third-party software focused on OS X Server.
Oracle didn't make Xserve any more than Microsoft made PowerBook. But Oracle 10g does make Xserve a safe bet, or at least safe enough to lean in for a closer look. -- InfoWorld (US)