AHEAD OF THE CURVE: Tell me something I don't know

AHEAD OF THE CURVE: Tell me something I don't know

"We don't see penetration of Apple into the enterprise." That line arrived in an email from an editor shaping my feature on server virtualisation.

The timing was interesting. At that very moment I was watching the lights come up on a fresh network with four dual-processor PC servers, two Xserves, one PowerBook and one Power Mac G5 linked via Fibre Channel to a pair of Xserve RAIDs totalling 5TB. The Power Mac was in charge of network management, as usual.

I had a screen full of management application windows on my LCD panel telling me, each in its own way, to wait a minute. Then the windows started filling with log-in screens and hardware status icons.

That's when my OS X mail client's icon started hopping. And that's when I learned that Apple Computer doesn't have penetration in the enterprise. I panicked.

I pondered whether the unit sales of my Emulex 355 storage switch had crossed that undefined threshold that qualifies it for the brass ring of penetration. What of the brand of my Fibre Channel cables, the manufacturer of my RAM, and the model of my managed Gigabit Ethernet switch? My LCD panel! My surge protectors!

This panic isn't my editor's fault; he was just making sure that the bandage over my Apple tattoo didn't slip into a story.

But this isn't about Apple; it's not about any specific choices I've made in equipping my SMB-like lab. What pushes one of my biggest buttons is the assertion that IT managers and technologists are only interested in hearing about all the technologies they're already using.

How much knowledge and satisfaction would a cartographer derive from repeatedly studying variations on a map of his neighbourhood? The expansion of his abilities, through his imagination, would be better served by studying maps of cities he'd never seen and visiting some of the more compelling ones.

You take inspiration where you find it. Try this on for size: Microsoft Virtual PC 7 for Mac is running MDaemon, my favourite Windows email server, right now on my PowerPC-based Xserve G5. I guarantee there is virtually nobody doing this.

But that doesn't make this short story, or the one I told about building my storage network in two hours, useless to those without Macs, MDaemon or Emulex 355 switches.

Maybe my running a Windows mail server on a Mac - which I do to save watts and floor space - makes you curious about the whole field of emulation and virtualisation.

Perhaps you're dreading a platform migration and this leads you to investigate intermediate stages that could ease the transition.

The point is that you're the enterprise. Every one of you is reaching outside the list to get your work done, to keep your infrastructure running, to keep up with demand and to keep your staff from wandering into the rut of same stuff, different day. Where do you think I got the idea?

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