Apple extends enterprise reach

Apple extends enterprise reach

Deepening its commitment to the enterprise, Apple Computer has announced its new Xserve and the company's first storage product, Xserve RAID.

Touting an aggressive combination of pricing, performance, and services, Apple is openly targeting edge-server rivals Sun Microsystems, IBM and Dell Computer in a move that analysts suggest represents a deliberate attempt to move beyond core markets.

The servers and the accompanying Server Admin and Java-based RAID Admin tools will be available in March and leverage Apple's open-standards strategy.

"We want to be at the portable fast end of the spectrum with an open-source model but also have all those benefits that you [expect from] Sun," Apple senior vice-president of worldwide marketing, Phil Schiller, said.

The news came at a time when enterprises continued to seriously evaluate Apple's long-term commitment to server-based products, senior analyst at Illuminata, Gordon Haff, said. "Ultimately, Apple needs to do something like this [because] desktops are getting so commoditised and so much of the intelligence is moving into the network and server," Haff said. "The role for a consumer-friendly, special desktop environment [such as Apple’s Mac OS] … has to inevitably decrease as you move to thinner [mobile] computers."

Vice-president of research at IDC, Jean Bozman, said Apple server sales had seen an uptick in the third quarter, although the company sold fewer than 10,000 units. The interest indicated Apple had the chance to expand beyond its graphics, educational, and government markets, particularly given Xserve's capability of handling streaming media and Web applications.

"If [Apple] can take this and continue this momentum, ... the question is, Can they break out into the broader base?" Bozman said. Apple's ability to bridge the Java and Windows worlds also positioned it "for a play in Web services."

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