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Apple planning rack-mount Mac OS X server

Thing Different

Mac Rumour Roundup Apple may be planning to break into the enterprise server market with a new rack-mount model based on the next major release of Mac OS X Server.

Mac OS X Server 2.0 - or Mac OS X 10.0 Server, as it will be called, according to eWeek sources - is expected to be announced at Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference next week. It brings the software up to date with updated network management tools and Mac OS X 10.0's Aqua user interface and other core technologies.

The launch was leaked to Think Secret and its sources hinted that a server hardware announcement was coming soon too. Other sources suggest that Apple will focus on "big iron", implying some kind of large server box of the kind the company has offered in the past.

However, some sources have noted a rack-mount development project, codenamed Thing 2, is "further down the line".

Such a two-pronged strategy makes sense. We can see Apple initially offering an upgraded Power Mac G4 server, bundled with Mac OS X Server 2.0, and aimed at its traditional workgroup server userbase.

Breaking out into the wider server market will require different hardware, that stresses the power of the OS over the finer points of system aesthetics. Rack-mounts provide a convenient way of cramming large numbers of servers into a small space. They're also designed to be ripped out and replaced when there's a fault.

For Apple, the benefit of pursuing this form factor is that it allows potential customers to evaluate the OS without having to worry too much about it being a Mac. If the hardware's compatible, they can chuck in a few OS X servers for evaluation.

Of course, that will pitch Apple against rack-mount servers running Unix or Linux from all the major vendors, like Sun, Dell and Compaq. Apple will have to offer a very solid hardware/software combination if it's to compete. Saying Mac OS X is more stable and looks prettier than Windows is one thing - going up against other Unix-based operating systems in mission-critical server environments is something else. ®

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Apple to launch Mac OS X Server 2.0 next week

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