RealTime IT News

Apple Grabs Enterprise Tail

SAN FRANCISCO -- Apple Computer is counting on some advancements to its next-generation operating system to win it more space in the enterprise.

While the company has made great strides in breaking out of its desktop shell (can you say supercomputing powerhouse?), Apple said it is riding the momentum of its Mac OS X 10.3x "Panther" server operating system and adding 200 features to the industrial version of its Mac OS X 10.4x, code-named "Tiger."

During his keynote at the Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) here, CEO Steve Jobs also pointed out that Apple's developer base was as strong as ever, with 12 million OS X users (half of Apple's install base) now using Mac OS X and upwards of 12,000 native applications being built for Panther alone.

Apple will work with developers in the coming months to bring Mac OS Tiger to market in the first half of 2005. Both the client and enterprise versions of Tiger will natively run 64-bit programs that use 16 exabytes of virtual memory.

The server version of the new OS comes with several companion programs to support Apple's push into popular platforms like RSS (really simple syndication), with its Weblog Server application. Based on the popular open source project 'Blojsom,' the platform comes with Kerberos authentication support and LDAP integration to help users build their XML-RPC or Atom API blogs.

Tiger Server also includes a brand new iChat server with SSL/TSL encryption that is compatible with open source Jabber clients available on Windows, Linux and PDAs. Apple has also addressed the growing number of automation processes for which companies are increasingly using OS X.

Apple will add a new Software Update Server to Tiger, which will let system administrators host their own proxy/cache servers to control the availability of Apple's software updates for Mac OS X Tiger and Tiger Server systems. The OS will also include Access Control Lists that will provide a more flexible permissions model giving administrators better control over files, folders and network services. The new Internet Gateway Setup Assistant will make it easy for small business and home office users to set up complex network services, including DHCP, NAT, DNS, Port Routing, Firewall and VPN services. The company will also include the Xgrid 1.0 clustering software.

Tiger Server has also been updated with tools that make migrating from Windows-based servers easier. With the new OS, Apple said administrators can now migrate the user and group account information from an existing Windows Primary Domain Controller (PDC) automatically into an Open Directory. Tiger Server can then take over as the PDC for Windows clients and even host Windows users' home directories, group folders, roaming profiles and shared printers.

"These are additions to make us a better citizen in the Windows world," Jobs said, noting that the relationship between the two companies is strong.

Brian Croll, Apple senior director of worldwide software product marketing, told internetnews.com that the company is obviously working to iron out the compatibility between the sometimes disparate worlds.

"You will be able to move freely between an NT network and a Mac desktop," Croll said. "In that way, I can log into one machine on one environment and get my password in the other. We're also adding features so that our e-mail platform can be applied against an Exchange Server. The idea of being able to migrate controllers -- we think this is important because there is a large amount of customers that are sitting on older technology."

Apple's partners are also showing their support for OS X and an interest in Tiger. The short list includes Microsoft's Office 2004; Sun Microsystems' OS X-enhanced developer platform; Borland, which said it will support OS X in its next Optimizeit Suite; Quark and its QPS desktop publishing system; PeopleSoft, which is certifying all apps for OS X; and Oracle, which is scheduled to release its 10g Grid software for Mac OS X this week.

Ron Okamoto, Apple vice president of worldwide developer relations, told internetnews.com that there will be some lag time for some applications to port to Tiger, as Apple is catching some companies at the beginning of their developer cycles and some in the middle.

"This is one of the earliest developer seed releases that we've had," Okamoto said.

In related news, Apple previewed the second generation of its Xcode programmer's tool. Version 2 has new features such as Dead Code Stripping and Visual Modeling and Design. With Dead Code Stripping, developers can remove unused executable code from compiled applications and see the effect in smaller code sizes. The platform also adds 64-bit development tools; an integrated Apple Reference Library; Apple's enhanced version of the GCC v3.5 compiler; a graphical remote debugging system to display the debugging of data for full screen applications on remote machines; Ant build system support to make cross-platform development of Java applications easier; and support for Subversion Source Code Management, in addition to supporting open source technologies like CVS and Perforce.