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Thinking A Little Different

A year from now, I imagine that I'll look back and laugh at the
fact that my first Server Pipeline editor's note was
about...Apple. Partly about them, anyway. After all, it is
Macworld week, and although all the noise out of San Francisco is
about the increasingly ubiquitous iPod and new generations of
Macs, Apple has also devoted some effort to pushing its
Xserve G5 upgrade
, as well as its Xsan storage system. Wonder
of wonders, it's even devoted a website to IT professionals. Now
there's some thinking differently.

Trouble is, Apple isn't thinking quite differently enough. It's
likely to have the same issues with Xserve that it's always had
getting into IT shops--pricey hardware. All the unlimited client
license hookups that come with a Mac OS X Server deployment when
you buy Xserve G5s won't mitigate the fact that you can go a lot
more cheaply by deploying commodity servers running open-source
or, for bigger shops, a price-competitive deal from the likes of
IBM or Hewlett-Packard. With those behemoths emphasizing their
server lines this year, Apple will have to market like crazy to
play in the enterprise market. It has a good base to work from;
Mac OS X Server is plenty stable and the company's overall server
system, typically elegant and user-friendly (not to mention
cool--in the temperature sense, that is), makes rollouts easy for
IT managers. But those managers and their CIO bosses are looking
at their budgets, too.

And it could be that North America isn't even the market to be
concentrating on. News that Red Flag, China's leading Linux
developer, has joined the
Open Source Development Labs consortium
ought to be
refocusing attention on the fact that China's server market,
heavily open-source-dependent, is poised to explode over the next
five years. A Chinese market researcher pegs the expected growth
rate at 50 percent compounded annually. That's a lot of server
boxes, folks.