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Apple Quietly Chases The Enterprise Customer

At last week's Macworld Expo in San Francisco, there was a strange sight in the Apple booth -- and I'm not talking about the guys wearing berets, or the woman in goth attire.

The unexpected appearance of a networking closet rack-mount display was what caught me off-guard, hidden as it was near the rear of the sprawling Apple layout. What was even more surprising was the fact that the rack-mounts were drawing their fair share of onlookers and tire-kickers, and not just because there was too long a line to play with the iPod minis.

Apparently there really are enterprise customers who are more than a little bit interested in Apple's rack-mounted servers and RAID drives, including the new versions introduced at the show. In fact, at a panel discussion about Apple's new enterprise offerings, more than half the audience claimed they had responsibility for more than 1,000 users in their networks -- a truly unscientific poll, but nonetheless impressive, especially if you're not aware that Apple innovates in areas other than music and operating systems with cool graphical interfaces.

While Network Computing's Steven J. Schuchart Jr. has favorably reviewed
Apple's server offerings in the past, my question is: Does Apple even stand a chance with mainstream enterprise networking purchasing departments?

Network Computing associate technology editor Michael J. DeMaria, who follows this area closely, opines that Apple will have tough sledding with enterprise IT folks.

"When it comes to businesses, I'd suspect the best place for Apple would be at the departmental level and SMB market," said DeMaria.

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