Despite its nascent status, Apple Computer Inc.’s server division is gaining momentum among ISV partners and corporate users of its Xserve and OS X operating system.
Grey Zone Inc., an extranet software developer, Visa International Inc., Terayon and Kelly-Moore on the books, will announce this week a partnership with Sybase to create an enterprise-class application for extranets running on Xserve.
Before the first quarter ends another ISV, Smith Micro Software Inc., will also weigh in with enterprise software, launching WebDNA 5.0 enterprise edition.
WebDNA is a scripting language with a built-in database for generating Internet-based business applications. The enterprise version will consume Web services in the first version and create Web services in the second version.
In addition, Grey Zone will announce a deal on January 28 to co-market its content management solution and conduct joint technical development of an application stack for its SecureZone 5 Extranet software atop Sybase’s relational database management system.
SecureZone currently runs on Linux based systems, however Grey Zone executives said the addition of Sybase into the mix gives them an enterprise class database for Apple.
“MySQL [Linux DBMS] doesn’t have the resources that Sybase has. Our software is just as much a transaction based solution as any other transaction software would be and Sybase is optimized for that high level transaction capability,” said Daniel Duerr, founder Grey Zone.
Terayon, a manufacturer of broadband communications equipment with 500 employees and revenues in the $100 million range is one of the first companies to move to Grey Zone’s software .
“We had previously been hosting at Exodus on Linux but the cost was prohibitive and we made the decision to host ourselves,” said Matt Ott, director of Marketing at Terayon, in Santa Clara, Calif.
After reviewing numerous platforms, Ott said Terayon went with the Mac platform for its ease of use and price performance, especially in the area of storage where Mac supports less costly IDE drives rather than SCSI which is typical of 1U rack mounted servers.
“We have a bunch of Unix guys around here and they go in through the command line and I go in through the GUI and everybody is happy,” Ott said.
Ott added that SecureZone supports unlimited users unlike the Windows licensing model. The SecureZone application encompasses functionality for personalization, customized Web site creation, authoring, Web management access control and security. Secure Zone for Sybase will ship by the end of the first quarter and will start at $25,000 for one server and five groups.
According to one industry analyst, Apple stands to benefit from the combination of more ISVs rolling out enterprise applications for Xserve and the current anti-Microsoft climate.
“There are a lot of forces in the anti-Microsoft camp and Apple is another good alternative. And for the enterprise, IT managers are looking for the kind of support that Sybase can provide. They offer more structure than Linux can supply,” said Jim Johnson, chairman of he Standish Group in West Yarmouth, Mass.
Currently, Apple has approximately 3.5 percent market share among desktop users but well under 1 percent in the server market, largely due to the fact that Xserve was introduced late last year, Johnson said.
Smith Micro’s application will include a server-side application for content management with a Web-based interface. WebDNA version 5.0 will have a wizard that allows users to step through the process of searching and consuming a UDDI service and tailoring it for the user’s environment by generating code to interface with that Web service.
Phil Bonesteele, WebDNA’s director of product development and professional services said the company has always supported Apple but the addition of OS X Server makes it far easier to create Web services.
“In the course of the last year we have seen that Apple is taking a growing proportion of our new sales,” he said.
Will Apple be a significant player in the enterprise? Many analysts argue it is unlikely, but Apple partners dealing with enterprise customers have a different perspective.
ProVar, one of Apple’s only enterprise specialist VARs that deal with large publishing, new media and entertainment companies, said OS X Server is on a roll. After receiving single unit sale orders by companies that just wanted to kick the tires, the company now receives orders for multiple units in the, 20s and 100s.
“We are getting into accounts that would never look at a Mac before this. It is a breakthrough product for Apple for two reasons: the OS is Unix based, and number two because the server form factor is appealing a 1U rack mount server RAID 5 built in,” said Wiley Corbett, CEO of ProVar in Greenville, NC.