Without Virtualization, Apple's OS Will Die

Summary:The death of Apple's OS X wouldn't particularly hurt the company but there's a way to save it and it's pretty simple: Virtualization.

Apple and virtualization pundits agree that Apple needs to allow virtualization of its operating system. Although, it's likely that OS X Server is fading away after the Lion release, the desktop version has a strong future ahead of it. Its future will be guaranteed if virtualization is part of that future. Without virtualization, Apple's OS will die. Perhaps Lion will roar into the virtual world.

But, with Lion's short-lived future as a server OS, is there really a point? Yes, there might just be a point. At least it seems that VMware and Oracle think so.

vSphere 5 reportedly supports OS X Server but there's no confirmation of any of the leaked features from VMware. In fact, VMware has, "No comment" on this particular issue.

Apparently, Oracle has no fear of Apple's EULA or it's possible that Apple is about to change. The latest version of VirtualBox allows you to create a Mac OS X Server virtual machine, 32 or 64-bit. Yep, it's built-in to the VirtualBox list of available operating systems. So, is Oracle going to force Apple into virtualizing its beloved OS X or are we taking our own risks by installing OS X on non-Apple hardware? Apple, unfortunately, is never available for comment on any topic unless you're one of their accepted pundits, so don't expect to see their point of view expressed here.

Apple's EULA doesn't explicitly prohibit OS X virtualization but it does state that you may only install the OS on a single system using Apple-branded hardware. So, the workaround would be to install OS X into a VM on an Apple Server or workstation. Yeah, that would be awesome. And, useless.

License Excerpt from the OS X EULA:

A. Single Use License. Subject to the terms and conditions of this License, unless you have purchased a Family Pack or Upgrade license for the Apple Software, you are granted a limited non-exclusive license to install, use and run one (1) copy of the Apple Software on a single Apple-branded computer at a time. You agree not to install, use or run the Apple Software on any non-Apple-branded computer, or to enable others to do so. This License does not allow the Apple Software to exist on more than one computer at a time, and you may not make the Apple Software available over a network where it could be used by multiple computers at the same time.

I'm confused though, as to why VMware and Oracle would bother supporting OS X Server. That's the wrong direction for them to go with Apple support. No one cares about OS X Server. That's not where virtualization's advantage is for Apple.

That said, Oracle and VMware might know something that we don't, since they're blatantly supporting OS X regardless of what's clearly stated in the EULA. I'm hoping that Apple learned its earlier lessons about marketing, trends and user-oriented computing that almost cost them the company. They can no longer ignore virtualization and OS X has a lot of potential in the VDI market.

Yes, VDI.

People love Apple. People love OS X. People love virtualization. Put them all together and what do you have? Apple making more money from cloud-based desktops. Remove OS X from the mix and Apple might lose its relevance as a computing company and simply exist as a gadget maker. But, who cares, they'll certainly lose little money and no sleep over gadgetifying the company.

What do you think Apple, VMware and Oracle have up their collective sleeves? Talk back and let me know.

Be sure to catch tomorrow's post, where I'll discuss my take on the future of Apple and virtualization.

Topics: CXO, Apple, Hardware, IT Employment, Operating Systems, Software, Virtualization

About

Kenneth 'Ken' Hess is a full-time Windows and Linux system administrator with 20 years of experience with Mac, Linux, UNIX, and Windows systems in large multi-data center environments.

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