Aqua Connect and HELIOS help enterprises abandoned by Apple

Aqua Connect and HELIOS help enterprises abandoned by Apple

Summary: Apple walked away from the enterprise server market and suggests using a workstation as an enterprise server. Two enterprising companies step in to help organizations needing Apple Mac OS X as an enterprise development or execution environment adapt.


Apple Computer
Earlier this month, Apple surprised enterprise IT decision-makers by announcing the demise of its Xserve with the suggestion that they move to the company's power powerful workstation, the Mac Pro. While this system offers the ability to expand up to 12 cores, it is no enterprise server. My colleague David Morgenstern, posted Apple in the enterprise: Living without Xserve. I, of course, felt compelled to chime in and posted Another view of "Apple in the enterprise: Living without Xserve".

Others rush in

Since that time, I've had the chance to communicate with representatives of two suppliers, each doing their best to fill the void Apple left and help protect the reputations of IT decision-makers who made an Apple decision. Aqua Connect, a supplier of access virtualization technology, and HELIOS Software, a supplier of system software for Linux and UNIX, both reached out to me offering different solutions.

Aqua Connect

Aqua Connect proposes that organizations follow Apple's suggestion and install a Mac Pro workstation and use Aqua's Mac Terminal server access virtualization solution to support multiple developers on a single workstation.  I've been told that, depending upon the configuration of the Mac Pro, between 80 and 100 developers can share a single workstation that resides in the datacenter.

The benefit to this approach is that Apple will still support its own development and operating system environmenet for developers creating software for the organization's iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad users. It is obvious that the company would reduce software, system and administrative costs using Aqua's approach.

The challenge with this approach is that the Mac Pro was not designed to be a rack-mounted server so, it won't live happily in the datacenter.  Nor was this system designed with sufficient memory, storage or network expansion to be a full fledged server.

All in all, this is a good solution for those wishing to continue to use Apple-supported software to support their developers.

HELIOS Software

HELIOS Software, is taking a different approach. They're offering software solutions allowing users of Apple enterprise servers to move to servers from other suppliers, such as IBM, Dell, HP or Sun.

HELIOS is offering  software products that can run on powerful and scalable servers including Apple Mac OS X, IBM AIX, Linux, Sun Solaris, and Windows systems. This, of course, would allow organizations to develop a migration process to some other system supplier and their supported operating environment. HELIOS products replicate some, but not all, of Apple's key system services on AIX, Linux and Solaris. They're offering AFP file and print sharing for Macs, Spotlight search, Bonjour server, Time Machine backups, etc. bundled together as the HELIOS File Server Bundle. They support Mac, Windows, and Web clients to provide reliable cross-platform support.

The benefit of this approach is that organizations will be able to move to a Linux or UNIX-based solution without losing all of the useful elements of the Mac OS X environment. These hardware suppliers often have a much better understanding of the needs of enterprise IT departments than Apple Computer appears to posses. This would allow the organization's Mac user population to connect to non-Apple servers and get most of their work accomplished. The challenge of this approach is that Apple Computer may or may not support their development tools and run time environments that would be necessary for those developing software for the organization's users of iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad devices.

Topics: Software, Apple, CXO, IT Employment


Daniel Kusnetzky, a reformed software engineer and product manager, founded Kusnetzky Group LLC in 2006. He's literally written the book on virtualization and often comments on cloud computing, mobility and systems software. In his spare time, he's also the managing partner of Lux Sonus LLC, an investment firm.

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  • BTW

    It's no long referred to as Apple Computer, but just Apple.
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    • RE: Aqua Connect and HELIOS help enterprises abandoned by Apple

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  • RE: Aqua Connect and HELIOS help enterprises abandoned by Apple

    In role reversal of Aqua Connect, you can actually run multiple virtual desktop off a Windows server from a Mac using ThinServer
  • RE: Aqua Connect and HELIOS help enterprises abandoned by Apple

    Err... Are you sure about the Mac Pro not being powerful enough to be a server? It can take plenty of RAM, and plenty of disk (8Tb). That isn't really the "problem".

    The Mac Pro is a thumping big box, this is bad as a modern server where "1U" or "2U" is the norm. The Mac Pro can't support redundant power supplies, this is very bad for a modern server. A Mac Pro is a total pain to try and upgrade while it's sat in a cabinet (not to mention how hard it is to actually sit it in a cabinet anyway - I think there are mounting kits, or you can stand it on a shelf).

    But performance isn't its problem.

    These problems aren't totally insurmountable, you can sit it in a cabinet on a shelf - you'd probably want three sat together to try and get some density. You can configure them in a failover configuration (so single failures aren't "show stoppers"). But you really do have to be "mad keen" to do this (emphasis on the "mad"), but it is flipping expensive. They still make excellent departmental servers (the Mac Pro always did).

    The big problem is often the system's balance isn't what you'd want from a server. The single socket versions can't take as much RAM, and offer very low performance density. The big bad twin socket ones cost a fortune, and probably have rather more compute firepower then you'd typically need in a single server (then there is the lack of HA, meaning you probably need a pair).

    Paradoxically, virtualising them might help. Then you can start to use the "big bad" twin socket Mac Pro in volume, HA isn't as much of an issue the extreme performance (per box) can start to work in your favour.

    Trouble is, there are cheaper solutions, and you're always compensating for the lack of "proper server" hardware (small dense, rackmountable, with redundant power supplies and HA).
    • RE: Aqua Connect and HELIOS help enterprises abandoned by Apple

      @jeremychappell my point was that while the Mac Pro is a powerful system, it wasn't designed to be a server. Thanks for pointing out the configuration, power supply and other limitations.
  • RE: Aqua Connect and HELIOS help enterprises abandoned by Apple

    HELIOS got a White Paper describing how to migrate OS X Server services to other server platforms (UNIX, Linux, Solaris, AIX). It is not development related, it focuses on AFP fileserver, SMB/CIFS fileserver, printing services, Web file sharing and collaboration , etc. The white paper is here: