Aqua Connect and HELIOS help enterprises abandoned by Apple

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.