Apple Nibbles at New Markets...

...with its upgraded server and RAID systems as well as new clustering and grid technologies. What's stunning isn't that Apple Computer Inc.'s engineers can, say, design a server with two 2-GHz G5 processors, 1GB of memory, storage capacity of 80 to 750GB and loads of other goodies all in a slim 1U package (a mere 1.75-in. thick). No, what's stunning is that Apple's marketers will price the Xserve system at $3,999. That makes the long-reputed price-gouging Macintosh maker the price leader for dual-CPU servers by a couple of bucks. But when you add in Windows per-client pricing, the savings become huge. Apple sells its systems with no per-client fees for Mac OS X. In contrast, a 25-user enterprise license for Windows adds $2,495 to the price of a dual-processor PowerEdge 1750 server from Dell Inc. Apple's approach has won it a few small bites of business among penny-pinching Internet service providers, cheapskates in the scientific and technology communities, and even the money-grubbers on Wall Street. Well, maybe not exactly Wall Street. But one CIO in the financial industry, Jon Moog at St. Cloud, Minn.-based RiskWise LLC, which runs credit checks for large financial institutions, uses more than 250 Xserve systems in his data center and is more than pleased. "We get tremendous performance from them," he says. Tom Goguen, Apple's director of product management for server software, claims that Moog and others in markets outside his company's bailiwicks of publishing and education buy the Xserve systems because of Apple's slavish support of industry standards. Moog agrees. But he's also enamored with the Xserve's pricing. "Dollar for dollar, the systems are cheaper than Windows machines," Moog points out. Will he upgrade to the new G5 Xserve? "Without a doubt." Savings begin next month, when shipments start.

• One small part of the aggressive cost containment in Apple's servers is its use of low-cost Advanced Technology Attachment drives. One ATA drive maker, Nexsan Technologies Inc. in Woodland Hills, Calif., will be improving ATA drive performance and capacity later this quarter when it ships the first serial-interface ATA blade on the market, claims Senior Executive Vice President Diamond Lofton. The SATAblade will pack up to eight 250GB drives into a single 1U RAID appliance. And you can tie three of the devices together, packing 6TB into a unit that's less than 6 inches wide. Lofton says that reading and writing data to and from the drives will be boosted to 220Mbit/sec. per port, up from 75Mbit/sec. today. And, he adds, "there will be no price increase, possibly even a price decrease."

• The major database vendors have long chided MySQL as not being an enterprise-class database because it lacks stored procedures, which let developers write an application so that part of the application logic can be stored on the server and part on the client. This week, MySQL AB in Uppsala, Sweden, will release MySQL alpha Version 5 to open-source developers, who will test it for bugs and reliability. It will use industry-standard SQL, as opposed to the various SQL dialects adopted by other database suppliers, claims Marten Mickos, MySQL's CEO. He expects the final version to be ready in about six months. "But we won't rush things," he says. "It's like a cake. It's done when it's brown, not when the timer goes off."

• Used to be that a television was a TV and computer display a mere monitor. But it'll be harder to tell the difference beginning in April, when Sharp Electronics Corp. in Mahwah, N.J., releases Open Aquos, a line of 15- or 20-in. TVs equipped with a PC Card slot, a Java virtual machine and 802.11 wireless capability. Gary Feathers, director of digital audiovisual systems for Sharp Labs in Camus, Wash., expects third-party developers to exploit the JVM for both consumers and business. But if you just want to watch TV wirelessly, be one of the first next month to get Mobile Aquos, a 15-in. LCD TV that uses 802.11 and three hours of battery life to let you roam at will and not miss a moment of Oprah.

Free Certification

Linux Professional Institute Inc. in Brampton, Ontario, will be offering free Linux certification testing for attendees at next week's LinuxWorld Conference at the Javits Convention Center in New York. You must preregister at www.lpi.org/en/register.html. Study hard.

Copyright © 2004 IDG Communications, Inc.

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