February 22, 2011

Apple and the Enterprise

Bob Cringely published mild speculation on the future of Apple Mac-based enterprise computing today. The gist: this week's impending MacBook Pro update will include not only the new Light Peak connection technology, allowing for 10-gigabit transfer speeds, but also a new Mac Mini with the same connection technology. The Mac Mini, a drop-in replacement for desktop computing that ships without keyboard, mouse or display, also fits a 2U rack chassis when stood on-end. This is important for data center applications.

Apple announced last year that they would no longer produce their xServe Mac server platform, effectively pulling out of the enterprise computing market. By adding Light Peak to the Mini, Apple effectively re-enters that market by selling a plug-in server that already ships with distributed computing scheduling built into the OS. Need more computing power? Plug in another brick and Grand Central, via Light Peak, automatically configures more high-bandwidth computing availability.

According to Cringely, one 2U rack space of Minis runs rings around a single 1U rack of xServe, with plug-in expandability. Today's (or this week's) 10-gigabit, 3-meter limit Light Peak, implemented with copper, will eventually give way to a 100-gigabit, 100-meter optical make-up. Sweet.