Home > Mac OS X > Panther Server: Is it Ready for the Enterprise? Panther Server: Is it Ready for the Enterprise? Eugenia Loli 2003-11-27 Mac OS X 34 Comments This week MacWorld is going to show the Panther Server operating system in general, identifying the new tools and structures and offering a closer look at the evolution of the user and share-management tool called Workgroup Manager. About The Author Eugenia Loli Ex-programmer, ex-editor in chief at OSNews.com, now a visual artist/filmmaker. Follow me on Twitter @EugeniaLoli 34 Comments 2003-11-27 6:59 am For enterprise? Hell no, virtually no enterprise apps are supported on OS X. More like a machine for a small workgroup where no one has an idea on how a server should be set up. 2003-11-27 7:27 am Once again, this kobold (btw is the name of dog like creature in D&D, how appropriate !) has the typical technique of a FUDster spreading misinformation without backing it up with any shred of facts Last I checked there was plenty of UNIX industrial strength apps running such as Oracle 9i, Sybase, Apache, JBOSS, MAcromedia JRUN etc and I’m NOT even a MAC user For a more complete info, please look up http://www.apple.com/server/resources/ A close mind is as good as a DEAD mind 2003-11-27 7:33 am Kobold’s post is quite legitimate, and people should not take offense (i see that it’s pending review). when i’m talking about enterprise apps, i’m referring to applications from Oracle, SAP, Siebel, Peoplesoft, etc… are these applications available for OS X? probably not. until they are, a person can certainly argue that OS X is not ready for the enterprise. this applies to both the client and server side of things. 2003-11-27 7:41 am Kobold is a german home spirit. At least, it was before D&D started looking for names to steal. However, it didn’t maul kobolds that bad – some other beings got mutated a lot more (poor Tiamat…). Oracle 9i – there is an client from OS x, but server is still in the works. Apache – runs on everything, no big surprise here JBoss, Macromedia JRun – fine, I am wrong here, some applications now start to appear. But still, the stream is thin. By the way, did you notice that XServe does not support registered and ECC memory? So much for the enterprise… 2003-11-27 7:41 am my previous post was submitted before zamorins was posted, so i didn’t catch his response. anyhow, he makes a good point about the enterprise level server offerings. the products he mentioned after generally database or middleware, but what about pre-packaged and customizable apps? the middleware stuff is only good if you want to roll your own. often times there’s a mix of that, and the pre-packaged stuff (Oracle, SAP, etc…). i suppose OS X can have a place in the enterprise, but until it supports enterprise applications (not infrastructure tools to roll your own) it’s role on the server and client side will be limited. even Linux supports Oracle Applications, of course Oracle is adopting Linux and a preferred platform. OS X needs to get that kind of support. 2003-11-27 7:43 am apple’s sticker price isn’t so high for the “enterprise”… let’s look at what the market leader sun has to offer: http://store.sun.com/catalog/doc/BrowsePage.jhtml?catid=100055 for the click-adverse that’s a sunfire v240 – 2x1ghz ultrasparc, 2GB of memory and 2 36gb high-end scsi drives in a purple box for… $6,500 now for apple: http://store.apple.com/1-800-MY-APPLE/WebObjects/AppleStore.woa/711… that’s a tricked out g5 with 2x2ghz ppc970’s, 2x250gb serial ata drives, 2GB of ram and 10.3 server in a nicer box. sticker price: $5044 so, the mac is $1500 cheaper on the sticker with six times the drive space (although “only” serial ata), the same ram and double the clock speed on the processors (for what that’s worth). bottom line: apple is cheap when you get into the heavy lifting, but you can rackmount the starfire. 2003-11-27 7:47 am Of course it is ready for the enterprise. It shares the same exact applications as a Linux server. The kernal does not scale (number of processors) as far as the linux kernel. You should run commercial UNIX for a large datacenter anyway. Apple is going to have a hard time shaking off its old reputation from the classic (mickey mouse) OS days. MS had the same problem just a few years ago with its DOS based windows 9x ,Yuck!. I just got COLDFUSION running on my OSX system with Tomcat for development and testing. I can even connect it with a MS SQL Server if I wanted. I am free from Virtual PC! YAY! 2003-11-27 8:07 am frymaster: Your comparison is wrong. First, SCSI drives are built for speed, not for size, so comparing a machine using SCSI ones with SATA ones is like comparing apples to oranges. Go find a dell server with SATA drives instead. Futhermore, comparing price/raw perfomance of Xserve with Sun hardware is a hint in itself. Just what company is best known for its slow and expensive machines? Sun is definitely the first that comes to my mind. Perosnally, I would recommend comparing XServe to a second-tier vendor (since Apple definitely is not perceived to be in first tier in making servers). Find an Opteron rackmounted machine with (S)ATA drives and then draw your conclusions. 2003-11-27 8:19 am I don’t think that OS X server is enterprise ready, but that’s besides the point. Your IT department will probably first laugh at you if you dare even propose it. Heck, I know sys and network admins having a hard time accepting linux as a reliable enterprise server, talk less of MacOS X. Naa, Apple should concentrate on what they know how to do best, make things look pretty and easy to use for granny and aunt Lucy who is scared of computers but loves her Mac. 🙂 2003-11-27 8:30 am Frymaster, It doesn’t matter. FUDster like kobold will always find faults with things that doesn’t agree with him. First he talks abt lack of software then he moves on to ECC memory and SATA/SCSI issues. You see the trend here? Vinh, I have asked my Mac using workers and he’s demonstrated Oracle 9i database server running on a G3 blueberry iMAC ! Performance is not fast but it works. He’s even running Oracle Financial on it !!! The reason Oracle has not officially release it was they wanted to fully iron out the bugs. What DAN said is true, still a lot of people with wrong perception of MAC OS X. This the NEW rock solid OS with UNIX underpining A close mind is a DEAD mind 2003-11-27 9:27 am Actually anonymous you should be very careful when equating your highschool IT department with how a real IT department is run and how purchashing decisions are made, all of which you have not idea about. Linux is indeed now widely accepted in the market place, for one IBM is full blown behind it. And even DELL who used to be 100% wintel is now offering Linux solutions. Whether that is good/bad is debatable, I am more of a BSD person myself. But Linux can now be deployed, and you can get a vendor like IBM to support it. 2003-11-27 9:53 am OK, Apple’s hardware is cheaper than Sun’s hardware but PC hardware is even cheaper… And if you are interested in running Apache, Tomcat, Oracle, etc you can run them in a linux PC. In server arena Apple has no advantage because cosmetic features and beautiful graphics aren’t important for servers. Why use closed hardware made by only one maker to run free software or proprietary software not exclusive for that platform ? 2003-11-27 10:35 am Now Panther is ready for the ENTERPRISE? Maybe the Star Trek Enterprise… or the space shuttle Enterprise… or the aircraft carrier Enterprise but certainly not the business ENTERPRISE. Panther’s business-centric feature set pales in comparison to what other companies offer such as Solaris and Windows Server 2003. One review said that many of Panther’s business features don’t even work yet… they are just UI mockups. And you just have to LICK YOUR LIPS over that non-ECC RAM Apple supports in their ENTERPRISE server. You can’t run any serious database software or other application on a server that doesn’t support ECC RAM. For other hardware…. we won’t mention Apple’s retarded Xserve RAID that due to the vertical mount of their drives, cuts the expected lifespan in half. And if the Xserve is anything like the iPod, when the cache battery wears out in 18 months, you’ll have to buy a whole new Xserve…. http://www.ipodsdirtysecret.com/ You’ve got to be crazy to even consider Apple for the ENTERPRISE. Apple is mainly a marketing company, not a computer company. 2003-11-27 12:19 pm Clearly, a number of OSNews readers are grossly misinformed about Apple’s server products. Ignore the rhetoric, get the facts, and then decide for yourselves. No server product can be suitable for everyone. Apple is not really targeting enterprise-level operations for now, and so their products fall down a bit there. I know that I couldn’t recommend it within my enterprise for a number of good reasons, based on my seriously researching the XServe and Panther Server to find out what their limitations actually are. Now, one area where I will give Apple full marks, is that they are at least putting in an effort. And I’ll give the reviewer equally full marks for giving the products a thorough run-down instead of a cursory glance (although, of course, this has yet to be seen). 2003-11-27 1:47 pm Why use closed hardware made by only one maker to run free software or proprietary software not exclusive for that platform ? Exactly. I see absolutely no benefit to running anything Apple on the server. Frankly I’d rather take my chances getting locked into MS software rather than getting locked into hardware & software with Apple. 2003-11-27 2:13 pm I want to believe apple has something new to show in the enterprise world, otherwise, why would a company pick apple over Linux? 2003-11-27 3:08 pm Why use closed hardware made by only one maker to run free software or proprietary software not exclusive for that platform ? Exactly. I see absolutely no benefit to running anything Apple on the server. Frankly I’d rather take my chances getting locked into MS software rather than getting locked into hardware & software with Apple. First of all, there doesn’t have to be software lock-in, because these are mostly the same apps and databases that you could use on Linux or another Unix. I agree that Apple does need to show some advantage to get people to consider them, and I think the advantage is in cost. Most people here rant on about your ability to buy a slightly cheaper Dell box, or how you can just build something yourself. But the total cost includes software licenses also, and Windows Server licenses for unlimited users are much more expensive than Panther Server. Surprisingly, commercial Linux is expensive also. Linux does have the cost advantage when you completely roll your own system, but is that the way the ‘enterprise’ does it? In addition, Panther Server includes Quicktime Streaming Server, and WebObjects deployment. Check out the iTunes Music Store. It works, and the point is that you are receiving something for your money. It may not be the way you want to go, but I believe there is value there for certain applications. 2003-11-27 3:51 pm I agree that Apple does need to show some advantage to get people to consider them, and I think the advantage is in cost. Most people here rant on about your ability to buy a slightly cheaper Dell box, or how you can just build something yourself. But the total cost includes software licenses also, and Windows Server licenses for unlimited users are much more expensive than Panther Server. Surprisingly, commercial Linux is expensive also. ——————— not so.. unless things have changed lately. In our department we have ordered Dell servers that are mid-range, meaning 4000 to a high-end server with no OS installed. We popped in our red hat 7.3. cd s and begain the intall, configured it and have a fully functional server… In any case, i personally don’t believe the Panther os is ready for enterprise. If you look at its OS its aimed mostly at people who don’t want to hassle with the OS, just pop in the CD and let it install and you begin using it. IMHO, Panther is stable compared PREVIOUS versions of the mac OS. But not truly stable for enterprise. 2003-11-27 4:24 pm Red Hat’s Enterprise Linux family of operating systems is available on a per-system, annual subscription basis. The subscriptions are offered in three editions: Basic, Standard, and Premium — each with varying support levels and delivery options — so you can choose the subscription combination that best meets the needs of your business. http://www.redhat.com/software/rhel/purchase/index.html I don’t know enough about RedHat’s licensing to know if they consider multiple installs from the same disc legal, and 7 is not supported any longer. Not a criticism. As I said, Linux is available for free. I’m just comparing what’s available commercially with OS X, and I think it compares favorably. 2003-11-27 5:55 pm I’m impressed at how quickly this debate has come up for MacOSX Server. Of course MacOSX for enterprise purposes would be a natural development for it, but take a look at how long it took Linux to get there from kernel 2.0 to kernel 2.6, and you also have to take linux based enterprise tools in account, which just now are shaping up with help from bigger companies. With that said, Linux has of course been developed from scratch, where OSX had an existing foundation to build on. But it sure looks like Apple has quickly learned to play with the big boys now. Let’s see where MacOSX Server is in a year or two. 2003-11-27 10:56 pm What about support ? If you go RedHat on the low end or Sun and IBM on the high end you are certain you’re going to get quality support by unix professionals. Will Apple profide the same ? Possibly, but who’s going to chance it (possibly risking their own risking their own reputation in the process) ? 2003-11-27 11:58 pm You might want to check out: http://www.apple.com/xserve/support.html I seem to remember a review mentioning that Apple’s support sits very favourably… There does seem to be a lot of ‘speculation’ posed in these Apple debates – such speculation seems to be often based on *prior* misgivings rather than on *current* facts. As for proprietory hardware – let’s stop the FUD on this one. Enterprises are not home users and have different concerns. Is not Sun’s hardware proprietory – why do we not hear the same complaints for theirs?! Clearly, Sun offers a great product which includes their muscle behind the Enterprise client. Either way businesses and the like will way up the costs/advantages of a total package and take the one that suits their needs (including costs) the best. Virginia Tech, for example, chose the Mac for their Super Computer Cluster for this exact reason because they found it cheaper and more favourable than a similarly stacked Linux solution. So clearly, Apple does offer a favourable price for such large outfits. Comparing home boxes to Enterprise Solutions is a misnomer. 2003-11-28 1:34 am As for proprietory hardware – let’s stop the FUD on this one……. Yeah, and Sun isn’t doing to well lately….wonder why? http://www.computerworld.com/hardwaretopics/hardware/server/story/0… Virginia Tech, for example, chose the Mac for their Super Computer Cluster for this exact reason because they found it cheaper and more favourable than a similarly stacked Linux solution. ONE major organizations rolls out a major Mac system, so it MUST be enterprise ready……right. 2003-11-28 4:13 am If what you’re saying about the VTech thing is so representative of whatever you’re trying to show, then explain the many other linux clusters on that same list. 2003-11-28 4:39 am to the attributes of Panther server actually used it? I mean really… from a few comments here it is pretty obvious that most haven’t. Panther server has a few similiarities to Panther, but when you are running the server tools it really shines. Get some experience with it before you bash it. 2003-11-28 6:27 am Typical dumb trolling… “Panther’s business-centric feature set pales in comparison to what other companies offer such as Solaris and Windows Server 2003.” Like what? “One review said that many of Panther’s business features don’t even work yet… they are just UI mockups.” What reviewer? What doesn’t work? WHAT? “And you just have to LICK YOUR LIPS over that non-ECC RAM Apple supports in their ENTERPRISE server. You can’t run any serious database software or other application on a server that doesn’t support ECC RAM.” OLD news, U.S. Navy, VT and Human Genome Project, NIH and for many other places doing mission critical work its not a problem. “For other hardware…. we won’t mention Apple’s retarded Xserve RAID that due to the vertical mount of their drives, cuts the expected lifespan in half.” Lots of other server vendors do this and if you know how to use Google a vertical stand can be found for the XServe RAID. Are the trolls here at OS News this dumb? 2003-11-28 6:40 am “Are the trolls here at OS News this dumb?” Yes. 2003-11-28 8:23 am “Panther’s business-centric feature set pales in comparison to what other companies offer such as Solaris and Windows Server 2003.” Like what? Exchange. 2003-11-28 8:40 am Have nothing to do with the cost. If you’re really buying for the enterprise, it’s fairly competitive (and as soon as we get a G5 Xserve, will be even more so). No, the problems are more to do with lack of features, probably due to immaturity in the market. For example: * No ECC RAM * No onboard hardware RAID * No SCSI option (regardless of what IDE evangelists will try to tell you, in some scenarios SCSI is *still* boatloads faster). * No redundant power supplies * Upgradeability problems (used to be you couldn’t officially upgrade an Xserve’s CPU(s) – this may have changed) * Slow hardware * Nothing better than a dual G4 I suspect the G5 Xserve – which will probably appear Q104 – will fix most of these issues (although I’m willing to bet Apple won’t offer onboard RAID and SCSI options, unfortunately). The other aspect of “enterprise computing” lacking is, of course, the software. Still no major database (although Oracle shouldn’t be much longer) and nothing to compare to Exchange. Personally, I hope Apple try to make an Exhange-killer – I’d *love* to see that. Another issue worth considering – although one I am unfamiliar with on the platform (we ruled out Xserves before getting to this point for the reasons above) – is that of backups. How does OS X fare for good backup software like Legato or Tivoli ? How about backup hardware like tape drives ? 2003-11-28 8:58 am The discussion was whether OS X was ready for the Enterprise. Not whether OS X was going to take over the Enterprise to the exclusion of Linux and Windows Server 2003. The reality is that Apple although not marketing as such has been making significant progress in allowing OS X Server to interoperate in among Windows proprietary solutions and Open Source solutions for Linux, Windows and OS X. Its core is Darwin after all and Apple has adopted many of the same Open Source technologies that current admins are using on their linux boxes. (In fact, Apple is one of the largest contributors to the Open Source community.) And you have the same way of accessing them through the command line (you can use the GUI if you prefer.) OS X is not handicapped in any way. Download the source and build the App yourself if you prefer, but again you don’t have to. As far as what do they offer that may have additional appeal to an Enterprise, well they are a hardware company after all and a vertically integrated server has its appeal, especially if you are not locked into it. Sure you hard core admins can’t see yourself Installing an xServe and just turning it on without having to install the OS from scratch, maybe building it yourself from source. Well that’s fine, you can do that with the xServe box as well since a few of the Linux builds work just fine on the xServe G4’s and two were just released for the PowerMac G5’s. So no lock in. That is one of the fears resolved. As far as Enterprise Apps, well whatever you can do with Linux and Unix you can do with OS X. The GUI shouldn’t matter to you since you don’t care for it anyway. But for some of us its nice to know there are native Aqua builds as well as easy to use management apps. You want Java Enterprise Apps, you have JBOSS, you want the leading Java development environment, Eclipse works just fine and lets not forget the NeXT derived WebObjects which is still considered one of the best IDE’s ever developed and which others are striving to emulate. Yes, you can develop on WebObjects and deploy on Linux, Sun, Windows Servers, etc. Panther can act as the UN of OS’s, allowing you to centralize user management among the various platforms. And, since cost is important to many of us, compared to Windows Server Licensing, it is way cheaper. And even when compared to Linux support licensing, you are on even footing. Server wise, Apple xServe has consistently offered one of the best prices for 1U systems, as Virginia Tech demonstrated the G5 is even the best priced for large scale deployments for the power you get. And, xServe Raid is one of the current best priced/performance JBOD solutions. IDE may turn some of you off, but remember, old IDE was a subset of SCSI, and SCSI was developed to use cheaper drives than the IBM Enterprise DASD units. Now IDE has matured to allow for similar performance and features and depending on the drive similar reliability of SCSI, though at much cheaper prices. It’s evolution. Look at the performance matrix and you’ll see Apple’s solution beats many a SCSI solution. Oh, and its a Fiber Channel based interface that works with all the popular SAN switches. You connect to the xServe via FC as well. Did we mention the easy clustering and GRID software that runs on OS X? There is a lot more. Mark Twain wrote: “Change never happens at the core, it happens at the fringes.” Well thats true. And an open minded IT department who is concerned about supporting the business needs of their enterprise would not dismiss a fringe solution, since it may be the kind of change that it needs to succeed in a always constraining budgetary environment. 2003-11-28 9:49 am ECC RAM doesn’t fix problems it only helps to identify them, so the process can fail instead of finishing with bad results. Error Checking and Correcting A well designed App does not rely on ECC RAM to catch data corruption, but uses well designed algorithmic checks. Ah, the idea of ECC is to fix *hardware errors* that software can’t reliably detect. [i]Well its a 1U system with each of the 4 drives having a dedicated channel in parallel with the ability to enable software RAID. So it is still a fast solution for the price. Speed isn’t the issue, reliability is. The next step up is an inexpensive 2Gb Fiber Channel solution to an external SAN switch or Apple’s own inexpensive but pretty snappy hardware raided JBOD. The XRaID is well-priced for what it is, but it is not by any measure “inexpensive”. If all I need is a few dozen gigs of hardware-protected disk space, ten grand (Australian $) and 3U is a lot to pay for it. There’s a lot of applications that require hardware redundancy that don’t need hundreds of gigs of space. Most other name-brand 1U systems on the market have a hardware RAID option. Even the dirt cheap Dells. Again, Apple offers a more advanced FC solution with an overall lower price/performance ratio. Of course their exists FC-SCSI solutions to work with legacy devices. And, again, it’s a hell of a lot of extra money to pay if you only need performance and not boatloads of space. Added to that, the XRAID is *still* based on IDE technology, even if the interconnect is FC. Yep, but for the price of a fully redundand 1U server, you can get two xServes. Hmmm. But, it would be nice to have this feature to broaden its appeal. A redundant power supply usually adds about $400 (AU) – I’d like to know where you’re going to buy an Xserve for that. And that’s before accounting for the extra costs involved in adminstering another whole system – assuming whatever you’re using it for can even be configured to cluster. That’s just a Myth, Network World ran some benchmarks that put the xServe near the top of the heap. And price/performance wise it is very competitive if not the leader. In one particular benchmark, some time ago. The rest of the world’s 1U hardware has moved on – significantly – since then. The Xserve has not. I like the Xserve, I really do – it’s just these few flaws I consider to be important. I remain confident most of them will be addressed in the new Xserve. Except the hardware RAID and SCSI – I suspect someone at Apple has climbed onto a wagon and isn’t going to budge – which is, as I said, unfortunate. 2003-11-28 9:52 pm Of enterprises are mini or medium-sized. They have absolutely no use for Oracle, SAP or Peoplesoft software. They have no IT department, or it is extremely reduced. They need a good server, at a good price, with good support, easy to set up. Panther server may fit in for them. 2003-11-29 4:23 pm Remember, when pricing Sun systems, you get Solaris 8. You may not need this OS security features or scalability, but, someone buying Sun probably Does and is willing to pay for it. Check out Aceshardware for some new on Solaris X. http://www.aceshardware.com. Secondly, Sun may be at the bottom of it’s hardware development curve NOW, but next year may be very different when their new designs kick in. So, a buyer may still want Sun hardware today, to make for an easy transition to Sun hardware tomorrow. I like the idea of OS X in general, still, I to want ECC Ram. 1 Cosmic ray hit a month probably isn’t important for most servers, but every application failure is just more work for me to debug. So, Apple please add an ECC Ram option. 2003-11-30 9:33 am It may not be the place, but one wonders why stingerman’s post has been moderated!