Macworld attracts enterprise vendors

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif.--As Apple Computer CEO Steve Jobs came to the end of his Macworld keynote in San Francisco last week, the audience was positively twitching in anticipation of the unveiling of the new Mac mini, the tiny "headless" desktop offering, about which rumors were flying the week before. He joked with the crowd, saying that he wished he had a nickel for every time someone asked him for a stripped-down Mac.

"We do offer a stripped-down Mac," he said, turning to point to the screen behind him. "There are some of them right there." The screen displayed a shot of Virginia Tech's System X supercomputer, considered the fastest in the world, which was built with Apple's Xserve G5 1U rackmount servers.

The crowd laughed and Jobs moved on, but the moment underscored Apple's interest in promoting its products as enterprise-worthy technology. This year's conference reflected that interest. Macworld organizer IDG World Expo included a "MacIT" track for the second year in a row, specifically targeting enterprise Mac developers. And the exhibit floor attracted a range of enterprise-oriented vendors reaching out to the Mac faithful.

Although exact numbers were not available at press time, IDG conference chair Paul Kent told eADT before the show that he expected more than 250 exhibitors to set up on the Moscone show floor this year. Here are a few of the announcements from enterprise-focused vendors who exhibited at this year's event:

Sybase demoed a new release of its Adaptive Server Enterprise at the show, updated for the Mac OS X Server 10.3. The Dublin, Calif.-based company's enterprise-class relational database management system is designed to provide enterprises with a high-performance system for data and transaction processing. It includes built-in self-management tools, wizards to automate routine tasks, advanced XML and Web services support, and real-time message services when used with the Sybase Real-Time Data Services package.

Austin, Texas-based grid solutions provider United Devices previewed a beta release of the 4.2 version of its Grid MP Enterprise, a suite of tools and technologies used to aggregate networked computing resources to create an enterprise grid. This is the first release of Grid MP to support Mac OS X, the company says. Other operating systems supported by Grid MP include Windows, Solaris, AIX, and Linux. Also new in this release is integration with identity management systems and other management features.

Venerable database software maker and Apple subsidiary FileMaker Inc. released a major update at the show. FileMaker Recruiter 2.0 is an updated version of the FileMaker Pro application developed for professional personnel recruiters. Also, FileMaker's JDBC update brings the xDBC plug-in and JDBC client driver to Mac OS X. Mac users can now employ FileMaker products as JDBC data sources for sharing information.

NetXposure Inc. launched the latest version of its Image Portal X at the show. The Web-based digital asset management (DAM) solution built specifically for Mac OS X is designed to provide creative and marketing pros with a centralized repository to store, organize, repurpose, and distribute large libraries of digital files. The Portland, Oregon-based company is also at work on a DAM app that leverages Mac OS X Tiger's Core Image and Core Video technology to accelerate filtering and processing. Search and indexing will also be enhanced with the use of Spotlight technology, the company said. That app is expected to ship in the first half of 2005.

Broadband gateway vendor Netopia previewed the 8.0 version of its Timbuktu Pro software at the show. Timbuktu Pro is remote control software for the Mac OS designed to enable network administrators and IT managers to control distant computers and send files, instant messages, and voice intercom over any LAN, WAN, Internet, or direct-dial connection. This latest version of the Emeryville, Calif.-based company's Timbuktu Pro comes with new features designed to increase functionality and security while working with Apple programs.

Information Appliance Associates, the La Jolla, Calif.-based inventors of the PocketMac product line, showcased its PocketMac for BlackBerry, a sync solution for Research In Motion's ubiquitous handheld device.

ISAMET Inc. unveiled a test version of its Mulberry cross-platform e-mail client app. Mulberry 4.0 is compatible with Mac OS X and Windows, and Solaris and Linux versions are expected later this year. Based in Pittsburgh, Penn., ISAMET is a new company formed by a merger of Cyrusoft International and Information Security Engineering Lab. Its Mulberry client application features enterprise calendaring and scheduling functionality with support for local, http/webcal and WebDAV-based calendaring; full Unicode support, including two-bit script support, configurable toolbars, updated icons, a quick-search option in the mailbox pane and more.

InfiniCon Systems, a provider of integrated solutions for designing InfiniBand fabrics, and Mac networking specialist Small Tree Communications announced a partnership at this year's show to bring a suite of InfiniBand products to the Mac platform. InfiniBand is the same high-speed networking technology used by Virginia Tech's supercomputer. The product suite includes managed switches, fiber channel and ethernet gateways, high-performance host Upper Layer Protocols, and fabric management solutions optimized for Mac OS X. The two companies, based in King of Prussia, Penn., and Woodbury, Minn., respectively, expect the products to interest enterprises and other organizations looking to deploy High Performance Computing or supercomputing solutions on Mac OS X.

About the Author

John K. Waters is a freelance writer based in Silicon Valley. He can be reached at [email protected].

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