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iPhone 2.0: Exchange vs Leopard Server

Leopard Server iPhone
Daniel Eran Dilger
Is Apple’s announcement of Exchange Server support in the upcoming iPhone 2.0 software an admission of failure for the company’s apparent plans to push its own Exchange alternative in Mac OS X Leopard Server? Reader Pete Wann asked the question; here’s what I think about it.

Is Leopard Server Being Pushed Aside to Support Exchange?
Mac OS X Leopard is, Wann wrote, “clearly targeted at small and medium sized business who are looking to achieve some of the functionality that Exchange provides, but without dropping the major coin required for Exchange and client licenses. It seems to me that Apple is missing the killer app for selling more Xserves, more iPhones, and getting their foot in the door of medium sized enterprises that might be looking to switch to Mac if they don’t offer similar functionality on OS X Server as what’s being created for Exchange.”

Wann notes that “so far, Apple has not indicated that OS X Server will offer any of the over-the-air push e-mail (although it does support IMAP idle, and so presumably push e-mail), live calendar updating, or live contact updating functionality that will soon be available with Exchange.”

“Doesn’t it follow that making this functionality available to small and medium-sized enterprises would make Apple a much stronger player in that space, since the inherently lower cost of implementation of OS X and Xserve (in licensing costs alone) would be a pretty strong value proposition when compared against Exchange and/or Exchange+Blackberry Enterprise Server?”

Leopard Server’s Assault on Expensive Server Software.
Apple does offer a major cost savings over Windows, particularly in the server realm. In the desktop arena, Apple sells Mac OS X Leopard for $130 at retail, compared to Windows Vista, which retails for $320. Most users don’t pay for Windows however; its simply on their new PC at no obvious additional cost. Microsoft raised Windows’ prices across the board with Vista, but soft retail sales forced it to discount those prices.

In the server arena however, Apple’s Leopard Server, which retails for $499 and $999 in its 10 client or unlimited client versions, is bundled at no charge on Apple’s Xserve hardware. PC makers can’t bundle Windows Server for free or include it at an invisible OEM price. On top of the server hardware costs, which are roughly the same between PCs and Apple’s Xserves, Windows Server 2008 costs an additional $1000 for the base OS licensed for five users. Every additional server user requires another Client Access Licenses, which cost $700 per 20 user pack.

Windows Server doesn’t include email though. You’ll have to add another $700 for the standard version of Exchange Server 2007, and buy additional Exchange Client Access Licenses for each user; they cost $1340 per 20 user pack. Just to serve files and email to a hundred users costs a Microsoft shop $12,400 in software alone. Adding another 100 users costs $10,700 more.

 Rd Images Unknown

Apple’s Open Calendar Server vs Microsoft Exchange

Inspiring Server-Side Switchers.
Adding database or web hosting services cost additional fees for the server and for client access licenses for a Microsoft shop; Upgrading to a new version of any Windows Server requires buying upgraded client access licensees as well. Apple bundles email, calendar, database and web application services at the same price, and doesn’t charge client access licenses.

That huge difference in software prices is pushing IT staff to look at the alternatives. Shani Magosky, the chief operating officer at Jaffe Associates, a 25-person marketing and public relations firm, was cited in a report examining the costs Microsoft shops face.
Magosky’s company was evaluating a move to Microsoft’s SharePoint. The cost of the server, software licenses, and support would have cost $100,000. “They nickel and dime you,” Magosky said of Microsoft, before outlining that her company is moving to Xserves and Mac clients, in part to escape client access license fees on the server side, and in part to get better built client hardware that doesn’t suffer from “the tons malware” in the Windows world.

Microsoft does offer volume licensing discounts, but its software licensing costs still add up rapidly anyway you slice it. Apple markets Leopard Server as a reason to buy its server hardware, and markets the vast savings over a Microsoft-based solution as a compelling reason to Leopard Server in place of a PC server that costs roughly the same in terms of hardware.

A more enterprise-friendly Apple? Reseller News

Priorities and Potential.
However, Apple is relatively new to the enterprise business market; it has been focusing primarily upon home, small office, and education users that have historically been Apple’s core business. The majority of Apple’s server business is in higher education institutions and in companies related to video production, rather than the medium and larger businesses that buy into Exchange Server, IIS, BizTalk, SQL Server, ISA Server, and other Windows products, each of which involves its own small fortune in per user client access license demands.

Apple’s ability to push into the cubical office has been limited by a number of factors. With so much low hanging fruit in the poorly served desktop and consumer electronics arenas, Apple has had little reason to prioritize its efforts to reeducate IT staff and convert sales of enterprise customers from Windows to Mac. Apple has explained its consumer-centric strategy in comments that point out that not only is the consumer market larger than the enterprise in terms of hardware sales, but that Apple can more effectively reach individual consumers with the information that will cause them to decide to investigate alternatives.

In enterprise markets, buying decisions are made by a small number of influencers, many of whom Microsoft has indoctrinated into a close following and are loath to investigate any alternatives, no matter what the advantages in cost, security, reliability, or simplicity Apple could offer them. Really, Apple’s best bet to push its way into the enterprise is to appeal to executives as individuals, who then pressure their companies to make changes and support Apple’s products. The Mac and iPhone have been successfully making progress along those lines, particularly over the last year.

Investment and Payback.
Ideally, Apple could focus its efforts on linking up Leopard Server with the iPhone and offer a cost effective package that offered over the air calendar and contact syncing, push email, and remote revocation features of its own, without requiring Exchange Server. There are five market realities that burst this bubble of potential however:

1. Apple has limited reach into enterprise markets. As already noted, Apple only has a significant large scale presence primarily in education institutions. Even among those customers, few have the freedom, interest, or ability to buy into a new messaging server architecture based upon Leopard Server. Most are already running Unix-based email services, Lotus Notes, Exchange Server, or some other proprietary messaging service, making migration to any new system a tough sell at any price.

2. Leopard Server isn’t a functionally complete alternative. While Leopard Server offers some clear advantages over Windows Server in cost, it also has some disadvantages in maturity, particularly with its brand new Calendar Server. It also is still developing its Open Directory infrastructure related to directory services. Apple’s growing influence in higher education along with Apple’s own internal corporate use are helping to fill out Leopard Server as a product, but it still can’t be viewed as a flawless drop in replacement for Windows Server deployments across the board.

While the company’s efforts have been focused on delivering a highly competitive desktop system to drive Mac sales, the greater barriers faced in enterprise sales have prevented a similar investment and focus on its server product. Apple is rapidly catching up in several respects however. Leopard Server is now certified as Unix, making it an attractive (and salable) alternative in government markets; it leads Windows Server in its implementation of 64-bit computing, offering direct compatibility with Linux, IRIX, and other commercial Unix servers; and Apple has proven its ability to deliver both major and minor updates more frequently than Microsoft within the server market as well as on the desktop.

There’s still progress to be made. Apple has described its server platform as a building in progress. Over the last several releases, Mac OS X Server has established a foundation for new services. Starting with Leopard and continuing in future releases, Apple is now building upon that foundation with services relevant to its business customers. In Leopard, that includes both the new Calendar Server and Podcast Producer for managing video production workflows. Even so, businesses that have invested big in Exchange Server can’t simply drop it to plug in an Xserve running Leopard Server.

3. Leopard Server iPhone integration would take significant effort. The newness of Calendar Server means iPhone integration would still be a ways out, even if the company focused on delivering it as a priority. Given the small market immediately available to Leopard Server, the small installed base of Leopard Server users desiring iPhone integration, and the scant number of iPhone users needing Leopard Server integration, setting that as a priority makes no sense. Continuing to work on its own tools while first supporting Exchange does.

Using iPhone: iCal, CalDAV Calendar Servers, and Mac OS X Leopard

4. Exchange Server support is a popular feature demanded for the iPhone. In contrast, there are lots of Exchange Server installations in Mac-heavy businesses and in higher education. Conversely, iPhone users are more likely to run into problems in accessing corporate email due to Exchange’s reliance on proprietary email protocols rather than Internet standards such as IMAP. Many Exchange administrators even view IMAP as a security problem due to Microsoft’s weakly supported implementation.

Microsoft encourages its users to instead use ActiveSync to talk to mobile devices, since Palm and Windows Mobile devices supporting ActiveSync pay Microsoft licensing revenues it would not earn were it to support open industry standards. There is also no proprietary leverage available when supporting interoperable open standards such as IMAP.

In itself, this makes Apple’s support for ActiveSync important to its customers. I noted earlier that Apple already offers some support for Exchange Server synchronization in Mac OS X’s Address Book and in Mail. However, Apple’s licensing of ActiveSync and implementing Microsoft’s proprietary conduits on the iPhone directly gives Windows Enthusiast IT administrations the safe feeling that they are buying a Microsoft approved product. It also lulls to sleep the Windows Enthusiast pundits like Rob Enderle, who are crying out about imagined crises facing any mobile users who do not have some tether to Microsoft’s products.

Why Dan Frommer and Scott Moritz Are Wrong on iPhone Sales: It’ll Be the Death of You

5. Exchange Support uses Microsoft as an ally against RIM. In the messaging server space, Microsoft trails RIM in terms of push email. Microsoft’s own attempts to enter and take over the business of push messaging has largely been a failure. That has resulted in a desperation that pushes Microsoft to tie its own, fledgling push email services to its established Exchange Server business as a “first one is free” loss leader product. Once ActiveSync gains the upper hand, expect licensing fees to follow.

RIM sells its BlackBerry Enterprise Server as an add on that installs on an Exchange Server (or other email servers) and relays messages to BlackBerry devices via its Canadian Network Operations Center. RIM charges annual licensing fees for BES, and also charges companies that use its relay service per user. That licensing and service revenue is what’s delivering RIM phenomenal profits. RIM’s NOC outages are also outing its business model as full of weak links with single points of failure.

Since Microsoft owns Exchange, it can integrate its own solution that talks to mobile devices directly; that’s what ActiveSync does. It borrows Exchange Server’s Outlook Web service to push messages to mobiles as well as issue remote wipe and revocation commands in the case of theft or other loss. The product would also neatly cut RIM out of the push email relay business, if only it could find wide adoption.

For Apple to partner with RIM, it would have to pay the company fees to push messages to iPhones. However, with Microsoft’s simpler ActiveSync, Apple can instead talk to the server directly using the iPhone 2.0 software, and not incur any relay service fees. Microsoft is delighted to have iPhones using its direct system, as it serves as an endorsement for ActiveSync from North America’s most popular smartphone and delivers a competitive dent in the business RIM has and which Microsoft wants to monopolize.

iPhone BES RIM

AppleInsider | Apple’s iPhone takes on the Enterprise

The Dangerous Dance of Partnering With Microsoft.
Those factors all add up to make it obvious why Apple is prioritizing its investment in Exchange Server support over its own Leopard Server product. However, such support isn’t exclusive, nor it is dependent upon Microsoft. As noted in my historical overview of the relationship between Apple and Microsoft in software, Apple has regularly found itself at the wrong end of Microsoft’s leverage at critical points.
Apple’s contracting with Microsoft to deliver AppleSoft BASIC for the Apple II resulted in Microsoft demanding that Apple later kill its own MacBASIC product or risk having its ongoing contract terminated at a very inopportune time.

AppleInsider | An Introductory Mac OS X Leopard Review: Developer Tools

Apple’s partnering with Microsoft to premier Excel on the Macintosh resulted in a shotgun deal that forced Apple to give Microsoft a free license to copy the Mac’s unique desktop innovations. Microsoft then used that to port Excel to IBM’s PC using a copycat desktop environment called Windows.

Office Wars 3 – How Microsoft Got Its Office Monopoly
Office Wars 4 – Microsoft’s Assault on Lotus and IBM

Reliance on Microsoft to provide the Mac’s productivity software allowed Microsoft the ability to cut off Apple’s oxygen supply in 1993 just as Windows 95 was ramping up, diverting Mac Office users to Microsoft’s own platform. Microsoft didn’t release a new version of Office until Apple compelled it to commit to doing so in 1997, using leverage of its own involving the suit against Microsoft’s earlier theft of QuickTime technology related to San Francisco Canyon.

Mac Office, $150 Million, and the Story Nobody Covered
Microsoft’s Plot to Kill QuickTime

Partnering with Microsoft to deliver the Mac’s web browser worked fine until Microsoft satisfied its own goal in sinking Netscape. After that, Microsoft lost interest in further development of Internet Explorer for Mac and let the product fall into obsolescence, prompting Apple to develop Safari as a browser it could maintain itself.

Apple in the Web Browser Wars: Netscape vs Internet Explorer
The Web Browser Renaissance: Firefox and Safari

So is Apple’s Exchange Server partnership with Microsoft on the iPhone going to lead to similar disaster? In each of the earlier cases, Apple relied on Microsoft to deliver software. Here, Apple is writing its own, only licensing official support from Microsoft. Imagine if Apple had the foresight to instead license the functionality of Excel from Microsoft (or VisiCalc) rather than giving another company the enormous leverage of trust it did in charging Microsoft with the task of writing key software for its platform.

Because Apple controls and owns the software on the iPhone that interacts with Exchange Server, it can later add support for additional messaging server systems, from IBM’s Lotus Notes to its own Mac OS X Server. That flexibility puts the power in Apple’s hands, not Microsoft’s.

iPhone 3.0
In fact, as Apple develops its own Mac OS X Server integration with the iPhone, and develops tight integration with its own .Mac services on a subscription basis, it can wean iPhone users from Exchange Server toward its own products using the powerful incentive of much lower infrastructure and per user costs. However, there won’t be any customers to entice if the iPhone doesn’t first ship support for Exchange.

Filling the Unlocked iPhone Gap with .Mac

By rolling out broad support for a popular messaging server deployed in small and medium sized businesses and many large installations, Apple can break down a major barrier between the iPhone and corporate users. Once it cracks its way into the enterprise market, it can offer its standards-based web platform and its custom iPhone SDK as ways to develop internal applications, further promoting not only Apple’s new mobile WiFi platform in the iPhone and iPod Touch, but also its Cocoa development tools.

That in turn will shine attention upon the Mac as an alternative hardware platform for delivering custom enterprise applications. At least some of those customers will also see value in shedding their tremendous software expenses related to Windows-based solutions and consider a migration to open email and calendar services hosted on Mac OS X Server. So rather than spelling the death of Leopard Server, Apple is giving its server products a shot in the arm by supporting their competition first.

I really like to hear from readers. Comment in the Forum or email me with your ideas.

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  • http://blog.weaverling.org/ weave

    To be fair, Microsoft does offer “SBS” (Small Business Server) which bundles Exchange and SQL server. Not sure what the cost is but I believe it’s a lot cheaper than the ala carte pricing you posted.

    But none of this scales well. I work at a higher education institution and we provide email to 40,000 users on a single Dell dual-processor server with 8 gigs RAM. That same server runs the Horde groupware webapp and a MySQL DB to handle the DB needs of Horde.

    Microsoft tried to convince us to migrate to Exchange for “just employees.” Well their minimal hardware config consisted of two back-end Exchange servers and two front-end ones to support 4,000 users — that’s 10% of the users we support on one server now, a total of whom consume 1.2 TB of stored email right now (we don’t have quotas, disk is cheap, even SAN disk).

    Now granted employees will have a higher demand than students, and Microsoft deeply discounts software for Educational institutions, but even with all of that the cost to do it was prohibitive.

    Oh, and then there’s the two FTE employees that would need to be hired to run the thing, whereas the Linux mail server is managed by at most 0.2 FTE right now.

    So, point of the post is that SBS would be cheaper but it’s like giving crack out for free. To scale it up is going to cost one big time in the end.

  • http://johnsessays.blogspot.com John Muir

    The necessary solution to a chicken and egg kind of problem.

    It’s interesting that Apple had the greater leverage on Microsoft this time. What could Redmond be up to – letting others control their own side of the software – other than short sighted duelling with RIM? They seemed to have the whole maniacal evil thing to a higher level back in the old days. Ah, Gates, we’ll miss him…

  • lehenbauer

    Apple’s been burned so badly by Microsoft that they’ll never let them get a choke-hold on any of their upstream technologies and Microsoft knows it. I can get MS being reluctant to help the iPhone, but they will sell more lucrative Exchange licenses. Apple, meanwhile, has OS X Server that they will continue to develop as an alternative for people who aren’t already in the Microsoft orbit or those looking to depart it.

    OS X Server, by the way, has nowhere near the ease of use of the rest of Apple’s products. We still have to edit XML files and apply UNIX skillz to get stuff to work right. Which ain’t cool (although they are working on it.)

    BTW, Microsoft removed features from Mac Excel 2008 that makes it not work with complicated spreadsheets that ‘2004 handles just fine. That hurts, and I wonder if it’s payback for the “I’m a Mac. I’m a PC.” campaign, or just standard MS playbook retaliation for Apple’s success.

  • dscottbuch

    I hope/don’t believe you are correct by saying “3. Leopard Server iPhone integration would take significant effort. The newness of Calendar Server means iPhone integration would still be a ways out, even if the company focused on delivering it as a priority. ”
    in terms of the effort for Apple. Neither of us can know for sure but given the CalendarServer is working on Leopard Server today (I’ve implemented it on Tiger server and Leopard Client and you’re correct its rough around the edges) and the iCal client on Leopard uses it easily. Given all of the claims of a common code base, the existence of the client connection routines in iCal, the constant network access of the iPhone I would argue that implementation of the calendar sharing/syncing on the iPhone, based on polling (like the current mail implementation) could not be that large a task and would solve the calendar syncing issue for most people. They need to do this in addition to the Active Sync implementation for those of us not using MS server.

  • seth

    What about Google Apps – Calendar/etc? IT would be great to see something in this realm as I think it is a much better alternative for smaller companies

  • Geoff

    The killer app in Exchange is the calendaring functionality. Distributed/open calendaring tools still lack the seamless integration of free/busy/find-free-time capabilities of Exchange. Open Calendaring standards are great cross organizations, but intra-corporate messaging still depends on synchronous meetings.

    That said, the iPhone is the trojan horse into the corporate world. Once you can serve up Exchange to iPhone, why not to iCal and Mail on a desktop? If you can sell an iPhone to a corp leader (the blackberry viral marketing was one CXO to another), get them to push the email/iCal/desktop/iPhone melding into a continuum of ‘always connected,’ Macs in the corporate world make their entry.

    If I can get my Exchange mail and my Gmail(IMAP) mail concurrently on one device in a insanely great manner, as well as my personal and professional schedules being properly intermingled, As a corp IT professional, I can argue for an iPhone to be the P(ersonal&Professional)DA that allows that seamless integration of both lives.

    As a CxO, that will drive me to get an iPhone, and likely a Mac as business toolset, and expect my team to follow. Growth will come from the top, or by division. If Apple scores some differentiating wins (say the next Wall Street Darling can show ROI on mac investments), it will be all over, and Mac now becomes the migratory standard of the 201x decade, like Microsoft was in the 90’s.

  • gus2000

    Even if Apple’s evil plan (“Mu ha ha ha!”) was to take over the world with a ready-to-go OSX server, there still needs to be a migration path for users. The iPhone is ideal in that regard.

    However, don’t underestimate Microsoft’s ability to turn the tables on their partners. If this unholy alliance were to destroy RIM, then Microsoft would make a new Exchange server that was incompatible with the iPhone (much like they used Zune against their PlaysForSure partners). The key for Apple is to have OSX Server ready before then, so that Microsoft’s monopolistic arm-twisting will only result in lost customers instead of increased subservience.

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  • http://homepage.mac.com/lunaticsx/ LunaticSX

    It’d be cool to see Apple develop a fully-compatible cross-platform drop-in replacement for Exchange Server, like the way iTunes is cross-platform. It’d give cost savings by not requiring client access licenses, and probably by having reduced hardwre requirements. It could facilitate the entry of more Xserves in business similar to the way Apple’s laptops are being adopted by people who are buying them to install and run Windows XP as a primary OS: They’re really good, competitively-priced hardware that are “future proof” by being able to run ALL software. A cross-platform Apple-developed fully-compatible Exchange server would be a great wedge: When an IT department needs to add more capacity, first they try Apple’s software solution on a single generic PC server, since it’s cheaper and more efficient. They like it, so the next time they need to buy a server they consider buying an Xserve instead of a generic PC server, since it comes with a licensed copy of Apple’s Exchange-compatible software, reducing their costs. Then the trick is that Apple’s Xserves ALSO come with OTHER software such as Podcast Producer, etc. for no extra charge, that generic PC servers and Microsoft’s Windows Server don’t include. Some IT people love to tinker, so they’l quickly find these and see how much more can be done with Apple’s offerings. (Anecdote: As I was rising in the ranks of my last company I got them to buy me the first ever Mac bought by the company [a sunflower/lamp iMac]. The IT who set it up had never used Macs before, and was so impressed he became a convert. When the first Mac Minis came out I aked the IT department if they’d buy some for my staff, and they agreed without hesitation–especially since they were about $200 cheaper per computer than the generic PCs they normally bought for employees.)

    I’d consider a significant stumbling block to this idea, though, to be the limited resources within Apple available to work on it. Engineering at Apple is clearly already stretched thin as witnessed by the delay to Leopard caused by the iPhone, and the length of time it’s taken and will take them to develop and finish the iPhone SDK.

  • addicted44

    Because of the regulatory scrutiny MS is receiving (especially in the EU) I doubt they will be able to screw Apple over with ActiveSync licensing.

    Unfortunately for Apple, I really doubt they have much of a future in the Enterprise server market. Companies with a dedicated team to manage their IT are far more likely, IMO to switch to Linux, than OSX. However, for small companies, Leopard Server seems ideal. If only they would improve the ease of use though…

  • jb

    Has anyone used Chandler?


    “Chandler consists of a desktop application and Chandler Hub, a sharing service and web application. Chandler is open source and standards-based.”

    The Web based calander syncs with my iCal, and my brothers and sisters who use Windows software either use the Web client, or the Chandler Desktop App. How do you think does this piece fits into the puzzle of trying to get people weaned of Exchange/Outlook for group calanders and messaging?

  • tundraboy

    Not a tech so can’t go into the nitty gritties, but I do believe that Apple is looking at the enterprise market as an over-the-horizon growth area, something to move into once they’ve pretty much exhausted the consumer, education, entertainment, and creative professional markets. I can almost see Steve Jobs plotting just exactly how he will formally launch his full scale assault on enterprise computing after having surrounded it through the total saturation of the non-enterprise market. It will be the most seamless large-scale platform transition ever, made possible by Apple’s demonstrated expertise in managing platform switches and what I expect would be, by then, ubiquitous familiarity with Apple’s OS.

    I really admire the patient, generational approach that Apple is taking. Today’s college students will be tomorrow’s executives and managers. In the same way that the young adults buying Corollas twenty years ago are now the affluent peak-career types who are buying Lexuses and and Land Cruisers.

    Also, it doesn’t hurt that the rise of Web 2.0 is bringing about increased OS-agnosticism.

  • http://johnsessays.blogspot.com John Muir

    @ tundraboy

    Now there’s the truth!

    It was the 24-7 internet experience which allowed me to migrate five years ago – not to mention the hell of maintenance and a bad system build too far – before even the iPod had really made it big in these parts. Apple’s big picture has been building for at least twice that long. It really is quite something what they’re up to, if you take a step back to look at it.

    Something Daniel seems to also like to do.

  • beanie

    Daniel Eran Dilger wrote:
    “Apple’s own internal corporate use are helping to fill out Leopard Server as a product”

    Seems Apple use of their own server is limited. Looking up Apple’s server usage on netcraft.com:

    Apple uses Apache (UNIX or Darwin) on Solaris 8 for itunes.com and store.apple.com and phobos.itunes.com (iTunes’ music server).

    Apple uses Apache (Darwin) on Unknown OS for Apple.com homepage and developer.apple.com.

    Apple uses Apache (Darwin) on MacOSX for docs.info.apple.com and support.apple.com and lists.apple.com.

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  • labrats5

    Hmm, it is very interesting how Apple seems to have a much better deal with Microsoft than it has had in the past. However, as noted by others, Microsoft is famous for turning the tables. If Exchange becomes dominant and then Microsoft cuts off iphone support, Apple might be screwed. What they need to do is make it impossible for Microsoft to ever even consider doing that. Exchange is only one killer app. If the iphone OS becomes de facto for smart phone business apps, microsoft simply won’t have the leverage to screw Apple over.

    I cannot overstate the importance of 3rd party apps in establishing the iphone as a major player. It has more developer interest than any other mobile platform, and by a wide margin. Email is only the tip of the iceberg.

  • http://all.net/ hylas

    From the comments:

    “I can almost see Steve Jobs plotting just exactly how he will formally launch his full scale assault on enterprise computing after having surrounded it through the total saturation of the non-enterprise market. It will be the most seamless large-scale platform transition ever, made possible by Apple’s demonstrated expertise in managing platform switches and what I expect would be, by then, ubiquitous familiarity with Apple’s OS.”

    That, my friends, has always been the plan.
    Working software and hardware solutions that work seamlessly with all other platforms – you need not “give up” your choice of OS platform, or be nickeled and dimed to death.
    It becomes your choice, and it’s now a very attractive one.

    The ridiculousness of having to struggle with manufactured hurdles on server platforms


    … to serve the needs of groups of people and reducing complexities of use, will, in the end arrive and converge at Apple (with OS X 10,5.x Server, UNIX) This is where Microsoft would/should have been with the rollout of NT 4 Server and then had another chance with the 2000 Server offering, back in the 90s, and would have been if they hadn’t been sidelined by greed and petty politics. Gates and crew, which I’ve witness personally in action, are insolent and rude – especially with underlings – and their culture of entitlement will be their undoing, and frankly, I can’t wait.

    They’ve rode a wave of dumb luck and one fortunate opportunity, which led them to believe themselves genius. That ride is coming to an end, as everyone is wise to their ways.


  • http://all.net/ hylas

    That was quick.


    Gartner Analysts Warn That Windows Is Collapsing:



  • rdamiani

    Exchange is a lot more than just e-mail and shared calenders. E-mail and calendaring are a couple of the things Exchange does. OSXs mail and iCal servers are nice, but until and unless they can provide the seamless access to any kind of digital information you want to use, they aren’t going to replace Exchange.

  • dscottbuch


    It always seems everyone talks about either A OR B – Exchange or ‘something else’. I don’t believe this is point (or it shouldn’t be). Exchange provides a lot – much of which is not needed by a lot of people. I believe this group is large and they don’t have a reasonable alternative to Exchange for only what they need (without an IT staff to put it together from OS pieces). For example all we need as work are shared calendars, a common contact information source, and e-mail. None of the other features are required. Exchange is overkill. OTH the integration of CalendarServer, Open Directory, and e-mail on Leopard server is perfect for us. and significantly easier to administer, to me.

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  • rdamiani


    I don’t believe that group is as large as you might imagine, actually. Looking at an overview of OSX Server’s mail server, here are some things we do with Exchange that OSX Server dosn’t seem to be able to do:

    – Web-based mail access. No mail client required, just a computer (any computer, any OS) with internet access and there you are.

    – Web based calendar, fax, public folder, shared and private contacts, and distribution lists, too. Set up automaticly, but you can customize it if you want.

    – Server-based mail rules. By subject, sender, receiver, headers, body text, ect. i.e. Mail that sorts itself into folders without needing a mail client.

    – Distribution lists with server-based list archives. That also use server-based rules.

    – Resource accounts (meeting rooms, equipment, ect) that can respond to meeting requests and e-mail.

    – Delegation, with control over how much is delegated.

    – Deleted item retention (in addition to backups).

    I’m hardly an Exchange guru, by the way – all that stuff was set up automatically when I configured SBS via it’s wizard.

    Don’t get me wrong, I really like OSX. The greatness of my Mini is surpassed only by that of my week-old iMac. I got my brother and my sister to get MacBooks, and I’m trying to get the rest of the family to get them too. I’m really digging my iPhone and will get everyone in my office using them as their contracts expire (I’m the IT guy, so I get to do that). I’m looking forward to getting another Mac in the office, too (3/4 of our software offerings run on OSX and Windows, and the rest run under Parallels just fine). I just can’t see how an Xserve would fit into that.

  • dscottbuch


    First, from the businesses I deal with I know that none of that is ‘needed’ because they don’t have it now. :)

    Regarding your list.

    While I haven’t directly set up Leopard yet, I believe all of that is available.

    – Web based mail access – out of the box with Tiger and Leopard. No problem

    – Web based calendar with the most (maybe all) of the details you list – out of the box with Leopard

    – Server mail rules – don’t know if its out of the box with Leopard but was trivial to add to the Open Source mail viewer (Squirrel mail) provided as part of Tiger.

    – Mail lists – out of the box with Tiger and I assume Leopard. We use them all the time, including with customers.

    – Resources with calendars – Part of Calendar Server thats provided with Leopard and which I installed on Tiger – Free.

    – Delegation – As we don’t use calendaring extensively I’ve never yet understood what this is but its listed as part of CalendarServer so out of the Box with Leopard.

    So, I stand by my original assessment.

    BTW why would you put an xserve? The iMac would make a great server (we use one as our backup). The server functions use almost no CPU in small user situations and the stability of OS X makes it no burden to have that running in the background on something like an iMac.

  • rdamiani

    The iMac is my personal machine at home, and the server(s) are headless and live in a closet. So it would either be an Xserve or a mini. Or a MacPro, but that’s crazy talk.

    Replacing Exchange with OSX Server would involve a lot more than just setting up OSX Server and migrating mailboxes, even in a small office like mine. The fax functionality, for example, would involve some kind of third-party hardware and software, plus some kind of glue software to integrate it into our mail environment. The difference between them is not like MS Office vs. Open Office. It’s more like MS Office vs. WordPad + Calculator.

    Exchange’s web-based access, for example, is Outlook running in a web browser. Some stuff isn’t there – delegate control, folder permissions and folder actions, ect. But just about everything involving reading, responding to, and writing e-mail (and integrated calendering) is there. So you can (for example) create meeting requests and respond to incoming requests without needing anything but access to a web-enabled computer. As far as I can tell with Mail + iCal, I’d need to either build a web interface to iCal or purchase one, then manually copy meeting info from one to the other, or just wait until I got to my computer and do it from there. I don’t know how Mail + iCal deals with meeting changes in that scenario though. OWA or Exchange fires a request message to the organizer if the time is changed by one of the attendees. How does Mail + iCal deal with changes like that?

    Delegation is what happens in the real world when you have a secretary or personal assistant. The PA manages your schedule and routine correspondence, and lets you know about things that need your personal attention. Exchange allows you to do that without having to give your PA full, unrestricted access to all your account information. You can assign roles so some people have read, some have read and write, and some have send-as (not the same as impersonation). The rights can be assigned folder-by-folder, so you can deligate one calendar and folder and block access to other ones. We use this internally in a variety of ways.

    Public folders (which can be used as mailing lists) have the same kinds of access control, plus folder actions. So inbound messages that meet certain criteria can be routed in different ways. I use this (for example) with sub-dealers who don’t need accounts in our domain. You create a public folder (which has an e-mail address) and set it to forward mail to the external account your sub-dealer uses.

    Distribution lists can also be used as mailing lists, but have a different feature set. The archive folder isn’t required, for example, and you can ‘burst’ the list address into individual addresses in a particular e-mail so you can remove some recipients.

    Sever-side mail rules aren’t the same, unless Mail.app grows new functionality when it’s connected to a Leopard mail server. In Exchange, users create server-side rules automatically from within Outlook or Outlook web access. So say I join an external mailing list. I create a rule to file that mail into a folder, then close Outlook. When I check my mail later via Outlook Web Access (or my iPhone), the inbound list mail is in it’s folder without my having to create another rule, wait for any processing to occur, or get the server admin to implement anything.

    Scheduling resources in other systems is usually done by giving the resource an account and having someone monitor that account. in Exchange you can do that, or you can manage that with delegates and folder actions. It extends to e-mail as well as calendaring, so no need to manage them with separate programs.

    Exchange, in larger organizations, also allows for clustering, load balancing, and different roles. So you can have some servers managing mail boxes with others doing the send-and-receive part, while others are OWA gateways. Splitting out functionality and distributing it across other systems is where it really shines, but small companies don’t generally need to do that. SBS is more cost-effective for them. Lots cheaper, too.

    Exchange is large enterprise groupware that can be adapted to fit the needs of smaller organizations with highly mobile workers. It’s overkill for most small groups that don’t need a lot of remote access. I selected it because, for our company, the office is somewhere we go when we don’t have anything else to do. OSX Server is a workgroup solution that can be extended to the large end of more typical small and medium businesses that don’t have a lot of work-at-home-or-wherever users. There is some overlap in the small busness sector, but not so much that Apple can be said to be competing with Exchange in any meaningful kind of way.

    ActiveSynch on the iPhone (or the lack therof), the original article topic, wouldn’t push companies to switch server platforms regardless of the available functionality. RIM, for example, would not have been nearly as successful as they are if they required users to change messaging platforms or implement a different server architecture. Rather, RIM extends the existing messaging platform by adding a bit of software to the mail server that talks to the RIM systems that do the heavy lifting. Apple, by adding ActiveSynch, can get their phones into enterprise environments without even having to make the kinds of investments that RIM did. No need for a new Apple Messaging data center to route traffic to the handsets. No need to add software to any mail servers. No need for much of anything, really, since ActiveSynch is already platform-agnostic.

    While I can’t speak for everyone, I know that – in my own case – my switching my family to Macs started with a 4GB Nano (1G) and the first Intel Mini. Now we’ve got two iPhones, four iPods, a 24″ iMac, and I’ve got one brother and one sister to get MacBooks. My wife’s gonna get a MacBook too, once her litte Gateway dies. Two or three (or ten) like me in a given enterprise is a lot better for Apple than an XServe or a Mini with OSX Server would be. Apple isn’t chasing the enterprise market, so a strategy that lets them extend the halo into enterprises with very little effort on their part (implementing something Microsoft already has packaged for cross-platform use by third-parties) is absolutely perfect for them.

    In fact, if Apple does a better job of making ActiveSynch work than Microsoft does on Windows Mobile (not hard – Windows Mobile sucks swamp water), Apple’s iPhone could easily end up displacing Windows Mobile and making significant inroads on RIMs market share. That wouldn’t be possible if push email and live calendar and contact updating were limited to OSX Server implementations only. For IT folks, that’s too much like jumping off a cliff.

    Apple’s strategy since the introduction of the iPod seems to be one of sneaking in through a window rather than barging in the front door. iPods brought some people to Macs, but not many. Making iPods windows-compatable got people who weren’t thinking ‘Mac’ to start thinking ‘Mac’, but the hardware differences (PowerPC vs intel) were still a real barrier. Once the hardware difference was gone and Boot Camp showed up, getting a Mac as your next computer wasn’t an all-or-nothing choice. Boot camp made escaping back to Windows something that wouldn’t cost too much. iPhones that work with Exchange is just the latest way Apple is using to coax people into Apple stores and onto OSX.

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