In our position as one of the larger Apple Specialists, it has been interesting to observe that an increasing number of businesses are adding Macs to their IT infrastructure. We’re seeing Macs in every department (legal, accounting, administrative, creative) of businesses in many different industries. We’ve even seen quite a few business become 100% Mac-based. (Small Dog is 99% Mac based — we have a single old Gateway hooked up to the UPS shipping system in our warehouse.)

This trend really took off when Apple switched to Intel processors. It seems the “Intel Inside” designation was slightly more comforting to traditional IT professionals than the totally foreign G4 and G5-equipped Macs from years past.

As IT professionals begrudgingly allowed a few Macs to infiltrate their Windows networks, the workers they supported were finally allowed to use a Mac on the job (after using them for years at home). IT pros saw that the sky didn’t fall when Macs joined their IT ecosystem, and that Macs mostly just worked and stayed out of the way (statically Macs need less support than PCs).

InfoWorld reports that “A mid-2008 Yankee Group survey of 750 senior IT executives found nearly 80 percent have Macs onboard, up from 47 percent in 2006. Nearly a quarter of these have 30 or more Mac boxes.”

Recently we’ve noticed an uptick of interest in the Apple Xserve and in Parallels Server for Mac. The Xserve is Apple’s highly rated, rack-mountable, scalable server. It runs the relatively easy-to-use Mac OS 10.5 Server software. At Small Dog, we depend on a rack of Xserves (photo) to host Smalldog.com, network our workstations, etc.

Many businesses embracing the Mac platform are looking for a Mac server that will still allow them to run a version of Windows (or Linux) Server. We suggest Parallels Server for Mac. Parallels is already delivering the leading desktop virtualization solution for Mac (Parallels Desktop). They also offer the industry’s only server virtualization solution designed for Mac.

At InfoWorld, Bill Earlywine (IT manager at Video Product Group), says, “We use a Mac server to manage both Windows and Mac users via Mac OS X SMB and Open Directory authentication infrastructure. Our primary enterprise controls are authentication and access control, rather than policy enforcement. Virtualization helps us homogenize management tasks. For instance, we have Windows Server supporting specific functions, running under Parallels on a Mac Xserve, and use Apple’s server management suite for server monitoring and administration.”

We like Parallels because it supports side-by-side installation of Mac OS, Windows, and Linux on existing (aka, older) as well as new systems. Parallels Server for Mac has 32/64-bit support, and the Parallels Management Console provides integrated management of servers and VMs across different platforms.

This solution allows small/medium as well as large organizations to:

  • Run server workloads such as email, databases and web applications across different platforms on Apple XServes in virtualized environment
  • Standardize server platforms on Apple XServes while incorporating Windows, Linux, FreeBSD into virtual environments
  • Fully leverage XServe utilization and IT infrastructure investments
  • Reduce cost and complexity of managing the IT infrastructure with effective cross-platform deployment and management on the XServe hardware platform
  • Ensure business continuity with cross-platform migration and system backups

The current version of Parallels Server features hardware-acceleration extensions including Intel’s Virtualization Technology (Intel VT-x) to provide optimal virtualization.

Parallels Server and its integrated tools cost just $919.99 from Small Dog Electronics.

In January, 2008, the editors of Macworld wrote that “Parallels Server for Mac enables you to run almost any server OS in virtualized environments on the reliable Mac platform — and that’s something you can’t do today on a Windows machine.”

Learn more about Parallels for Mac, including the Desktop and Server versions, click here.

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