Apple Canada plans to continue pursuing non-traditional markets with the introduction of the Xserve G5, which is scheduled to ship sometime next month.

Apple introduced the latest version of its rack-mountable server with its latest 2-GHz G5 processor at MacWorld in San Francisco last week.

The

64-bit Xserve G5 ships with 750 Gbytes of storage, the Mac OS X 10.3 operating system, and an unlimited client license.

“”Everywhere where we sell one of these (Xserve G5) is a very happy extension to something we never would have had before,”” said William Powell, strategic development manager for Apple Canada. “”What’s happening is we’re looking at markets that we just wouldn’t even be able to talk to them (before). Xserve represents a really great value and a high performance operating system on high performance hardware.””

And major software developers including Sybase and Oracle are taking notice, throwing their support behind Xserve – an increasing trend, said Powell.

“”What you’re seeing with Oracle is that its seeing there’s business to be had,”” he said. “”The real beauty of it is it’s 64-bit but you can also live in 32-bit land, which is unique. No one else has done this successfully at commodity pricing.””

The three standard configurations of Xserve G5, which can also be customized to meet customer requirements, range from $3,999 to $5,399.

At that price, Apple resellers like Ron Paley are boasting about Xserve’s cost savings compared to the competition.

“”Apple’s solution for servers rivals anything in the industry at a fraction of the cost of Sun Microsystems,”” said Paley, president of Carbon Computing in Toronto.

The low cost makes Xserve an attractive option to the SMB market.

Powell, for instance, recalls how Xserve saved a small Web service company thousands of dollars.

“”They called us and said, ‘We were pricing out the Xserve in the configuration we’d need and it turned out to be $8,000. We were pricing out the replacement to our Dells from Dell and it was going to be $12,000.'””

In 2003, Apple Canada launched a VAR recruitment program, going after resellers in non-traditional Apple markets such as the enterprise in an effort to pump its sales of Xserve, Xserve RAID, and Mac OS X server solutions.

“”We’ve ramped up and one of this year’s priority missions is to find VARs who are looking to extend their reach by offering new, unique solutions and, at the same time, we extend our reach.””

As for plans for the channel in 2004, Powell says not much has changed since last year.

“”Apple Canada has taken a unique position in the Apple family,”” he said. “”We’re requiring people to get certified and to sign on with us to specifically sell the product because we definitely want to go after some new markets and it takes some expertise.””

While focusing its initial marketing of Xserve, which debuted in May 2002, on its traditional customer base including education and graphics and design firms, Apple has been aggressively targeting niche markets, notably biotechnology.

“”Biotech is very exciting, because in the big honking industrial strength data centres, perhaps we’ll be able to play. We’ll be a consideration now,”” said Powell, citing the world’s third fastest supercomputer cluster (powered by the G5 processor) that was built by researchers at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University last year.

Powell, however, said Apple will focus on small and medium-size cluster opportunities such as university and corporate research departments, offering them turn-key solutions to serve all their biotech needs.

In terms of the server market, Powell says there’s lots of room for growth.

“”There are going to be a lot of people who are trying to do more with less and Mac OS X represents a great solution for people looking at doing more with less and trying to stay in the Unix and open source world.””

“”We’re going to start to see some new and interesting business that we’re going to have to fight for obviously,”” he said. “”It’s going to be very exciting for Apple this year.””

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