Leopard on ESX Would Be Nice

A few days ago Team Fusion posted about Apple Mac OS X 10.5 being their 61st supported OS. That’s pretty darn cool. Thing is, though, it doesn’t make a darn bit of difference to me.

Instead, I’d really like to run Mac OS X in ESX Server. I don’t even care if I have to buy Apple Xserve hardware to do it. I’d love to see Mac OS X guests in VirtualCenter, able to use VMotion, snapshots, HA, cloning, and all the enterprise features we already have for Windows, Linux, Netware, and Solaris x86. It would also be very cool to see Mac OS X virtual desktops. Imagine how easy it would be to switch people over then.

As it stands, the column of aging Xserves in my data center is likely to be replaced with Linux VMs when the warranties on the hardware expire. Why? Because hardware isn’t worth it anymore. It doesn’t matter whose logo is on it or how snazzy brushed aluminum is, appearances don’t change the fact that physical hardware in my increasingly warm and full data center is, at most, 5% utilized on average. Customers and their applications need encapsulation and isolation, not hardware. And especially not expensive hardware with short warranties. There are lots of good reasons to run Mac OS X in an enterprise, but without an enterprise virtualization solution it’ll continue losing to Linux, or, heaven forbid, Windows.

In conclusion, I hope the Fusion announcement is a prelude to bigger things, and I look forward to the day when my Mac desktop is just a VM running out of my data center. 🙂

3 thoughts on “Leopard on ESX Would Be Nice”

  1. Hi! Can I interest you in 12 XServes (all G4-G5 headless node servers?).

    They’re worthless to me now. They were semiworthless when they were new. I appreciate what Apple was trying to do, but OSX is awful as a server OS in a heterogeneous environment. The administration is ghastly, the standard Unix compatibility is non-existent, and I’m not sure who’s idea it was to use headless displays without CDROMS, having to turn your server into a firewire drive in order to reinstall the OS was a Bad Idea(tm).

    Sorry, touchy subject for me.

  2. I think it might be prudent to separate the discussion between the desktop and server OS X… As much as I love the 1U Xserves compared to the other hardware in that class, I’d rather pay for more OS licenses and put them on ESX. Having OS X app server hosting for things like Filemaker, as well as the nice Exchange/groupware/OpenDirectory/etc in VM would be a godsend, especially for disaster recovery and failover for SMBs… Also lots of potential for selling “prefab” ESX image bundles.

    The OS X client OS, however, is something that I have a little more of a problem with. I really like the hardware/software integration on the client side… And I really don’t “get” the virtual desktop, at least not yet. I think a lot of my workflow is splitting between the extremely hardware intensive, and the stuff that’s all moving to the “cloud” anyway… I’d like to see a more sophisticated MobileMe take this idea further with beautiful renditions/equivalents of the GoogleApps Suite.

    But whether you agree with me or not on the desktop virtualization issue, I think it’s fair to say that Apple has a much stronger ongoing desire to push physical hardware on the desktop side. Keep in mind, too, that OS X Desktop is $129 retail, versus $499-999 for Server – with virtually ALL of the same capabilities/performance under the hood. If I were Apple, I’d definitely want to make sure that my first forays into virtualization on ESX didn’t completely undercut my efforts to build on the moderate success of my server-specific OS.

    Why they’re holding off on server virtualization (especially after gutting their internal RAID development to work with partner Promise on a more up to date enterprise-class solution), is really puzzling. In some ways, virtual servers are the zenith of “hardware consistency”, which has always been the reason Apple hasn’t farmed the OS out to a diverse crew of hardware manufacturers. It’s also the most requested OS X Server feature at every conference/developer/IT event hosted by Apple.

    I’m not sure it’d really even BE Apple if they listened to their customers 100% of the time. But they are taking longer than usual to develop the “Apple-ized” 90-degree solution to this problem. Maybe with Snow Leopard, Bill gone from Microsoft, and a few more technologies in place to help Exchange/AD houses make the switch, they can roll out the VM carpet, say 3-4 days before the Windows Server 7 release. 😉

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