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Mailbag: Mac Servers and Virtualization

Doug recently asked for a show of hands to determine who uses Mac servers for virtual Vista and XP desktops. Here are your responses:

We don't use Mac servers, and I don't know anyone that uses Mac servers in an enterprise environment. And using them to drive VM Vista or XP desktops is even more out there. I'm sure there are a few people out there, but I very much doubt that it is close to 23 percent, or even 3 percent. They may be counting non-Windows as a whole as Mac servers (Unix, Linux, BSD, Mac).

I have not seen a single Mac server in an enterprise IT computer room. Who are these virtual people?

Well, we sort of use Mac servers. Being that we are a large university, there is not much control over what the faculty or even tech workers for individual departments do. I'm guessing that there are about 10 or so, but none in the datacenter. I don't know of any that are being used to run virtual Windows machines.

Yes, I use Macs for Hyper-V. I run Win 2003 images on a Dell with Win 2008. However, I have some Win XP and Win NT images that were virtualized on MS VS 2005. When I migrated them over to the Hyper-V on Win 2008, I discovered that Hyper-V only supports Vista, Win 2003, and Win 2008 and above. I also saw that Hyper-V will only support two cores per image on Win 2003 images, and I can only assign cores in multiples of two.

On my Mac Pro, I run Parallels Hyper-V server for Mac. It runs my Win XP images just fine. Also, I can assign up to eight cores to any image including Win 2003 and in multiples of 1. I have a Win 2003 Enterprise image as a TS assigned with three cores, not possible with Hyper-V. Performance seems to by equitable between images running on the Mac and the Dell. However, I have not been able to add Win 2003 images running on Mac to a server farm that has images running on the Dell.

Is it always true that downgrading to XP costs more than it does to just keep Vista? A few readers don't think so:

I don't know if I agree with that statement. If businesses have to upgrade a large amount of their desktop apps due to Vista incompatibility, the costs can add up quickly. In an economic downturn, businesses aren't willing to pay to upgrade their expensive, slightly aged, mission-critical desktop apps (that still get the job done) just to be able to run a not-so-stellar OS.

This is so not true if you are a large corp. Large corps spend tens of millions on testing their in-house apps with new OSes, so why would they want to spend all of that additional money to test their apps with Vista if XP is working for them?

On the topic of Vista, Scott shares his thoughts on where the OS is falling short:

Just wanted to give my two cents on Vista: I just bought my wife a new computer with Vista installed and we both love it! I think a majority of the problems Vista is experiencing is due to familiarity; people like what they know and don't embrace change just for the sake of change. I'm guilty of that at times, too.

I think it's also due to hubris (and a little ignorance) on the part of Microsoft and its OEM partners. Vista does require some good hardware to run and selling Vista Ready vs. Vista Capable PCs was a mistake when all it was going to do was confuse customers. Vista on a Celeron with 1GB RAM and a 128MB video card -- c'mon, they should know better; a dual core 2GHz CPU with 2GB RAM and a 256MB video card should be MINIMUM specs for installing Vista (that and good drivers). After all, you want your customers to enjoy their experience, not ponder why it's so slow and unresponsive compared to their XP machine.

Speaking of Vista's appeal (or lack thereof), Jeremy has one suggestion to fix it:

Someone in recent Mailbag section mentioned the nerdy Mac guy from the Apple spots. Does he have a non-compete clause or could Microsoft throw an obscene amount of money at him to switch? Maybe have PC guy kidnap him from a brainwashing cult to realize Vista is good.

And finally, Dean shares his thoughts on the recent passing of longtime InfoWorld writer Ed Foster:

I have been a fan and avid reader of Ed's work for many years. It was a real shock to get the e-mail from Jeff Foster saying that his father had passed away. Ed was a very vocal advocate for those that did not have the media platform to bring issues to a wide audience. He was not shy about taking on the "big guys," whether it be for one person or a whole class of people, and that won him the admiration of us all. We all lost a friend and leader at his passing.

Tell us what you think! Leave a comment below or send an e-mail to

Posted by Doug Barney on 08/28/2008 at 1:15 PM


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