AppleShare IP 6
Wednesday 28th October, 1998
One of the most worrying areas for Apple over the last year or so has been the switch by users from Mac OS to Windows NT. For those who work in a mixed environment, a Windows NT- based server supports the connection of PCs and Macs, and people who work in a mainly (or even slightly) PC environment will have found the argument for buying NT persuasive. There are even examples of companies with Mac-only networks running an NT server because it’s cheaper and more powerful, and, according to the salesman at least, ‘more compatible and more reliable’.
Although AppleShare IP 5 came with proprietary Windows 3.1 protocol drivers for AppleShare File Protocol (AFP) servers, and shipped with the third-party drivers for 95 and NT (COPSTalk), it wasn’t seen by Windows users as a cross-platform server. With AppleShare IP 6, the company hopes to address this shortfall.
The installation process for IP 6 is not as straightforward as one would hope. When upgrading from an IP 5 server, it does manage to recognise the IP 5 serial number without prompting. Unfortunately, it doesn’t automatically move any users and groups settings across for you. However, IP 6’s admin interface is as straightforward to use as IP 5 (File and Web Sharing, Mail and DNS all have admin applications as well as server applications).
In terms of new features, probably the most important is the provision of Windows Services. IP 6 now provides SMB server support for Windows 95 and NT clients (although this wasn’t working correctly in the beta we were sent), as well as full IMAP 4 support. This means the mail server can be remotely managed from Windows email clients such as Microsoft Outlook Express. The general specification for the file server has been beefed up too; up to 500 concurrent users from a possible total of 10,000 users and groups, 364 unique open files (3000 total connections), and 50 physical volumes each with a maximum size of two terabytes.
For those without a suite of Macs and a dedicated test network, Apple has helpfully provided some documented performance figures. It’s faster than previous versions of AppleShare, but in terms of Mac-to- server performance, IP 6 is shown to outperform a similarly-specced NT server by up to 38%. Unfortunately, this figure only reflects Macs being served (32 Macs to one G3 server), not PCs, and given Microsoft’s propensity for writing code that doesn’t seem to benefit the opposition, it’s not possible to generalise this result; running PCs from an NT server may be faster than from an AppleShare IP 6 machine.
All in all, IP 6 is a great improvement on IP 5 in terms of speed and functionality. However, if it wants to recapture those users who have already switched to an NT server, Apple will first need to fix the Windows SMB support, and second, it will need to price it aggressively. Users are now clued into Apple’s previous trick of pricing the software high enough to make an entire server solution seem attractive; IP 6 will run only on a G3, and large PC-centric IT departments are notorious for finding even the tiniest excuse not to buy Mac.
Apple aims to stop the trend of buying Windows NT servers with its updated server software.
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|Pros||Supports SMB servers ˜ Supports IMAP 4 ˜ 500 concurrent users|
|Cons||Needs G3 ˜ Incompatible with Apple Remote Access|
|Originally Published||MacUser, Volume: 14, Issue: 20, p39|