The trials of Jobs

As did the ill-fated prophet Job, Apple's Steve Jobs has seen his share of setbacks and tribulations. Now comes Jobs, the master computer evangelist, on the most challenging crusade of his life: persuading IT to take Apple seriously.

As did the ill-fated prophet Job, Apple's Steve Jobs has seen his share of setbacks and tribulations.

Granted, the Sabeans didn't carry off his oxen, and no dark wind destroyed his children's home. But in 1985, after riding to wealth and power at Apple, Jobs lost control of the company that he co-founded in his garage with Steve Wozniak. Only after a mostly unprofitable interlude at NeXT computer did Jobs redeem himself though his association with Pixar and return to Apple in 1997.

Since then, the company has stayed at the forefront of computer and industrial design, pioneering such innovations as peer-to-peer networking, wireless networking, the capacious iPod and, most recently, its online iTunes Music Store.

Now comes Jobs, the master computer evangelist, on the most challenging crusade of his life: persuading IT to take Apple seriously.

That could be harder than it sounds. Most IT departments support Apple equipment mainly for specialised chores such as video, graphic design, or animation, but not as the backbone of the datacentre. There are plenty of those in IT who admire Apple's engineering, but time and again the company's genius has been applied to what are essentially consumer innovations.

But give Jobs and Apple credit. The switch to the Unix-based Mac OS X was disruptive but smart. And the upcoming version -- code-named Panther -- brings agility to otherwise clunky Unix.

Apple's latest IT hardware -- including the 2.5TB 3U Xserve RAID array and updated 1U Xserve units -- is as easy to manage as it is easy on the eye. Apple's hardware, once expensive, is now priced competitively. And its software is a bargain. Even proprietary versions of Linux -- the favoured open source alternative -- typically run $US2500 to $US5000 vs just $US999 for an unlimited-user OS X server licence.

All of this makes an intriguing pitch. With Jobs in the pulpit, you may or may not walk away converted, but you know it'll be a heck of a sermon.

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