Apple Loosens Up On OS X Server Virtualization

In a Monday post to the mailing list, Dave Schroeder, senior systems engineer at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, pointed out a change in the EULA for OS X Server 10.5 (Leopard) that opens the door to virtualizing OS X on Apple hardware for the first time.

"You may also install and use other copies of Mac OS X Server Software on the same Apple-labeled computer, provided that you acquire an individual and valid license from Apple for each of these other copies of Mac OS X Server Software," reads the Leopard Server license.

Apple didn't announce the licensing change and couldn't be reached for comment.

Prior to the release of Leopard Server, Apple didn't allow multiple copies of OS X Server to operate on a single machine, which kept the likes of VMWare and Parallels from virtualizing OS X. However, Schroeder said Apple's move could enable vendors like VMWare and Parallels to get into the OS X virtualization game, at least on Apple's Xserve hardware.

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"A supported installation of something like VMWare ESX Server able to virtualize multiple instances of Mac OS X Server on a single Xserve (not to mention any other ESX Server-supported OSes!) would be a very interesting proposition for many," wrote Schroeder.

Michael Oh, president of Boston-based solution provider Tech Superpowers, believes the licensing change could foreshadow future Apple offerings.

"This could be significant, because in most PC environments, companies are using virtualization to put together secure environments, secure administration and access, and remote desktop through terminal server," Oh said.

But virtualization on its own would be a lot less useful if Apple doesn't come up with a terminal services equivalent, Oh said. "On the same client, being able to access the server and bring up the session on the server would be a killer, enterprise level feature," he said.

In a Wednesday entry on the Parallels Virtualization Weblog, Ben Rudolph, director of corporate communications at the Renton, Wash.-based vendor, praised the move and said Parallels is already working to add Leopard Server to its virtualization server roadmap.

"We know from many of you that the "holy grail" of XServes is to run multiple, isolated, near-native instances of OS X Server on the same box, at the same time," Rudolph wrote.