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Apple Offers Solution to IT Roadmap Complaints 52

daria42 writes "Apple has admitted that enterprise IT users complain a lot about not being able to find out what its product roadmap is ahead of time. The Apple answer to this problem? Sign a non-disclosure agreement and go to Apple's annual worldwide developer conference, to be held in August this year in San Francisco. IT users can apparently get plans of Apple's roadmap up to 18 months ahead."
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Apple Offers Solution to IT Roadmap Complaints

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  • Vagueness (Score:4, Insightful)

    by FuturePastNow ( 836765 ) on Tuesday June 20, 2006 @04:09AM (#15567313)
    Despite the NDA I imagine this will be very, very skimpy on details. Something like, "In six months, we'll be using the 3Ghz dual-core processors, in twelve months we'll be using the 3.5Ghz quad-core processors." Hell, Intel's roadmaps already give us most of the details of Apple's future products (everything except size and shape).

    It'll leak anyway.
    • Re:Vagueness (Score:5, Insightful)

      by IntlHarvester ( 11985 ) on Tuesday June 20, 2006 @04:37AM (#15567416) Journal
      (everything except size and shape).

      And Price.

      You can bet there will be no juicy information such as "We plan to have a expandible minitower on the market for $800 in 2007. So don't buy a PowerMac unless you *really* need it!!". Instead you'll get the standard Intel roadmap which anyone can read on the Inqurier.

      I think this is really to molify institutional concerns about the Intel switchover -- It happened so fast, I imagine that quite a few shops that couldn't manage budgets/planning quickly enough. One day they were selling iMac G5s and the next day they weren't, and too bad if you were using Photoshop or something.
    • Re:Vagueness (Score:5, Insightful)

      by dushkin ( 965522 ) on Tuesday June 20, 2006 @05:35AM (#15567566) Homepage
      Apple always keeps its products uber-secret no matter what, Palm likes to do similar things. Gotta love this fruit company :P Things DO leak, but when they leak it's generally two weeks before the thing is released.. And usually you can't even tell what it is, like this "Ultra-Portable" device Apple allegedly wants to make. It could be a new iPod, or it could be a new MacBook [Pro]. So unless you signed an agreement with them, chances are you won't exactly know what Apple is trying to do. And when you do know, you're gonna have to keep it secret or else the Apple Police will follow you home and kill your dog.
    • Re:Vagueness (Score:5, Informative)

      by saurabhdutta ( 904490 ) <> on Tuesday June 20, 2006 @06:42AM (#15567746) Homepage
      FTFA, Its software roadmap they are primarily talking about. "Those attending the conference get a clear roadmap of Apple's software development plans up to 18 months ahead"
    • Re:Vagueness (Score:5, Insightful)

      by hey! ( 33014 ) on Tuesday June 20, 2006 @07:00AM (#15567795) Homepage Journal
      I imagine that most IT guys aren't interested in hardware speed. They're more interested in software and interoperability. You don't want to roll out software and training programs to find out they've been dropped/updated/replaced. You don't want to buy hardware or software add ons for Apples if Apple is going to make them obsolete.
      • They're more interested in software and interoperability. You don't want to roll out software and training programs to find out they've been dropped/updated/replaced. You don't want to buy hardware or software add ons for Apples if Apple is going to make them obsolete.

        The "support lifecycle" of OS X is the first thing that came to mind when I read the words "IT Roadmap Complaints." Does Apple even have an official support lifecycle policy for OS X?

        By glancing at Apple's security updates and system requi

    • I think apple will be better off with amd quad-cores as the the intel ones are just 2 dual-cores in the same die also AMD 4x4 looks like some thing that apple may want to have a duel duel core or dual quad-core that does not need costly ECC ram plus it has better cpu linking. The new upcomeing intel chip set does not let you use two video cards together and apple may want to sell some systems with dual NVIDIA Quadros and gefores as well as ATI FireGLs and Radeons.
  • by ZxCv ( 6138 ) on Tuesday June 20, 2006 @04:41AM (#15567425) Homepage
    Obviously, with as many rabid fans as Apple has, releasing a roadmap without an NDA would most certainly not work.

    And yet, even with the NDA, like the only other post so far said, it will get leaked.

    Apple just can't win here.
  • On the other hand (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ronanbear ( 924575 ) on Tuesday June 20, 2006 @07:31AM (#15567879)
    Microsoft announced Vista years ago and all its features. Sometimes not knowing what's gonna happen is better than relying on incorrect information.

    Apple are deliberately quiet about future products both from a marketing perspective and because it makes them a leaner, more responsive company. They can suddenly release software like Aperture and Bootcamp out of the blue when its ready and the time is right for them.

    • by Phat_Tony ( 661117 ) on Tuesday June 20, 2006 @12:54PM (#15570333)
      "They can suddenly release software like Aperture and Bootcamp out of the blue when its ready"

      Then why didn't they wait until Aperture was ready?

  • I've been to WWDC (Score:4, Informative)

    by nebbian ( 564148 ) on Tuesday June 20, 2006 @08:20AM (#15568058) Homepage Journal
    I went to a WWDC a couple of years ago, when Steve released a beta of Jagwyre to all attendees. It leaked out a couple of weeks after that, but still it's one thing to download it, it's another to have the 'official' copy.

    WWDC isn't about product announcements though, it's a chance for normal everyday developers to talk to the Apple guys in charge about the decisions they're making in the future. Stuff like "When are you going to put InputSprockets on OS X?". This is where the juicy stuff is, in the tutorials, not when Steve walks out onto the stage.

    It's also a heck of a lot of fun :-)
    • I think the point is this is new this year. IT users will get a roadmap under NDA. Probably not a "we will release the iHDTV on June 1, 2007, and iPhone on August 3rd," type roadmap, but more of a "we will release a desktop using the Intel Core 2 Duo 3.4 GHz within a month of it shipping in December, at the $1000 price point, that is expandable."
      • Re:I've been to WWDC (Score:3, Interesting)

        by MojoStan ( 776183 )

        more of a "we will release a desktop using the Intel Core 2 Duo 3.4 GHz within a month of it shipping in December, at the $1000 price point, that is expandable."

        I bet that's a product IT people (and many others) have wanted since the introduction of the iMac and the "blue and white" PowerMac G3. A simple desktop without a freakin' integrated monitor and maybe 2-3 expansion slots. A simple desktop that's NOT a $2000+ workstation. Not an underpowered, non-expandable mini with notebook parts. Not an overpric

        • I've been pining for exactly this "shoebox"-sized mac. I'm about to dispose of a perfectly good 15" CRT because the computer it came bundled with is obsolete. I don't want to do that to an $600 LCD Monitor.

          I've been tempted by the mini's price. But the laptop drive keeps being a showstopper. I don't need a tiny machine.
  • Jeez... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by __aajqwr7439 ( 239321 ) on Tuesday June 20, 2006 @08:20AM (#15568063)
    In addition, he said, Apple's previous operating system, Mac OS 9, had a reputation for instability that was still around, despite the newer Mac OS X's strong stability record.

    They're almost as bad as the people who still can't stop talking about how bad Windows ME was. And did we mention that we're holding off on Vista because Microsoft Bob had a reputation for being CPU-intensive?

    If you're going to hold a grudge, why not go back a decade when you're already halfway there?

    • Re:Jeez... (Score:4, Insightful)

      by gsfprez ( 27403 ) on Wednesday June 21, 2006 @01:25PM (#15576986)
      i often bag on how bac Windows 3.11 is to Mac bashers who's last Mac experience was a Mac Classic back in high school.

      I mean, if their understanding of the Mac platform is "it uses all proprietary hardware, you have to buy special ethernet cables for it, and you can't just hook it into a Windows network", then why can't i go back and talk about their OS in a similar timeframe of obsolesence?
  • by caseih ( 160668 ) on Tuesday June 20, 2006 @11:22AM (#15569517)
    Having used Apple's enterprise hardware and software (OS X Server and XServe) for three years, I can tell you that Apple just doesn't get the enterprise. They are either unwilling or unable to treat enterprise customers any differently than their average consumer customer. Only recently has Apple even set up a special support mechanism for their enterprise customers. Previous to this point, when you called up apple with a server problem you would never get anyone on the phone that understood servers. One time I called up to get a drive replaced on warranty. The drive (in a RAID-5 array) had not failed, but the yellow warning light had come on, indicating that a failure was likely. After describing the situation to the support rep, he asked me if I had put the disk back in to see if it would go back to a green light. I was flabbergasted. I gently told him that no, I could not do that. This was a mission-critical server and that once the disk had even so much as blinked, it had to be replaced (I had already inserted the spare at that point). I was unable to get the service rep to budge, so I had to escalate the issue through our local education rep and finally got the warranty replacement.

    Other major issues we have had stem from the fact that Apple wants us to reboot our computer every couple of weeks. Uptime longer than a month or so is impossible with Apple. We've told our Apple reps that this is unacceptable but they've said we just have to live with the fact that Apple focuses on consumers mainly and for them a reboot is acceptable for almost every update. If you though Microsoft Windows was bad about reboots in the past, Apple is worse.

    Finally, despite Apple using Open Source as a marketing point, and despite the fact that Apple bundles a lot of OSS with their OS, Apple is not an Open Source company in any form. Their bundles of OSS are done in way that makes it impossible to recompile or replace components yourself. For example, although they ship OpenLDAP, it is deeply integrated into other Apple components and you cannot fix bugs yourself or upgrade the OpenLDAP component (much of the source is there, but it is not buildable). We ran into some very nasty bugs in Panther server with the hacks they did to OpenLDAP. Bugs that would completely deadlock the server every week and require a hard reset. It took us a year of fighting with Apple to get them to acknowledge that there was a bug. And this was only after another customer spend weeks building a script that would hammer the server and illustrate the bug. Apple finally released a fix for this in 10.3.6 or 7 I think, after it had been reported back at 10.3.3, about a year earlier. And of course by this time, Apple's engineers were hard at work on Tiger, so they didn't really even want to go back and touch panther again. Right about the time Apple released Tiger Server, I complained about some chronic NFS file locking problems in Panther Server (10.3.9) to Apple and they said simply, just upgrade to Tiger. I told them that wasn't possible as it was a production server and I couldn't upgrade it midstream like that, but in Apple's eyes, I'm out of luck. Running OS X server is a bit like trying to run Fedora Core on a server. Apple just doesn't want to support any OS version longer than a year or two. I'm finally getting ready to roll out a Tiger server box (my 3 year cycle on the panther server is about up) as it fixes numerous issues I've been having, but it is not a trivial migration. Plus I've heard a lot of reports that Samba just doesn't work under load on Tiger Server. So that really leaves me in a bit of a bind.

    Fortunately we're about to replace the main file server and we're taking bids from other vendors. Right now we're looking at some new Apple RAID arrays, because the price is right, but we're not going to be running OS X server at all. It will definitely be linux on a Dell or HP server. Also Sun is pricing out some hardware that is a whole grade above Apple's RAID at a price that nearly matches Apple's
    • by daveschroeder ( 516195 ) * on Tuesday June 20, 2006 @12:33PM (#15570175)
      Apple has not, and still does not, get the enterprise.

      While Apple has been *extremely slowly* working to provide enterprise services (Apple's enterprise-specific phone support options are extremely improved, particularly the Preferred and Alliance levels []), there are other areas that are still sorely lacking. Currently, we use AppleCare Enterprise Help Desk [] support, and have been fairly satisfied.

      Apple does now offer 24x7 and 4 hour on-site service and support plans, and matches fairly well, most of the time, with our other vendors (primarily Dell, Sun, and IBM).

      Where we get killed is on any kind of roadmap or planning information.

      At Macworld San Francisco 2004, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, which used to be the largest Mac site in the world, talked about what they learned integrating Macs in their enterprise. I've made the presentation available here []. I recommend people take a look at it, as it covers other issues as well. Like many organizations, Apple suffered during the late 90s, when it wasn't clear what Apple's direction was, and when Apple's future seemed uncertain. This meant that LLNL went from having 14000 Macs in 1997 to having about half that in 2003. In the meantime, the Windows installed base increased commensurately. (I believe that since then, we've gone to being one of the largest Mac sites outside of Apple, with well over 10000 institutionally-owned Macs, and many Apple server and storage products both deployed centrally and around the campus. Some [] examples [].)

      What is one of LLNL's top recommendations for Apple?

      Develop a working balance between Apple's needed "confidentiality" and Corporate IT's need of "roadmap" information

      This balance, or lack thereof, is also listed as one of their top "difficulties" when working with Apple. And I couldn't agree more.

      You touched on some other issues related to software development, integration of OSS components into the OS, acknowledgment of and tracking of bugs, bug fixes being pushed out to next major releases of the operating system (e.g., 10.3.x -> 10.4), and so on. One small victory has been that Apple does now provide semi-detailed information about security updates, and does provide security updates for the previous major version of the OS.

      However, the list of deficiencies is much longer. At WWDC, pretty much the only information we get is with regard to software development (and to be fair, that's all the original article actually refers to). We get virtually no information on hardware futures. We don't need to see pictures or know exactly what speed something will be. We want to know where Apple's headed. What form will the Intel servers take? We don't want to find out the DAY they ship. Will they use multiple cores? How many? Which architectures? Will they finally have redundant power supplies? How many drive bays will they have? How many expansion slots, and what kind of expansion? Will the Xserve RAID transition to SATA? Will Apple provide onboard video on the Xserve? Will there be an expansion beyond light-duty servers? How will they integrate into our existing management infrastructure? Will Mac OS X Server make provisions for virtualization of multiple instances of Mac OS X/Mac OS X Server? Where is Apple going with Darwin? What is the EOL schedule for Mac OS X/Mac OS X Server? (Apple still makes NO INFORMATION available about official end-of-life or end-of-support for any versions of Mac OS X or Mac OS X Server. We just have to guess that the previous major version of Mac OS X is what's supported.) How long will PowerPC be supported? This list goes on and on and on and on.

      Yes, you can glean and infer some of this stuff unofficially from things happening in th
      • We want to know where Apple's headed. What form will the Intel servers take? We don't want to find out the DAY they ship. Will they use multiple cores? How many? Which architectures? Will they finally have redundant power supplies? How many drive bays will they have? How many expansion slots, and what kind of expansion?

        Why is this useful information? Before the product ships, do you want to depend on those answers? What prevents you from evaluating the product once it actually ships?

        I understand the geek-c
    • I agree that their enterprise support needs some serious improvements, but in the meantime I'll give you this advice.

      Get a developer account and use bugreporter. It really does work. I have a free account and I can't even program anymore since I switched jobs, but the bug reports DO get looked at and they do fix them. I started reporting them a while back, every little thing that bugs me, simple stuff or anything I could think of. Surprisingly I'd get replies from an engineer very quickly asking for mor
      • Wouldn't better advice to be to vote with their dollars: Stop buying Apple gear for enterprise usage? Apple doesn't appear to be very forthcoming to help them run their business. Why should they continue to use them? There are plenty of other vendors that will be more than happy to share roadmaps and information and get them going. Heck, Sun and the various Linux vendors share the source of large portions of their products, even in a pre-release state. How can Apple seriously complete against that?
  • by Anonymous Coward
    FTFA: "Our target markets are corporate, they want to be able to plan two years ahead, sometimes three years ahead," he said, pointing out such customers wanted him to look into his crystal ball and predict vendor roadmaps over that time.

    Companies buy cheap, problem-prone Windows PCs to capture short-term savings, instead of paying a little more initially for Macs and reaping years of savings via lower support costs. And then these same companies turn around and criticize Apple for not "allowing" them to pl
  • If you want to see some of Apples product roadmap 3-5 years ahead then you should check out a rumors forum or cringelys website hes usually about that far ahead in his predication or a mac hypotheical site like %20if.html [] which also has some really crazy thoughts on it.

10.0 times 0.1 is hardly ever 1.0.