Apple may allow VMware to support virtualized Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard Server running in the cloud using the upcoming VMware vSphere 5, according to AppleInsider and other reports on the web. The move could be a replacement strategy for Xserve, Apple's enterprise server hardware that the company discontinued at the end of January. This left the company without an enterprise hardware platform for Mac OS X Server, which Apple says it is continuing to develop. Mac OS X Servers can run on Apple desktop Macs, but there is no longer a rack-mountable platform for the software.
VMware vSphere allows enterprise organizations to virtualize IT services and host them in their own cloud for private use with their own cloud security, or to offer services to other organizations. vSphere runs in data centers using VMware's ESXi hypervisor, which supports multiple virtual machines across multiple hardware servers. Version 4 supports Windows Server 2008, Oracle Solaris 10 and several Linux OS's. The addition of support for Mac OS X Server as a guest OS would enable enterprise organizations deploy Apple's server in a manner that would be easier than using Apple's Xserves.
Apple Insider said that the rumor is based on a leak of vSphere 5 features. If true, this would be the first time that Apple allowed its server OS to run on non-Apple hardware. VMware would not likely enable Mac OS X Server running in a virtual machine without Apple's agreement. Currently, running Mac OS X Server on non-Apple hardware violates the End User License Agreement (EULA). Mac OS X Server can run as a Guest OS in VMware Fusion and Parallels Desktop running on a Mac.
vSphere 5, which VMware announced in February, will be a major new version to be released some time this summer.