Feb 18, 2011 — by: E. Werner Reschke
Categories: News, Predictions, Products, Review

Apple XServesApple's announcement to end production and sales of XServes on January 31, 2011 was a sad day for many Apple IT professionals. To read about the frustration it brings to the Mac community you need to look no further than Apple's own discussion forum on the topic.

One person in the forum said, "This is so unlike Apple, pulling the rug out on us - it's more like a MS move, sounds like they're slipping." Another lamented, "This is horrible news for any ACN out there. We fight tooth and nail to convince business and enterprise that Apple is a valid contender. How OSX Server is "real UNIX' and how Apple servers are more cost effective for licensing and support... To then have to sheepishly explain we have no rack-mounted option, no hot-swap drives or redundant power, no LOM, no actual 'server' - it's embarrassing and destroys Apple's presence in the server room." So this begs the question, does Apple need to be in the Server market? Yes.

Imagine you have a business idea and so you get a Mac. Then your idea grows and you hire a few folks. And then it grows some more and now you have 10, 15 or 25 people working for you. You've decided on the Mac platform cause it lacks the security hassles Windows requires, and Apple service is better than what you've had in the past. Moreover, the iPhone is a great mobile device as is the iPad — which works great with your Macs. Now, there's a problem. How are you communicating? Are you using Google Mail? Or perhaps Yahoo? Where are all your business and vendor contacts stored and how are they shared between employees? How about calendaring to schedule meetings? What of IM or video conferencing? Are you planning on using AOL where you have no idea who else may be watching your conversations?

"Eureka!", you think, "Let's get a server". You hear Apple's Snow Leopard server is the bomb (and you're right). It can meet all your needs listed above — mail, chat, video conferencing, sharing files, calendaring, contact sharing, web hosting and more. Then you discover your only options for OS X Server are either a Mac Pro tower or a Mac Mini. What? You're a real business, and with 25 employees you're conservatively bringing in $5-10 million a year. You need a real solution. You need a system with redundancy, so if a component goes belly-up (hard drive, power supply, etc) you know your business will continue to hum without skipping a beat.

Oh wait, Apple can't help you with that. Yes, there are some "kludgy" solutions out there, but nothing that is enterprise level or business worthy.

Read the board; see for yourself. Without a rack mountable hot-swappable, redundant power supply solution, Apple is missing a large opportunity to really take hold in a market where the next generation of businesses are ready to take off. Unfortunately it looks like these businesses will get too big for Apple and have to turn to HP or Dell to solve their problems.

 

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7 Comments

  1. Bladrnr ~ Feb. 18, 2011 @ 1:11 pm

    I still shake my head as to why this decision was made. I am an IT guy who supports a Mac-only shop with 50+ employees in a design environment. We are rare, but we exist. I had four Xserves that have been rock-solid for four years. Not wanting to go Windows or Linux I went to management and told them to purchase another Xserve to last us another four years, before the end of January. So we'll be fine, but what was Apple thinking? They make $Billions every quarter and they want to opt out of this market? Maybe the Xserve hardware was too good? I don't know. But it seems penny-wise, pound foolish. They just took one in the kneecap for those businesses teetering on going more Mac or 100% Mac. They have nothing to sell that looks like a server. I just don't get this. It makes no sense. #
  2. Dave ~ Feb. 18, 2011 @ 4:51 pm

    Ditto... We have a 10 man shop and four Xserves. I was planning on upgrading two of the oldest boxes in 2010... No issues, just getting relatively slow. But the decision to kill the Xserve leaves me with egg all over my face. Why did I stick my neck out and recommend OS X? Consider me burned. Many Apple fans resent this decision... Instead of killing the Xserve, Apple should have created a new strategy of redundant minis or something... To just abandon Mac Xserve users is simply WRONG WRONG WRONG. #
  3. scottyb ~ Feb. 18, 2011 @ 8:11 pm

    Bladrnr and Dave, I feel your pain. I work for a "big" university in Canada and we were all set to spend *serious* money on Xserves for a cluster and SAN as a pilot project for the viability of Apple in the "enterprise" role (and if successful the pilot would have grown by a factor of 5 or so). Then.... *poof*, no more Xserve, and so no more Apple as a solution, esp. as a pilot project (people get a bit restless when "soon-to-be-discontinued" is put in an IT sentence). :( #
  4. Pete ~ Feb. 19, 2011 @ 8:03 am

    As soon as I heard the Xserve was being discontinued I was able to convince the boss to let me buy one of the last units so we could continue without interruption. We typically replace servers every three years so I was able to buy some time to hash out what direction we will go next. I'm pretty sure we'll end up going Linux, but for now I was able to stay the course. #
  5. Peter ~ Feb. 19, 2011 @ 4:23 pm

    I used to run an in-house publications facility with several Xserves. I moved to a different position and the department head was forced to follow the corporate philosophy of using re-tread Windows servers. I regularly hear complaints from these people but I can't do anything about it. I know Apple restricts OSXServer to Apple hardware. I also know people say Xserves are out-of-date and way more expensive (even considering unlimited client licensing) than OTS server hardware. My question is why can't Apple allow a third-party assembler to use Mac Pro motherboards (server-level CPUs and memory) to build a Mac server with their own LOM, redundant power supplies and connections to OTS RAID units? Apple isn't selling a ton of Mac Pros so losing some to a company that would build the server and purchase OSXServer-unlimited isn't going to kill them. This way, OSXServer runs properly, the server would be rack mounted, and could operate within a typical computer room. Apple wouldn't even need to market it and it wouldn't take any of their sales (mini servers and Mac Pro servers can't make up that large of sales). #
  6. Ken ~ Feb. 20, 2011 @ 6:59 am

    What is really sad are all the uneducated that think that these services can be replicated using a Linux box. iChat Server alone Podcast Producer alone are reasons why the platform should be continued. How about all those colleges that use Podcast Producer. QUESTION: If the AppleTV can be a hobby, why not the Xserve? I think Steve is still smarting from NeXT and wants to literally get rid of any trace of it that's obvious. #
  7. PC ~ Feb. 20, 2011 @ 10:27 pm

    I think the hypocrisy is most apparent if you compare the treatment of the "hobby" Apple TV vs the XServe. If Apple had planned it properly and relaxed licensing for Mac OS X [Server] for virtualisation on VMware supported hardware, then discontinued the XServe there would be far less issues. #

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