Apple'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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