Three Guys and a Podcast

Three Guys and a Podcast: Apple News & Analysis

July 09, 2012 at 1:43pm Pacific Time
by: E. Werner Reschke
Categories: Mac Mini, Mac Pro, Products, Tim Cook

If you are an IT professional and yet love the Mac OS, it's tough not to have a "real" Mac server in the line-up. While the Mac Mini Server is a nice choice for home use, it lacks the redundancy needed for business applications that can't afford downtime or to lose data because of hard drive or power supply failures. 

Mac Mini Colo - MacMiniColo.netRecently I had a conversation with Brian Stucki, owner of Mac Mini Colo, located in Las Vegas, NV. What his company has done with the Mac Mini Server it is very impressive. While his solution doesn't solve the redundancy issue, he has a nice setup for those who need to colo for a Mac Mini Server. He said the Mac Mini's reliability was great and has yet to see a power supply fail on any of the 1,000 plus Mac Mini Servers he's dealt with over the years.

Still, if the 2013 version of the Mac Pro tower, mentioned in a Facebook post by Tim Cook, doesn't deliver a rack mountable server solution there could be another way for Apple to deliver redundancy in its server offerings. What if Apple made it so two Mac Mini servers could be connected directly together via Thunderbolt and then could share a brain and drives? This is also known as "cluster computing." Some hardware and software would need to be developed for this, but this would solve a lot of shortcomings with Apple's current line-up without a lot of work. The beauty of the Mac Mini Server is its small size and price. Several Mac Minis can be stacked or set next to each other in a small space. This type of solution would mean if one Mac Mini's power supply died or hard disk died, the other would continue on like nothing happened (but bear the full load alone). Quickly procure another a Mac Mini Server, connect it up and viola, redundancy is back in place.

There are a couple of nice storage options that allow for redundancy in this scenario: one could use an external Thunderbolt RAID package (Promise, LaCie, G-Drives,...) or just get the Mac Minis with SSD drives and the data is shared between the two via a RAID 1 array.

If Apple doesn't want to spend a lot of energy, but still wants to provide a decent option for Mac IT people, this would be an easy way to deliver a serious server solution that most IT professionals could live with and recommend to their businesses and organizations.

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5 Comments

  1. Diego ~ July 09, 2012 13:20

    Nice article, but the link to Mac Mini Colo is incorrect! #
  2. Werner Reschke ~ July 09, 2012 13:44

    Hi Diego, Thanks for the comment. Link fixed! Good catch. -Werner #
  3. Phil ~ July 09, 2012 20:30

    One major hurdle is that Lion Server and likely, Mountain Lion Server cannot be installed on any kind of RAID. #
  4. Aaron Mildenstein ~ July 10, 2012 09:12

    Phil, Why would you need disk-level RAID if you have clustered computers? The whole device is part of a mirrored set in that case. The argument continues past that with external Thunderbolt storage. There the RAID is handled externally so it appears as a single disk to (Mountain) Lion. #
  5. Jeremy ~ July 11, 2012 00:04

    Phil, that is incorrect information. As an authorized Apple shop, we've done a good number of Mac Mini Server installs with the drives in software RAID with Lion Server. Additionally, Apple fully supports and works perfectly fine with Apple hardware RAID cards. #

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