Yesterday, at Apple's World Wide Developers Conference, Phil Schiller stole the show during the Keynote presentation when unveiling the new Mac Pro. “Can’t innovate anymore — my ass!” said Schiller. The crowd erupted in laugher and applause. "The new Mac Pro looks like no other computer, ever." Schiller said the new Mac Pro was a forward looking product, meeting the needs of video editors, photographers, musicians and graphic artists. But what about Server Admins? Couldn't the new Mac Pro be a great Server too? The answer is, of course it could.
There are two main things server administrators care about: reliability and redundancy. RAID arrays, multiple power supplies, and servers backing up servers all lead to hardware uptime. The new Mac Pro’s six Thunderbolt 2 ports make adding a speedy RAID drive setup easy. The only thing the machine lacks is dual power supplies (in case one fails). However, thinking of all the Macs (including Xserves) I've ever owned and all the Macs my friends and family have ever owned, I only know of one power supply failure — and that was on a iMac that was over seven years old. Apple spends great effort on sourcing quality components, so the risk in a power supply failure in this new Mac Pro is about as likely as getting struck by lighting twice in the same day.
The new Mac Pro is only 6.6 inches wide, and 9.9 inches tall. Fitting into traditional server racks will prove challenging, but solutions are likely to arrive. Companies like Sonnet, who have already produced 1U Mac mini server solutions, will need to deliver a 6U or 7U solution with cooling tray and cable management. Most small businesses renting storage space at co-locations have at least a quarter if not half locker, thus vertical space for the Mac Pro (more often than not) will be available. Once rack solutions arrive, migrating to Mac Pros should not prove all that difficult.
While OS X Mavericks was demoed yesterday, it was not clear whether a server app would be part of the next generation OS. We have to think it will be, but that could be a deal breaker for Mac OS X server administrators if there is no such app.
Phil did say this was a sneak peak, meaning we didn't see everything. For example, pricing and configuration options are still unknown. Ship date was even vague — “later in 2013.” So perhaps there will be a server solution like the Mac Mini Server, only time will tell. In any case, this was a great day for Mac Pro users everywhere. The design is stunning and the specifications would lead one to believe it will cook through whatever project they are need to be used for, even in the roll of a server.
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