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Apple IT Hardware

Among Servers, Apple's Mac Mini Quietly Gains Ground 367

Posted by timothy
from the if-you-can't-see-it-is-it-beautiful? dept.
Nerval's Lobster writes "In 2005, the first business to offer colocated Mac Minis inside a data center made its debut, provoking criticism on Slashdot of everything from how the Mini was cooled to the underlying business model. But nowadays, more than half a dozen facilities are either hosting their own Mac Minis for rent, or offering colocation services for individual consumers and businesses. While some vendors declined to give out reliability information, those who did claimed a surprisingly small number of failures. 'If Dell makes a small little machine, you don't know that they'll be making that, in that form factor, six months down the road, or what they're going to do, or how they're going to refresh it,' Jon Schwenn, a network engineer for CyberLynk Networks (which owns Macminivault) said in an interview. 'We've had three model years of Minis that have stayed externally, physically identical.' Customers are using Minis for all sorts of things: providing Mail, iCal, and the Websites for small businesses; databases, like Filemaker or Daylite; as a VPN server for those who want an IP address in the United States; build servers for Xcode; and general personal servers for Plex media streaming and other fun projects. Some are even using it for Windows."
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Among Servers, Apple's Mac Mini Quietly Gains Ground

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  • by Jeremi (14640) on Friday March 01, 2013 @08:53PM (#43051511) Homepage

    They specifically allow OS X Server to be virtualized.

    ... on Mac hardware only. Which brings us back to the matter at hand, needing Mac hardware in order to run Mac software.

  • by node 3 (115640) on Friday March 01, 2013 @09:07PM (#43051579)

    More likely at some point they'd tout some ARM multi-core with keyboard snap on (ala the Asus Transformer) as the "future of Macs" and kill the X86 line, it just doesn't fit well with their current business strategy.

    No. How is it you can spout this nonsense for years now, and still think it makes any sense? I'm sure that Apple is constantly assessing their use of Intel chips, and is looking at ARM-based Macs, but there's no way they are going to completely switch to ARM unless they can make better ARM Macs than they can Intel Macs, and that day is not coming any time soon.

    It's definitely possible, but you take a silly axiom (that Apple must control everything), and apply it to absurd extremes (that Apple will kill the Mac to make it wholly controlled by them).

    You're drunk hairyfeet, go home.

  • by otuz (85014) on Friday March 01, 2013 @09:08PM (#43051585) Homepage

    What most of you fail to understand is the TCO. The hardware costs nothing in comparison to how little time they need for setup and maintenance. If one fails, big deal; get a new one and restore it from the backup and it's running with a few minutes of work. Need more capacity or redundancy? Just get another and it's running within minutes. Need more demanding mass storage and/or networking? Plug that into the convenient external PCIe bus (Thunderbolt). Basically lim(0) setup time there too.

    I still run my own servers as dedicated co-located generic Linux boxes, but the setup still takes roughly a day; not hours or minutes. That time isn't billable and I schedule it to days I can't do anything productive. If something fails without warning and requires immediate action, it's a day subtracted from writing billable hours of code, which per se costs about the same as a Mac Mini Server. For the customers of mine who need dedicated units for one reason or another, the Mac Minis pay for themselves just in the initial setup work alone, and they can manage them by themselves, just like my mom is able to manage her MacBook with maybe a support call every few years, when she wants an opinion on a hardware upgrade or such.

    After the Mac Mini servers got the i7 CPU's, none of my customers chose a Linux option when presented with the cost breakdown. From the software perspective, my code isn't picky about which Unix or unix-like it's running on. Almost anything goes, as long as the system dependencies are installed. OS X Server just happens to have all the system dependencies preinstalled in the shipping configuration as well as everything else they typically might need.

    In a small or medium scale setup or a large scale setup of heterogenous systems, Linux is cheap only if time doesn't cost anything, or the comparison baseline is something even worse; Microsoft Windows or such. Linux-based setups may also be feasible for certain large scale installations of homogenous nodes.

  • Ain't gonna die (Score:5, Informative)

    by towermac (752159) on Friday March 01, 2013 @09:18PM (#43051659)

    I have an original 1.42 Ghz mini sitting on my desk running nightly reports. It was a CFO's desktop for a year, (for a tiny company), and it's been running reports since then.

    iCal repeating events tell Filemaker to query MSSQL databases, which outputs Excel files, which are manipulated using Applescript. Mail emails the finished and highly formatted reports to various people in the company. Pretty damned easy to work with, given the magic "Record" button. I used to have it print overnight, but that became too old school.

    It still has the Apple serial number in the disk info box - never even been formatted. Still has 512K Ram. Never misses a beat. I guess for 8 years now. Put that ROI in your pipe and smoke it.

    I should still probably get around to backing it up someday..

  • by fnj (64210) on Friday March 01, 2013 @11:07PM (#43052109)

    What part of "stayed externally, physically identical" are you failing to understand?

    Do you have the slightest idea what you are talking about? The current Mac Mini (post 2010) is 196x196x36mm and the AC cord plugs directly into it. The physical first generation (2005-2010) was 170x170x51mm and had an external power brick. That is not "externally, physically identical".

  • by nabsltd (1313397) on Saturday March 02, 2013 @01:25AM (#43052605)

    The question is, what's the processing or storage density of a bunch of Mac Minis vs a racked configuration?

    You can place 4 Mac Mini boxes in on a 1U rack shelf, assuming the shelf runs the entire depth of the rack. With the 4-core, 8-thread Core i7 processor in the current models, you can get slightly better thread density than most other 1U servers. For memory, other 1U servers will do much better than the 64GB mas combined in the Macs. For storage, the Mini loses badly, as it can only hold two 2.5" drives, and cannot easily or securely connect to a SAN (as it would have to be on the same layer 2 network as the Ethernet connection to the Internet).

    Since you are paying for a lot of things you won't use in a colo environment (WiFi, Bluetooth, Thunderbolt, IR receiver, Firewire, SD card slot, audio), you could almost certainly build a machine of the same specs (and close to the same form factor) for less. The only real advantage is that you can sell people individual physical servers if they don't trust virtual machines for some reason. If you go virtual, you can quite easily put more utilized processor, memory, and hard disk in the same amount of rack space as the Mac Mini setup, but you likely couldn't do it with 1U systems.

  • by serviscope_minor (664417) on Sunday March 03, 2013 @02:41PM (#43062947) Journal

    The author/owner of a piece of work gets to decide who gets to derive benefit from it,

    Not if they release it under copyright, they don't. See, for example, compulsory licensing in music, and fair use across the board.

    Like I said, if they want control, then they should make everyone sign licenses. Abusing copyright to be far more restrictive than copyright was intended for is freeloading.

    Why should software get a free pass on this one and be able to enforce arbitrary restrictions under copyright?

    And I fully support both GPL and BSD licenses and the spirit in which they were written.

    That's a complete red herring. Neither of those licenses attempt to restrict you beyond what copyright already does. They are not EULAs.


    So why shouldn't I support Apple's OSX license and the spirit it was written/sold? And that makes me a corporate apologist?

    Because selling something under copyright is not the same as licensing and they're getting the best of both worlds: the arbitrary restrictions of licensing with the free enforcement paid for by my taxes.

    And if you feel that the GPL has no restrictions, you should go read it again.

    If you believe that the GPL is an EULA and attempts to restrict you beyond what copyright already does, then you need to read it again.

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