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Apple Hardware

Apple To Discontinue Xserve 304

Toe, The writes "Apple has announced that they are discontinuing their line of 1u rack-mount servers. With their usual understated style, the announcement comes in the form of a box on their website and a transition guide (PDF) to their low-end Mac mini server or their now-more-powerful-than-Xserve Mac Pro server. Attitudes about the Xserve have ranged from considering it a token nod to enterprise to an underpowered wimp to a tremendous value. Apparently, the migration to Intel processors removed some of the value of clustering Xserves, leaving them somewhat overpriced compared to other, more traditional offerings. The odd thing is that Apple clearly has shown they have the capacity for enterprise, but rarely the will to take it on. So, does the discontinuation of their rack-mount mean they have abandoned enterprise for their post-PC offerings, or are they simply acknowledging that their products aren't gaining traction in the data center? Or do they have something else up their sleeve for next year?"
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Apple To Discontinue Xserve

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  • by jhigh ( 657789 ) on Friday November 05, 2010 @10:56AM (#34136088)
    It would never dawn on me to use a Mac for anything other than the desktop. While I'm sure that they make perfectly capable server products, I would wager that the perception that Apple is primarily suited for making products that target the end user rather than the enterprise is a substantial hurdle for Apple. Frankly, I think that this is one of the hurdles that keeps Linux from being as widely adopted as a desktop platform. People hear *nix and, if they think anything at all, they think "server."
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 05, 2010 @10:58AM (#34136116)

    If it is stored in a rack mount somewhere in the basement? I thought the point was that others could see the Apple logo and see how different (and better) you are.

  • No big loss (Score:3, Insightful)

    by jellomizer ( 103300 ) on Friday November 05, 2010 @11:01AM (#34136140)

    I think the only people who got these things were Mac Fanboys. Don't get me wrong, I like Mac. But I would never have recommended Apple Servers in a business settings.

    1. You are stuck on one platform. It is like getting a Sun Solaris platform but worse because apple never really had a strong enterprise department.

    2. You didn't get any real extra functionality over a Linux/BSD even Windows servers.

    3. There is 0 fore-site on what will happen for the next version. What new features. Apple is too closed

    4. You had limited options. So that means you are paying for stuff you don't need

    5. Limited server tools. Sure the Apple stuff is good but you need that one extra tool that apple doesn't support.

    Like Apple or Hate Apple, it really isn't a good server platform.

  • by 1984 ( 56406 ) on Friday November 05, 2010 @11:07AM (#34136238)

    Well I guess that answers the question about what *didn't* go in that big new data center.

    In a previous life several years ago we looked at buying 300 of them to run Yellow Dog (yes, several years). They were nicely engineered units, but Apple clearly wasn't series about enterprise sales. They offered a kit of spare parts for field replacements, but not much beyond that.

  • Re:No big loss (Score:2, Insightful)

    by 0racle ( 667029 ) on Friday November 05, 2010 @11:15AM (#34136364)

    2. You didn't get any real extra functionality over a Linux/BSD even Windows servers.

    If you ran Mac Desktops, OpenDirectory was a very handy way to manage them, OS X Server also has the tools to deploy images. Yes, you can run OS X Server on MacPros and now Mini's but neither really fit in if you already have a server room set up.

    Limited options? You got the whole thing, OS X Server with unlimited licenses for $1000, cheaper then Enterprise Linux or Windows.

    Limited Server tools? Have you ever actually used OS X Server? It has it's tools for every server daemon that ships with it.

    It's only no big loss because Apple didn't want to create an Enterprise division, but if you ran OS X desktops then OS X Server was a pretty good investment.

  • by fusiongyro ( 55524 ) <faxfreemosquito AT yahoo DOT com> on Friday November 05, 2010 @11:31AM (#34136592) Homepage

    I think you are on the right track, but you have cause and effect backwards. Apple strives to be a consumer company. I was confused by Apple's Xraid/Xsan and Xserve products, because they don't really fit in the same milieu. If anything, I wonder if offering Xserves and Xraids was just a way for them to kill harbored distrust of OS X inherited from OS 9. After all, OS X had some big hurdles to overcome from OS 9. Supplying even a couple universities with Xserves demonstrated that OS X and Apple in particular were making high-performance machines, a worthy continuation of their NeXT legacy, and dispelled any fears about inherited OS 9isms. So from this standpoint, the product line was a success, but it is no longer required.

    From another standpoint, remember that Xserves were first brought onto the market was during the bubble, before "the cloud" was a thing. My first employer had an Xserve simply because he found the idea of managing it better than the idea of managing a hosted Linux server. Colocation was cheaper than paying for a managed server. For small business owners--particularly Mac software developers--it made more sense to them than learning how to administer Linux or paying another employee to do it. Familiarity is worth something.

    Remember also the market conditions when Xserves were brought out. They weren't the only vendor selling their own weird Unix in a 1U. SGI, Sun, and HP at least were also selling their own servers running their own Unixes. The market was nowhere near as homogenized as it is now, and it was plausible at the time that OS X Server could become as important as the competition. It turns out people don't buy servers for the same reasons they buy desktops. That wasn't necessarily obvious five or ten years ago.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 05, 2010 @11:31AM (#34136594)

    Apple's hardware support was abysmal for their servers. And by support, I'm not talking about drivers, I'm talking about their ability to fix a broken system.

    I've called Apple to get parts for failed Xserves, and they have taken WEEKS to ship for systems covered under applecare. They also think it's entirely fine to tell you to bring an Xserve in to an authorized repair center. I mean, *what?*

    Just because a server is available in a 1U form factor doesn't mean it's an enterprise system. You can't support enterprise hardware the same way you support iPods.

  • by anti-human 1 ( 911677 ) on Friday November 05, 2010 @11:32AM (#34136618) Journal
    I would say good luck getting OSX to drive your HP's SCSI array, or your Dell's quad-port NIC.

    Compatibility lists are always your friend in the land of hackintosh. You might be able to do something with 3U or 4U generic cases. Support would likely go out the window too.
  • by antifoidulus ( 807088 ) on Friday November 05, 2010 @11:36AM (#34136670) Homepage Journal
    The move would make sense if Apple were a car company(ha! car metaphor ftw!) Discontinuing one line of a car company's models has almost 0 effect on the other model that company makes. However in computing, esp. with a company like Apple, it's actually a different beast. While the XServe may not have had many sales by itself, it really was an enabler for companies to move more stuff towards the mac(and by extension iOS devices). Apple's biggest strength really has been that they are a one stop shop for your entire computing ecosystem. You can move your company to Apple, and while you will pay a little bit more for the hardware, the fact that Apple has designed the whole ecosystem(hardware, software etc) to work with eachother means that you will save money and time when it comes to support. However recently with the discontinuation of Java and now the XServe Apple is really saying, "We are a gizmo company. We make other stuff, but if it isn't gizmo related we really don't care'

    The knock-on effects of this decision are going to be pretty bad for Apple. Apple was finally making inroads in the enterprise, only to do something as stupid as this. Not only that, companies now have 0 faith in the future of Apple. They have shown time and again that they have 0 problems discontinuing product lines/platforms on a whim. How is a developer supposed to plan anything when Apple can just cancel it? Are we really supposed to put our reputation with our customers(which translates into our livelihoods in a lot of circumstances) in Steve's hands when he has shown 0 qualms about discontinuing products at a moments notice? You can bet that any sysadmin/architect who convinced their boss to buy XServes in the past couple months is so is worried sick about how said boss will interpret this news. And you can be sure as shit that said sysadmin won't be nearly as enthusiastic about Apple products in the future. I know I'm not.

    Steve is destroying the very thing that made him big in the first place, and I wonder how much longer Apple will even be around. They seem to be putting all their eggs in the consumer products basket, and there is a long line of companies that don't exist or are a shell of their former selves who went down that exact same road. AAPL will be at 0 before decades end unless someone stops Steve, and probably even if they do. I'm waiting until WWDC when Apple reveals Lion to short AAPL big time.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 05, 2010 @11:37AM (#34136698)

    I wouldn't be surprised if Apple were running a bunch of IBM/Dell/HP rack servers, with OS X on the frontend servers, and the database backend servers running something more capable (Linux, AIX, whatever). TCO for the hardware is undoubtedly lower than their own hardware (though, I suspect they might have been able to leverage the fact that they actually don't have to pay an external body), and the software maintenance on a DIY webstack that nobody else uses is a real pain in the ass.

    Alternatively, I'd not be surprised if they were their own biggest Xserve customer. If that's the case, I'm not surprised at all that they're discontinuing the line: due to produced numbers, it's undoubtedly quite expensive for them.

  • by hellraizer ( 1689320 ) on Friday November 05, 2010 @11:45AM (#34136836) Homepage
    That my friend is one of the greatest problems with Mac/Linux adoption, IT boys are affraid of loosing "power" and are not willing to learn anything new. I speak as a IT boy who supports both Mac and linux servers, but I learned to loose that fear and jump right in . I find it to be much easier to maintain a OS X server or a linux server than to maintain Windowze ....
  • by TheKidWho ( 705796 ) on Friday November 05, 2010 @11:55AM (#34137030)

    IBM - Market cap of $182 Billion with $23.7 billion quarterly revenue
    Apple - Market cap of $291 Billion with $20.3 billion quarterly revenue

  • Re:No big loss (Score:1, Insightful)

    by remus.cursaru ( 1423703 ) on Friday November 05, 2010 @11:57AM (#34137072)
    > 2) Set up times are not faster then Linux. Assuming both have the equivalent skill set experience. What the hell? It's an "one time only" job.
  • by Graff ( 532189 ) on Friday November 05, 2010 @11:59AM (#34137102)

    IBM is substantially bigger.

    Now there are many ways for measuring the size of a business but one widely-accepted method is market cap.

    As of 11:57 AM EDT or so:

    Apple's market cap [yahoo.com]: 291.57B

    IBM's market cap [yahoo.com]: 182.11B

    By at least one common measuring method you can see that it is Apple which is substantially bigger than IBM.

  • by theolein ( 316044 ) on Friday November 05, 2010 @12:09PM (#34137288) Journal

    I'm the system admin for a large design company (4 Xservers and one XRaid that replaced 4 Linux boxes about 4 years ago). This is pretty fucking awful news for us, and I'll lay out the reasons:

    1. Apple's servers are very easy to manage. Much easier than Windows or Linux machines.

    2. Apple's Workgroup management features are much easier to use than the Windows or Linux equivalents.

    3. Apple File Sharing being able to mix AFP/SMB and NFS seamlessly was world class.

    All of this led to large productivity gains in that much less time was being spent on admin tasks than necessary.

    So now that's gone.


    And, what worries me more is that I can see Apple killing traditional OSX on Macs in favour of iOS as well.

    I think Apple just lost a customer in us because we can't trust them anymore.

  • Re:No big loss (Score:3, Insightful)

    by LWATCDR ( 28044 ) on Friday November 05, 2010 @12:15PM (#34137376) Homepage Journal

    I think part of the problem was that if you used XServe you where destined to end up with a mixed environment. It really was very un apple like.
    Need a SAN? Not really a good Apple Solution for that.
    Need a lot of small 1U servers for front ends?
    Need a 4U 4S box for a database server?
    In a way I am shocked that Apple is letting this one go. Maybe we will see some 1U A4 based servers. An A4 based server with two net ports some sata ports and wifi could be a great solution for a small business.
    Come up with a VOIP solution that works with the iPhone over wifi and you could have really slick solution. The VOIP PBX could sense when your wifi client is logged in and could route calls to your iPhone over VOIP. When you leave the office it could then route them to your cell number.
    Asterix can already do some of that but I could see Apple making it all nice and pretty.

    Of course Apple could just walk away from the datacenter. They are making money hand over fist as it is and the iPhone and Macbook are already in the enterprise space. The iPad is also heading into it very quickly.
    Maybe hardcore servers are not something Apple really wants to do.

  • by Just Some Guy ( 3352 ) <kirk+slashdot@strauser.com> on Friday November 05, 2010 @12:22PM (#34137492) Homepage Journal

    What do you in your datacenter that would result in a server becoming airborne?

    Oh, and you've never had a server crash?

  • by TheRaven64 ( 641858 ) on Friday November 05, 2010 @01:20PM (#34138530) Journal

    Not at all, it means that the market for companies that have racks and want to run OS X Server is small. Now they have the Mac Mini Server, they have a product that can go into small offices that don't have somewhere for a rack-mounted system.

    The XServe was never a product that Apple created to sell. They created it because they have a lot of data centres of their own (to drive their site, the QuickTime Movie Trailers hosting, Apple Store, iTunes Store, and so on) and they didn't want to be buying a load of servers from a competitor to run them. They sold it because, having already designed and built it for un-house use there was no reason not to, but the potential market for a rack-mounted OS X box was small enough that it wouldn't have been worth their while designing it just for sale.

    So what does this announcement actually mean? That they are no longer planning on using XServes in their own data centres. My guess is that they're planning on having their ARM team design a Cortex A15 SoC with ethernet, crypto hardware, and SATA on die and make tiny blade servers for internal use. They almost certainly won't want to ship OS X Server for ARM for external use, because supporting another architecture would be a lot of effort for little return, but they might do if the market looks big enough.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 05, 2010 @01:55PM (#34139130)

    And yet, sadly, this article does not have the "And nothing of value was lost" tag.

  • by node 3 ( 115640 ) on Friday November 05, 2010 @01:58PM (#34139180)

    Well, perhaps businesses will understand that, and understand that going all Mac has problems because of that.

    That's a silly conclusion to come to. No one suggests that business go "all Mac", except maybe small businesses which are wholly unaffected by this.

    Similarly, it would be problematic for businesses to go all Linux (in fact, that's more problematic than going all Mac, although still feasible on smaller scales, and very feasible if limited solely to the data center, although Solaris and AIX have a place there too).

    Going all Windows is somewhat more feasible, but even that breaks down as server needs increase.

  • by raddan ( 519638 ) * on Friday November 05, 2010 @02:52PM (#34139984)
    Fortunately for you, you don't need the Xserves to continue your services. Linux or FreeBSD (or OpenBSD... that's what I admined for 7 years) will suit you just fine. You can continue to run LDAP, Kerberos, Samba, Netatalk, and what have you and you can do it with commodity machines. You can keep parts on the shelf, and when something fails, you replace it yourself, in minutes.

    With Apple's stuff, you get a slick GUI on top of software that is already out there for free, plus the additional bullshit of letting them accuse you of stealing from them* when they send you the wrong part. Any self-respecting IT person would simply pony up and learn how to do it on the CLI. Trust me, you'll be happier when you can buy 2 machines instead of 1.

    * True story. A RAID card failed in our Xserve, and Apple sent me a CD-ROM drive. Wha? Both Apple's on-site technician saw this. But when I called the company to explain their mistake, the support person on the phone said that such a mistake was 1) impossible, and he accused me of 2) lying for the purpose of 3) stealing their parts. Well, fuck you very much Apple. My experiences trying to run Apple in the data center made a lifelong Apple fan (me), a person whose first computer was a Mac (SE), bought with paper route money, swear never to buy Apple again (uh... except an iPhone... guess my promises aren't very good...).
  • by Dr.Dubious DDQ ( 11968 ) on Friday November 05, 2010 @03:13PM (#34140264) Homepage

    Actually, I think the previous post is probably right, at least in the long run.

    If there's one thing the popularity of iPhone/iPad had demonstrated, it's that most people don't really use their computers much. They have a hugely capable desktop machine that they use for "facebook", email, and "youtube", and that's about it for most of them.

    I'm a pretty hardcore penguinista myself, but even I doubt that a standard full-service (by today's "PC" standards) Linux desktop will ever conquer the market, or even a large minority of it. However, I think the current "desktop" market is mostly doomed outside of "enterprise" and hardcore power-user settings. Now that "consumer" gadgets have gotten cheap and powerful enough to do what the great majority of "users" seem to do with their computers, there's no need for it any more. All those people who are "completely befuddled when they don't see the start button" will be migrating their way over to even-simpler environments like Android and iOS and perhaps Windows 7 Series 7 Phone 7 Series (or whatever they were calling it), which I actually kind of expect will cannibalize BlackBerry for corporate users.

    My personal prediction: Microsoft is busy fossilizing into the New IBM (firmly embedded in many "corporate" environments but fading out of the "consumer" market), while Apple clamps down on its users and gets increasingly ruthless with its market control to become the New Microsoft. I expect Linux to grow solidly on the internet server side and on corporate servers.

    I actually expect the Android/Apple landscape in the "consumer" side to end up looking a lot like the Microsoft/Apple market now - I'm guessing we'll end up with a solid majority made up of various Android devices, with Apple being a minority (but a relatively large and reliable one).

    There, a free wild prediction, and you didn't even have to look at ads on ZDNet or some other commercial publication to get it.

    tl;dr: Yes, I agree that Microsoft will likely hold onto the "traditional desktop" market for as long as that market stays around, but I don't think that market is going to exist for that much longer now.

  • by PCM2 ( 4486 ) on Friday November 05, 2010 @03:53PM (#34140876) Homepage

    That's a whole lot of speculation.

    The way I remember it, Apple sold a lot of Xserves into media environments, for digital video processing, basic file storage, etc. Musicians and A/V professionals have a natural affinity for Macs and little interest in maintaining servers, so a plug-and-play server that worked with their Macs was a natural choice. Unfortunately, it's not a particularly large market.

    Xserves were nice machines, but building and maintaining bulletproof server hardware -- including continually producing new models that keep up with the ongoing upgrade cycles from Intel and other component vendors -- just doesn't make sense if the products aren't competitive in the market. And Apple's servers weren't going to be competitive until it started shipping models with Linux and/or Windows Server as an option. Instead, Apple tried to be Sun and found out it simply didn't have the expertise and market savvy to be Sun -- and then, look what happened to Sun.

    They almost certainly won't want to ship OS X Server for ARM for external use, because supporting another architecture would be a lot of effort for little return, but they might do if the market looks big enough.

    So they're going to use it exclusively in-house, to the extent that they're going to replace all their Xserves, but they don't have enough faith in the ARM port to sell it? Just the fact that they put it into production use in-house means they'd have to "support" it. I think you're reaching.

  • by fusiongyro ( 55524 ) <faxfreemosquito AT yahoo DOT com> on Friday November 05, 2010 @04:28PM (#34141340) Homepage

    And, what worries me more is that I can see Apple killing traditional OSX on Macs in favour of iOS as well.

    Lots of people are saying this, but I really don't see evidence for it. They're certainly going to grow the two towards each other, but for the next ten years at least, I don't see any gains to be had by doing this. You can't program on an iPad, and Apple depends crucially on 3rd-party developers to fill their app stores. They can't make OS X too onerous or they'll drive developers away.

    I can easily see them pushing iPad and other iOS devices for ordinary consumers, but they have always depended on being able to court the expert users with things like Logic and Final Cut and developers with their free tools and copious documentation. Expert users are not intimidated by traditional computers and would rather have powerful features than the most intuitive interface. Apple certainly intends to maximize profit, which will mean maximizing the iPad and simple tools with intuitive interfaces, but they can't undermine OS X without undermining their developers and power users, which would in turn undermine everything else they make.

  • by gumbi west ( 610122 ) on Friday November 05, 2010 @09:33PM (#34144382) Journal

    why can't you just set up a zeroconf/bonjour service...

    zeroconf fail.

  • by evilviper ( 135110 ) on Saturday November 06, 2010 @03:13AM (#34145774) Journal

    Why does everyone think Apple stopped making servers? They just stopped making xserves.

    You apparently don't know what a server is.

    With Apple calling their Mac Mini a "server", I think it's safe to say, no, Apple doesn't make servers anymore. They put an OS with file-sharing and directory services on a desktop PC and sell it to the gullible.

    Even with their "Pro server", it has NO LIGHTS-OUT MANAGEMENT, NO REDUNDANT POWER SUPPLIES, NO RACK-MOUNTING, etc. This is a "server" in the same way an old Packard Bell PC with Windows 2003 installed is a "Server" (ie. it's not).

  • by node 3 ( 115640 ) on Saturday November 06, 2010 @03:23AM (#34145806)

    - Desktops.
    - Interoperability with the outside Windows world.
    - Sometimes absolutely shitty hardware support.
    - Sometimes kludgy solutions to problems that are elegantly solved by proprietary software.

    I don't mean to say that you can't make an all Linux solution work, but you can also make an all Windows solution work, and an all Mac solution work. For all the problems I listed, there are ways to work around them, but that doesn't make them non-problems, just like every single Windows and Mac problem can be worked around as well.

    There are also scenarios where going monoculture can be no problem. For example an ISP could go 100% Linux, no problem. An art studio could go 100% Mac, no problem. And a stock broker could go 100% Windows, no problem.

    But just as it's the hard and honest truth that going all Windows or all Mac can be problematic, the truth is that going all Linux brings with it its own problems.

The wages of sin are high but you get your money's worth.