Apple Server Hardware

Apple discontinues Mac mini server, limits storage options with

The answer is "Yes, they do!" (Err, I mean "they did.") Xserves were real 1U rack mounted servers, like this:

More important than the server hardware, though, is that just like Windows, Mac OS X comes in both server and workstation flavors. At this point Apple is still committed to the server OS. Last week's announcement is just that they're not going to build their own dedicated server hardware anymore.

So a server version of Mac OS X with no server hardware? Where are you supposed to run this thing? Apple is suggesting two options: either the "server" edition of the Mac Mini (basically a regular Mac Mini with the optical drive replaced by a second hardware), or a Mac Pro workstation (their full-size desktop workstation).

No matter how you look at the decision to kill the 1U rack-mounted Xserve line, it makes sense. The base Xserve sells for USD$3, 000 and includes a single quad-core processor, 3GB RAM, and a single SATA drive. Similarly-configured servers from Dell or HP cost well under $1, 000. (Even subtracting $500 from the Xserve for the cost of the Mac OS X Server license, you're still looking at about a 2-3x price premium for the Apple hardware.) Of course the "Apple Tax" is nothing new, as Apple products have always carried a premium over non-Apple versions of similarly-powered systems. The main difference is that in the case of servers, the price premium for Apple's industrial design doesn't really make sense. (I mean who cares how pretty your servers look?)

So now that Mac OS X Server is only supported on desktops, where does that leave enterprises who want to use it? Do you think they'll put shelves back in their datacenters and fill them with desktops? Of course not! And the main reason they won't is not because they don't want to put this kind of hardware in their datacenters, but because OS X Server is not exactly something that enterprises use. Sure, it's great for workgroups and collaboration. But any serious environment is going to have other products to do these things.

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