Forgive the ignorant question...what can I *do* with an Xserve?

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by akm3, Apr 12, 2009.

  1. akm3 macrumors 68020

    Nov 15, 2007
    OK OK, I know I'll get flamed. I am smart enough to know that the answer to this question is 'if you have to ask, there is no possible way you are in the market for one' - and I agree. I am not in the market for an Xserve. What I am trying to do, and I hope some folks will help me without tearing me too big a new hole, is to just explain some of the thinking that would go into those who do need an Xserve, what they would do with it.

    I understand they are servers. Why would someone choose an Xserve over competitors servers? In the consumer space, Apple brings style and ease of use. What do they bring in the enterprise space?

    What kinds of 'stupid pet tricks' can you do with Leopard server?

    At what stage would a business have grown far enough to go 'a HA! I need an Xserve to handle X Y Z'. What types of businesses actually use these things?

    Compared to 'normal' macs, I get that they have lots of data and component redundancy and management features built in, but so do all other servers. What does an Xserve, and specifically Leopard OS X bring to an average enterprise? How about a Mac using enterprise?

    I understand they are actually a very good value for the hardware compared to competitors servers (kind of the opposite argument you typically hear about Macs)

    Help me out. Who What When Where and How do folks benefit from these, and what are their competitive advantages?
  2. Minuteman3 macrumors member


    Jan 30, 2009
    This is actually a very good question. I'd like to learn more about the apps that are bundled with the OS. I'm assuming that OS X for a server is different from OS X for the Mac.

    I have several clients who are currently on MS Small Business Server and we've talked about maybe looking at the Mac platform. I've had Macs in my office for over a year and know how to make them "work." But I'd like to learn more about the server side as I was unaware that they even had a "competitor".

    Thanks in advance.

  3. allmIne macrumors 6502a


    Sep 17, 2008
    United Kingdom
    Nobody will tear you a new one - those are great questions, that I'd love to hear the answers to myself. Will check out the link buddybuy posted when I get a minute.

  4. steve2112 macrumors 68040


    Feb 20, 2009
    East of Lyra, Northwest of Pegasus
    Well, it's been a couple of years since I worked on an XServe, so my specifics may be off. At one of my former jobs, our PR/AV dept. had a small Mac network and an Xserve/XRaid/XSan setup.

    To be honest, unless they are Mac exclusive or Mac heavy, most businesses don't really need an Xserve. Integrating OSX into a Windows network has become easier over the years, and they can talk to each other fairly well. In my case, though, having the Xserve just made life easier. We had a small LAN strictly for the Macs, and didn't have to worry about trying to integrate them into our AD structure. OSX and Active Directory may talk to each other nowdays, but that doesn't mean it's an easy thing. Having the XServer just made life much easier, and it made running the Mac LAN much easier. Even though I hated the marketing phrase, it "just worked". We could control software updates, imaging, etc.

    Someone mentioned Microsoft's SBS system, and the Xserve reminds me of that. The Xserve can be the file server, web server, mail server, etc., all in a nice 1U box.

    Basically, if you have a decent amount of Macs in a network, the XServe may be worth checking out. It can be a file server, web server, mail server, and even an app server. I know Alex Lindsay of Pixel Corp says they use Xserves in a cluster to run their FX and 3d modeling apps. If your business doesn't have a lot of Macs on the network, it may not be worth it.
  5. SnowLeopard2008 macrumors 604


    Jul 4, 2008
    Silicon Valley
    I think that the people that do use Xserves are businesses that use certain Pro mac applications like Final Cut, Logic, Pro Tools, etc. Xserves can also be used, as previously stated, for web servers, email servers, app servers (like I mentioned before), and run in clusters. I think you can even configure them to run batch processes. For example, if you work on a movie (like a Hollywood one to say) and have to convert the movie to a certain format, you can send the file over to the Xserve to convert (using Apple Qmaster) and work on something else on your computer.
  6. akm3 thread starter macrumors 68020

    Nov 15, 2007
    Has anyone else actually deployed these anywhere?

    I'm particularly interested in a situation where someone has deployed them in a current windows environment where they WEREN'T supporting Macs.
  7. erzeszut macrumors regular

    Jul 13, 2007
    I'm currently running two XServes, the previous generation G5 model and a 1.5-year old quad-core Xeon model.

    I support a university department of approximately 175 computers. Our client computers are roughly 50/50 split between Macs and PCs, with a few Linux clients thrown in as well.

    I use my Xserves for file serving, print serving, and web serving. In the past, I've done some email and application serving with these boxes as well.

    Once they are up and running, they run beautifully, and are less hassle and more reliable than any of the PC servers I've run in the past.

    Notice I said "once they are up and running."

    Getting an XServe to play nicely in a PC/Mac hybrid environment can be a bit tricky. Especially when I brought the original XServe online. I was new to this job, transitioning this department from their previous Windows file, email, print, and web servers.

    March 2005 was a whole lot of fun for me, let me tell you!! :D

    I still recommend the XServes; in a hybrid PC/Mac environment I would recommend them *with caution* -- read the documentation first and know what you're getting into. In some cases, a hybrid environment may be better served by a Windoze server, depending on what your needs are and what the percentage split of PC/Mac clients happens to be.

    For anyone lucky enough to work in an environment with only Mac clients (or Mac and Linux clients) the decision is a no-brainer. The XServe works beautifully in an all-Mac situation.

    Management tools are good, lots of pretty (it is Apple, after all!) status reporting and workgroup management tools. Most tools will also run on OS X client, so you can use your desktop Mac or your Mac at home to keep an eye on your server(s).

    Reliability has been great (knock wood). Our original XServe G5, purchased in February 2005, is still running strong. Has never needed any hardware replacement. I'm currently using it as a webserver and a Time Machine server for a couple of our critical desktops. If it dies tomorrow, it's not a catastrophe.

    RAID management tools improved greatly in 10.5 Server. I'm running three 500GB drives in a RAID5, giving me 1TB of usable storage.

    Anyway, overall I've been happy with the XServes. As I said, the original one was a bear to get off the ground, and the 10.3 to 10.4 transition was a little tricky as well. But like most things Apple, the product is improving over time, and I would recommend them wholeheartedly in a Mac-only environment, and with the caveats mentioned above in a hybrid environment.

    PM me if you need more details.

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