Will Apple return with the Xserve?

Discussion in 'Mac OS X Server, Xserve, and Networking' started by gavinstubbs09, Feb 1, 2014.

  1. gavinstubbs09 macrumors 65816


    Feb 17, 2013
    NorCal boonies ~~~by Reno sorta
    I am one that is hoping so. Using a mini isn't all that viable if you want to have things like super easy access to swapping hard drives and dual power supplies. The older Mac Pros work fine enough but the nMP and mini, where do you add hard drive expansion without going external - you can't! Now all apple sells as a server is the mini which may be fine for home but schools, businesses, whatever, minis don't work.

    What do you all think?
  2. NT1440 macrumors G4


    May 18, 2008
    There are many schools and places of business that do exactly this.

    That said, the Xserve is not coming back. If they do anything it'll be a cloud based service (which I understand is definitely not the same thing).
  3. gavinstubbs09 thread starter macrumors 65816


    Feb 17, 2013
    NorCal boonies ~~~by Reno sorta
    I personally set up a lab of 30 iMacs months ago and we had bought a mini server and it was not up to snuff. Slow, couldn't stand the continuos read/write from everyone accessing files on their profile drive, it was a mess. We got one of the last Mac Pros and that actually seemed to do really well for speed and it didn't take several minutes for a student to sign in.
  4. ratsg macrumors 6502

    Dec 6, 2010
  5. Consultant macrumors G5


    Jun 27, 2007
    For a lab, you need to use Thunderbolt RAID with Mac Mini to have comparable read / write speed as the new Mac Pro.
  6. Alrescha macrumors 68020

    Jan 1, 2008
    While we loved Snow Leopard Server, the loss of the Xserve and Apple's direction with Server has caused my company to return to FreeBSD for new servers. We had high hopes, but the future seems set.

  7. Mr-Stabby macrumors 6502

    Sep 1, 2004
    We actually bought some second hand XServes for our 150 machines at work very recently, as even the most modern of Macs aren't up to scratch if you want to host more than a couple of machines. It's clearly not just us either, because second hand XServes go for close to their original selling price on eBay, even though the machine was discontinued 3 years ago. Yes you can run Macs from Linux or Windows servers if you like, but even the cut down OS X Server is a much more palatable option for easily managing Macs and iPads.

    Now that the cheese grater Mac Pro has been discontinued, there really is no proper Mac server solution any more which is really irritating. The closest thing is the Sonnet xMac contraption, but you still have to work with a Mac Mini, which is not powerful enough for large amounts of users and has no redundant power supplies or hot swappable storage.

    To be honest, i wonder if, had Tim Cook been CEO at the time, whether it would have been discontinued at all. It may have not have been a massive seller, but even business 101 students know that you sell one XServe, there's a chance you may sell 100 iMacs!
  8. mcnallym macrumors 6502a

    Oct 28, 2008

    Can install an Areca 1882-24 card and a NIC card into the Chassis, which has redundant PSU.

    Disk I/O will be as good as anything fitted into an xserve or mac pro, and has 24 hot swappable bays.

    Boot off the Areca and install the mini inside, mini breaks is relatively easy to swap the mini over. Install new mini, install driver and set too boot off the Areca and should be good to go.

    All OSX Server is really good enough for now is OSX platform management at which it is probably good enough on a mini
    If part of a larger environment then there are tools for linking into Windows AD, Microsoft SCCM has the ability to do management of OSX clients as well.

    Apple don't really need a high performance server any more to succeed in selling into enterprise.

    They can sell the desktops/laptops in there and don't need a powerful server environment to do so
  9. cube macrumors G5

    May 10, 2004
    Maybe Apple could make some unique AMD ARM servers.

    A good way to start the switch to ARM.
  10. AmestrisXServe, Feb 8, 2014
    Last edited: Feb 8, 2014

    AmestrisXServe macrumors 6502

    Feb 6, 2014
    The problem Apple faces is enterprise support. It isn't the hardware, or OS software, but providing a support framework for enterprise users.

    Apple have no interest in the expense of running this kind of service. They barely care about their desktop platforms now, much less enterprise equipment.

    I remember a day, not too long ago, when they axed support fortheAppleIIand68K Macs. This ended an era, as before this,Apple provided support for anything they ever made. You also used to be able to call the Cupertino office and speak to a person instantly.

    Now,you get a virtual operator run around, even if you do have AppleCare, and if you do not,you are hosed. Even when you do,their phone techs rarely have answers to any complicated problem.

    If they can't support q desktop platform properly, enterprise support is out of the question, and is mandatory for the XServe platform. Beyond this, the Apple Enterprise equipment has never been cutting edge. Look at XRAID: It was half a generation behind all the competition, and support for it was terrible.

    I think that the only way you will see new Apple OSX Server stuff in the future is if Apple parter with SUN or someone else to both sell and support Apple server HW, whereas Apple only provides the OS.

    This sort of proposal hasn't existed since the UMAX era, and I think Apple should consider third-party Mac HW companies again,given their unenthusiastic approach to a desktop platform. Let Apple focus on the iPod and iPad,whic I see as a garbage platform: Where are tablet and netbook Macs? Hackintosh, that's where.

    If I need to make a Hackintosh netbook because Apple do not offer one, even when there is market demand, then Apple have declared they don't even care. Why not let another HW company sell the stuff?

    If you follow that avenue, then the logical approach to Apple server HW is to let a manufacturer of cutting-edge servers handle the XServe instead of Apple doing it themselves.This would make them money, keep the platform alive, and negate support problems that have plagued the XServe stuff for years.

    They could even fork OSX Server to that third-party company, and focus on iOS. Migrating OSX to iOS is (IMHO) idiotic, and would never work for servers. The real question is: How long will Apple continue to support OSX Server?
  11. Gav2k macrumors G3


    Jul 24, 2009
    The whole apple range can be used as a server and tbh there is nothing wrong with external raid arrays.
  12. theluggage macrumors 68040

    Jul 29, 2011
    Well, that's part of the problem.

    Then there's the problem that Apple's Unique Selling Points - the OS X user interface and their sexy hardware design - aren't really selling points for server hardware beyond the small/home office market, for which the Mac Mini is adequate.

    The modern Mac, by necessity, can quite happily talk to Microsoft and Linux based servers - heck, Apple have even depreciated AFP in favour of SMB.

    Also, you have the growth of cloud services, and the plethora of plug-in-and-go NAS devices: none of which are complete replacements, but both of which eat away at the potential market.

    When the XServe was released it was unique: it had a PPC processor that offered advantages over Intel and was a popular choice for building computing clusters, and (unlike Windows) you didn't need per-seat licenses. Plus, connecting Macs to PC-centric networks, Exchange, Knobbled Knitware etc. could be a pain back then. Now, xserve would be just another Intel-based rackmount server, and if you don't want to pay Windows Server licensing, Linux is now a highly respectable alternative (much more viable in the server market than it is on the desktop) and connecting Macs to Exchange, SMB etc. is far smoother than it used to be.

    That, and most corporates wouldn't shift from Microsoft if Steve Ballmer personally came round and killed the CEO's puppy.

    Yeah - and that went well. Not.

    This has been gone over many times. There is precious little money to be made on desktop PCs and entry-level Laptops! That has been true in the past (if BoxShiftCo don't sell you the extended warranty, thet overpriced RAM upgrade and the gold-plated USB cable, of if they don't stuff the hard drive with enough adware, they don't make a profit) and if you follow the news you'll know that whatever market there was is now rapidly going down the pan.

    Apple's business model is to recoup the huge expense of developing their own operating system and application suite by selling only high-end laptops, all-in-ones, small-form-factor and workstation-class systems that still command a healthy profit margin (the Apple Tax soon diminishes if you compare Macs with similar 'boutique' systems rather than just finding the cheapest Dell with the same CPU and RAM). Cloners wouldn't make low-profit entry level OS X systems, they'd make systems that slightly undercut Apple's successful products.

    I'm sure BoxShiftCo would be delighted to offer OS X as an option to existing Apple customers who were already sold on OS X but they would have no particular incentive to promote it or expand the market - moreover, with most of their sales force being Windows people who saw OS X as Not Invented Here, and MS's aggressive incentive programs, OS X might be little more than bait to get deep-pocketed punters through the door before converting them to Windows. At least in the UMax days, clone-makers had to invest in building PPC-based systems so they had some sort of stake in the success of MacOS.

    You know, I think that might have worked back in the days when OSX Server was a separate product that retailed at $500 and they could have restricted cloning to true 'server' systems and collected a decent license fee on each sale.

    I think that boat sailed when they reduced Server to a $30 App add-on for Lion (and the first version of that was a train wreck, too).
  13. AmestrisXServe macrumors 6502

    Feb 6, 2014
    Therein lies one of the problems:

    To do this properly, Apple would need to turn OSX Server over to the HW company who handle it, and stop undercutting the product. y original investment in Mac servers was in the old Mac X Server 68K and Performa stuff, and then in Mac OSX Server (Rhapsody), moving onto OSX Server 10.1, and 10.2. They all cost a bundle, but in contrast to WinDoze server OS products, were bloody cheap.

    You are correct about Linux though: Why run costly HW and costly SW when you can run a Linux server, with GUI and shell tools similar to OSX Server, at no SW cost, paying only for extended enterprise support, whilst having open-source code that you can self-modify and expand?

    OSX Server should have bundled something like MacPorts or other POSIX interfaces within itself to allow use of open-source tools and repositories. Access to almost all Linux software would have increased its selling points greatly. Sadly, if you want this, you have to add it, and it's hard to market a feature that isn't locked into the OS.

    For example, X11, while bundled into the OS, is not integrated into Aqua. With a little work, Apple could have integrated X11 API stuff into Aqua, to allow Linux GUI software to interface seamlessly. Bloody hell, if we had sources for Aqua, we could have done that as a community, and Apple could have made money off of our ideas,while still keeping a great deal closed.

    Another big hurdle is LTO support: I can't imagine a server grid without LTO drives (and maybe autoloaders). With Linux, you can do this easily, but with OSX, you have to rely on very expensive software just to add the drivers into the OS, and those may not be R/W to other OSes that rely on TAR.

    In other words, even with the expensive software, cross-platform use is spotty. LTFS is not entirely reliable either, and is far less useful than proper TAR support, *and* requires LTO5. I don't feel like upgrading to LTO5 just for LTFS and better OSX support. :/

    I actually liked AFP: If you were running a hive of Mac systems, it was far more reliable than SMB, and supported more operations. Out of curiosity, is there a way to integrate the newer SMB protocols into older OSX Server releases?

    I'm still running 10.5 for compatibility reasons with some software, although that bits me in the bum for support with newer tools.

    In another light, I would never use Mac Minis as servers: They've no proper expansion, SAS capability, expanded Ethernet, etc.. They also aren't rack-friendly. They may make good office networks, but not good true servers.

    I run four SAS quad-channels, with SATA multiplexers into drive arrays in enclosures. I also have some XRAID stuff, that is so problematic that it's sick.

    The XRAID is a key showcase piece for how Apple lost their server market: They were still using FC when the world was going SAS,but beyond that,they went with UATA drives instead of SATA via their FC bridge, which killed the design. UATA was essentially good and dead by the time Apple released the XRAID, and Apple never make a SATA conversion, or updated the firmware to support >1TB drives.

    Had it used SATA initially, I think it would still be valuable today. Now you can get a 14x drive XRAID for under £200. The problem is that any long-term support on the user end is more expensive than buying an SAS adapter and a SAS/SATA enclosure. The first time you need one new 750GB UATA drive, you have paid for the SAS card or the SAS enclosure.

    It's almost impossible to find UATA drives of that size too, and in to years, you will be using refurb or used drives, with ever decreasing lifespans, unless you feel like rebuilding the mechanism in-house. I used to rebuild Apple HDDs, from the Profile and Widget, to the SC80. Those were hard-enough,much less the new drive mechs today,with tiny tolerances.

    To be in the enterprise market, you need to think five years ahead, not five years behind. I frankly wouldn't be shocked if Apple went with UATA because they had an overstock of UATA mechs and saw SATA on the rise,and wanted to dump them at a huge gain. That kind of business decision is idiotic, as it irritates enterprise clients, who aren't about to buy overpriced UATA mechs from Apple,when they can buy SATA mechs at a lower price with much larger capacities.

    With regard to cloud stuff, all I can say is 'Good Luck'. If you expect your datum to exist in ten years, you are playing a crap game by going with cloudware. You can only avoid a natural so many times before you seven-out.

    I relied on cloud backups for my old Palm devices, and then the services started to vanish overnight. Poof, gone, no way to recover; so I learnt my lesson.

    If you want real capacity, stability, reliability and backups, you want RAID 10 or RAID 51, with many drives, plus an LTO4, LTO5, or LTO6 system, storing archived tapes off-site. For smaller files, you may want M-Disc.

    If and when optical media catches up to 1TB capacity, it may become a viable solution as well. NAND will be replacing HDD units entirely in a few years, doubling incapacity every two years, whereas HDD platters are at their limit.

    Thus, with 256GB NAND at the £200 price point now, and 3TB enterprise drives about the same, the HDD media makes sense today. In 2016, you can expect 512GB NAND drives for £200,and SATA to be only slightly less, and in 2018, you can expect 1TB NAND to be about £200,and the costs of SATA to rise, due to lower production, like with PATA today.

    By 2020, 2TB and 3TB NAND drives will likely entirely replace platter-based drives, except in very-high RPM needs, although NAND speeds may increase in the same curve.

    NAND, by the way, is not as secure for longevity as I would like. It has an unproven long-term shelf life, whereas M-Disc is supposedly tested to a 1,000-year lifespan ad LTO is about 35-years, expected, possibly more.

    At present, in contrast, the longevity of a cloud service can't be anticipated beyond two to five years, mainly because it is a model that depends on other companies for its continuation, and any poor investment by those companies could cause them to collapse.
  14. greenmeanie macrumors 65816


    Jan 22, 2005
    And now everyone is converting to data centers so OSX server would need to run on that making it so we would not need a new server from Apple.
  15. SuperPolli macrumors regular

    Apr 20, 2013
    New Jersey
    Good Idea, But Nope.

    It's a good idea but it won't happen. Apple killed the Xserve in 2009 (I believe that's the correct year, if someone wants to check me, feel free!). To bring it back five years later would be a bad idea in terms of PR. That's like saying, "We thought this product was outdated and unnecessary but five years later it's suddenly relevant again oh isn't it just adorable, now please give us $2500 for a product we called outdated five years ago but now want to sell again!"

    Really it's not an exaggeration. The Xserve would do better today as it could take over the Server market held by previous Mac Pros and maybe even a few old Xserves that haven't been replaced yet. But it just won't happen.
  16. AmestrisXServe macrumors 6502

    Feb 6, 2014
    I agree that Apple has no further interest in enterprise stuff, and that the idea of licensing it to a third]party is a pipe dream. It's merely the only model that is like;ly to be wise and successful.

    That said, when Apple axed XServe, that doesn't mean they couldn't come back with a third-party 'Apple Server', or eServer, or whatever happy PR name they spin out for it.

    Apple have previously revived other lines, with name changes after a pause. Look at Newton: Jobs axed Newton when he returned, and a few years later released the iPad, which shared many of the Newton model ideas.

    The real trick on enterprise stuff is maintaining both support, and up-to-date market specs, and as Apple have almost lost interest in *desktop* systems, a new *enterprise* system model is unlikely, unless done by a third party with a long history of sustaining such a market.

    The next problem is demand: How many companies will invest in an OSX deployment with iffy support, when they can use a Linux deployment with LTS at a lower cost?

    Any next]gen Apple server stuff needs better Linux API integration, and proper support for Linux software (such as git, MacPorts, and brew) as a core service, along with drivers and support for standard enterprise equipment.

    That is why I believe that development of a new server OSX needs to be through a third-party that can commit to doing this, as Apple seems hard-nosed, and hell-bent about integrating iOS with OSX. Server OS stuff doesn't need, or want that.

    If Apple can't even put OSX on an iPad, they clearly can't work with OSX Server anymore.
  17. pondosinatra macrumors 6502

    Jun 9, 2009
    Calgary, Canada
    Why would they? The big players in the server space are getting hammered financially....

    Soon we'll have no choice but to use iPads for servers......there'll be nothing else to choose from.
  18. ratsg macrumors 6502

    Dec 6, 2010
    Not that this is necessary, but a very good point. Apple can always bring something back. Or back in another form factor. There are a lot of strong comments being made in this thread from people I strongly suspect do not work in Apple's R&D department.

    what? Underneath the GUI, the iPad has always ran OS X. I'm SSH'ed into my gen 2 iPad mini right now.

    iPad /var/root 208 # uname -a

    Darwin iPad 14.0.0 Darwin Kernel Version 14.0.0: Fri Sep 27 23:08:32 PDT 2013; root:xnu-2423.3.12~1/RELEASE_ARM64_S5L8960X iPad4,5 arm64 J86AP Darwin

    iPad /var/root 209 #
  19. AmestrisXServe macrumors 6502

    Feb 6, 2014

    I think you mean that your iPad runs an OS built on Darwin, and shares some, but not all OSX APIs: It is not OSX. You can't just dump an OSX installer.app package onto it, or any OSX.app or OSX.pkg onto it and expect them to work.

    I can put Darwin on anything, add a GUI and API layers, and call it an OS. That doesn't make it OSX--it doesn't even make it any more useful than a base TinyCore install--and without Aqua, no OSX programme will run. (I can run shell programmes on anything that I please, that has a gcc compiler.)

    What I want, personally, out of a tablet. Pure OSX, in tablet, or netbook/tablet form, is to run every OSX programme, and not be dependant on the iTunes and iOS stores for stuff. I want removable media for crying out loud.

    Seriously, how hard would it be to add an SDXC port onto the iTablet stuff?

    I'm not an Apple dev, and I would probably be fired in under a week for trying to force ideas such as expandability and open architecture onto the iPod/iPad models. I knew a couple guys who worked at Apple R&D Cupertino in the 80s/90s, but I don't know anyone there now. I'm not a consultant for Apple, or an employee, or even a reseller.

    I doubt anyone in this thread is at Cupertino either, and even if they were, they aren't walking clarevoyant, precognative, Mua'Dib clones. Apple has shifted gears more times than I can count.

    I'm just pretty damned well-versed in Apple stuff, from 1977, to about 2011, and I know a good deal about the tech industry from both marketing and HW design bases. I have problems with a lot of Apple's business models.

    I don't own an iPhone for three reasons: No removable media, no easy-swap battery, and no open-architecture software policy (e.g. everything must be approved by Apple, purchased or downloaded via the Apple Online stores).

    I don't run OSX 10.7 or higher because they stopped supporting some programmes that I rely upon, and I even have to run OS9 to use Adobe Framemaker, as Adobe has never released an OSX version of it. (Yes, I also run the later, WinDoze versions of FM.)

    The point is that just because something isn't viable, or happening now, doesn't mean it never shall be viable, or happen again. I do not however, see Apple entering the enterprise market again on their own. To be honest, many of their enterprise technologies (e.g. XGRID) never saw commercial application, as they didn't have the right partners involved to work on them. Even Adobe have jumped ship, mostly thanks to Apple competing directly with them.

    All of this, in a large lump, says to me that Apple aren't seriously interested in their DT platform anymore. They want to sell iPhones, as they make the largest marketshare doing that, and well, the enterprise market has always been their smallest slice of the pie, with the lowest margins, and needs the most 24/7 support.

    If I can't even call Apple and get to a human being without entering system serials and goodness knows what else, that tells me that Apple do not want to handle live support. The quality of production has steadily fallen since 2001/2, and the iron tank image of Apple HW has faded into oblivion, instead favouring tossable HW with a 3-year maximum turnaround, vs. their old ten-year+ model.

    I can still fire up a Lisa 2/10 today and be relatively sure that it will work, but an iBook G4 is a crap shoot: I have a three-foot-high stack of those with GPU problems, and I have a one-foot stack of TiBooks that run flawlessly!

    That sort of public image does not fly with enterprise equipment, as anything for the enterprise market has to run 24/7/365 and have LTS of six years, to be taken seriously by any company investing in it.

    Apple had some great ideas for OSX Server, but slowly they dropped them, until it was an empty shell of what it was meant to be. They made bad HW choices for servers and accessories, and eventually strangled themselves.

    I see no way for Apple to re-enter the market without a third-party, or several third-party partners, and at present, I see no possibility of interest in that. The best solution for a new OSX server, in a rack, may be to hack one, but with all the easy to use Linux stuff out there now, there is too much competition, and unless Apple wants to rework OSX Server to include Linux API support, they are staring at an even smaller market than ever.

    The flip side is this: Because everyone in big businesses knows that Apple XServe and OSX Server stuff is a dead market, they are dumping it, and as a consequence, the equipment has become dirt cheap, and we can now afford to run it out of small businesses, and for home networks, etc., where a £50,000 server isn't even financially plausible.

    The second-hand market for XServe stuff is at an all-time-high, for buyers, and you can find XServe G5 systems these days, for under £50.=
  20. unplugme71 macrumors 68030

    May 20, 2011
    All our Mac's run off of Windows AD.

    The few Mac Pro's we have are just for our software updates.
  21. jkoerber macrumors newbie


    Apr 2, 2008
    I completely concur with Alrescha. Our company depended (and still depends) on the Xserve for our online application we sell around the world.

    When the Xserve was canceled, we bought up all the Xeon Xserve's we could get our hands on. The Xserve was the best server hardware our company ever owned. Period.

    We still have G5 Xserves running after 6 years with almost zero downtime.

    OSX Server 10.6.8 was the finest server OS Apple ever produced. It was easy to manage for less techie types, but had the power to be extended with so much else.

    OSX Server 10.7 and forward basically ripped out everything that was useful in the 10.6.8 version. Good enough for a small office running on a Mac Mini but not up to snuff for massive online applications and databases.

    While I lament this drastic change by Apple from several years ago, I understand that they decided to be what they are best, a consumer focused company.

    This focus is what has grown them so quickly over the past 10 years and why companies like Microsoft, cannot seem to find their groove anymore as they continue to put out product people don't like or find useful on both the consumer and business side.

    We will continue to use our Xserve's and their backups until they all die, then we will make the move to some sort of Unix based hosting.
  22. gavinstubbs09 thread starter macrumors 65816


    Feb 17, 2013
    NorCal boonies ~~~by Reno sorta
    I haven't had any experience with using Old Servers/New Clients, is the G5 able to make accounts and keep data for profiles if people are signing in with lets say a Mavericks computer? Just curious :)
  23. guzhogi macrumors 68030


    Aug 31, 2003
    Wherever my feet take me…
    While I'd like Apple to ale the Xserve again, I don't see it happening. Like Steve Jobs supposedly said about TVs, there's not enough of a profit margin, and don't get replaced frequently enough. Plus, not very many servers are sold compared to consumer computers / phones. That's the problem: too interested in the profits and not concerned enough about the needs. Maybe an Xserve can be a loss leader. It might not make much sales, but can lead to increases of other products' sales.

    It would be interesting to see Apple license Mac OS X Server to 3rd party server hardware manufacturers. Put in stipulations where if it doesn't meet a certain quality requirement, Apple can pull the license. I am no business expert so I don't know how well that'll work, but would be interesting, nonetheless.
  24. phoenixsan macrumors 65816


    Oct 19, 2012
    I hope.....

    that too. Maybe if somebody higher in the Apple ladder realizes that some money can be made from this market, they can make something....

    I had observed that Apple, in some of past iterations of their hardware, had offered "Server" versions. So that can signal they dont want to make a foray in a market too serious.

    Another discussion will be, if the Xserve returns, if that will come in the same or different form factor.....;)

    Personally, I had worked in my wokplace with a donated Xserve and still like it....:D


Share This Page