back to article Apple signs Xserve death warrant

Apple is canning its Xserve family of rack servers. In a terse note posted on the Mac maker's website, the company that the platform will no longer be available to buy after 31 January 2011. The move doesn't pave the way for a revamped product just after that date. "Apple will not be developing a future versions of Xserve," …


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  1. Anonymous Coward

    I for one...

    Always thought they were totally irrelevant in the server space. I think they're irrelevant in other spaces too (desktop), but let's not feed teh fanboi trollz.

    1. ThomH Silver badge

      On reflection

      Since relevance correlates with newsworthiness, I think there's good evidence to raise a presumption that Apple are relevant on the desktop.

      It'd be extraordinarily difficult to argue that they're relevant in the server space. Given the number of iPod socks they've sold, they're probably more relevant in clothing.

    2. Giles Jones Gold badge

      Visual voicemail

      Well given Apple doesn't really do business computers it does seem curious that they made servers.

      I do wonder though what they will do about their visual voicemail feature as I'm sure this feature required Apple servers to be provided to mobile operators.

      It really would be nice if they standardised the feature and let everyone use it. Existing menu driven voicemail is a really stupid thing, although it is needed as a fall back option for some dumb phones.

      I'm a bit confused about the Mac Mini as a server option. It will do for light duties, but it's essentially a laptop without a screen but with two hard disks, so you'll be burning the thing out if you give it any heavy work to do.

      Mac pro would be better, but it's a tower machine and companies like racks.

      1. E 2
        Jobs Horns

        What Apple was selling

        Apple was offering a somewhat turnkey software package for these servers, at least for people wanting to do multimedia/podcasting/videocasting. The package was explained to me by a guy who built a boutique web hosting company using Apple's stack: he or his people could click a button on a desktop Mac and magically and revolutionarily have their media published in various file formats on the Apple web server.

        *I know this is not really magical or revolutionary*. The guy, though, felt that Apple had sold him a system that did not require a tech to set up or maintain. I dunno about that. The guy is a died in the wool Mac fanatic, the veins on his forehead stand out a bit when you say "Windows" to him. And he happily paid Apple about $7000 per server to get hardware that Supermicro resellers sell for $2000.

  2. eMz
    Thumb Down

    bye enterprise

    I think the enterprise customers, that Apple wants as customer, are not going to like this. They want servers that fit in racks.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      bye enterprise ??

      Wait, what ? "Enterprise" customers are a huge market for Apple. Check how many CxO type people are running around with an iDevice in each hand. And maybe I'm ignorant, but I have never seen an enterprise-class company (say 500 clients or more) running xservers for critical stuff. I have no experience with media companies though.

      I think Apple dropped Xserve since they can't justify their standard margins on server iron "just for the os".

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    This would seem to be an admission that nobody runs OSX for serious server applications.

    1. Jason Hall


      No. It may or may not be an admission that nobody runs OS X for serious server apps.

      What it DOES mean, is that Apple aren't making enough profit on selling servers, as it would want.

  4. Matthew Malthouse

    Datacentre problem

    So from January datacentre managers will either have to permit "desktops" into their racks or find an alternative platform for their applications.

    For my part any new budget request for Mac hardware will be shunted to developers to write software that will work on something else.

  5. Anonymous Coward

    Perhaps because...

    ... nobody in their right mind would pay £2451 for a single CPU server with 3GB RAM and a single hard drive... I'd be laughed out of the office if I suggested that. It doesn't even come with redundant power or out-of-band management as standard if the website is correct!

    The "Apple-style" counts for jack when it's in a rack down the datacentre!

    And what apps only run on OS-X server? Is there anything you can't just run on Linux?

    1. graeme leggett

      Compare and contrast

      A quick look at the Dell site suggests similar hardware (less the Apple styling and graphic card differences but with an extra two years warranty) comes in at about £1,000.

      OS-X server is priced at £400.

      1. ElReg!comments!Pierre

        "OS-X server is priced at £400"

        That's the OS. Are you suggesting people should install OSX-server on non-Apple branded hardware? Baaaad Graeme! That's against the almighty EULA! (Cue Jobsian Lightnings and Thunder)

        (Also for £1000 the Dell box will have a few useful features that the base Xserv lacks, like redundancy etc)

        1. graeme leggett

          The unthinkable

          Install Apple software on non-apple hardware? I wouldn't know where to start.

          But that extra 1,000 obviously buys a lot of styling and some small guarantee of functionality

          Personally my solution to getting a Mac into a rack format would be to buy a ancient Dell server and gut it until the Mac fitted inside. A lot of cable ties and the "Jobs a good'un"* - I call it a rack drawer.

          *see what I did there?

    2. Matthew Malthouse

      Unfortunately there are

      apps that only run on OS-X. Final Cut Pro being one we're stuck with and will have to find an alternative to. Other stuff is comparatively small in house development but it will be expensive in resources to re-factor for other platforms.

      1. Goat Jam

        What? Final Cut Pro?

        You do realise were are discussing servers here right?

        1. Snapper


          Yes Numpty

          Final Cut Pro Server!

          Look it up.

    3. streaky


      "nobody in their right mind would pay £2451 for a single CPU server with 3GB RAM and a single hard drive... I'd be laughed out of the office if I suggested that"

      This never stopped anybody buying their desktop products, think you're over-estimating people's intelligence.

      You say 'apple' to a cto and they practically get wood, even though you're effectively buying broken BSD.

      Ironic that the xserve stuff was their most useful kit, ignoring pricing. Well, the only place they could technically outdo Microsoft anyways.

      I'm assuming this is a sign of Apple's impending bankruptcy 2.0. Well okay, wishing..

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Oh wonderful

    That is just brilliant. After years of effort at getting a sane OSX infrastructure in place in order to provide students with a reasonable architecture to use Final Cut Pro, Avid, Sibelius etc. I get a kick in the teeth from Apple rather than my own management. There is no way I am putting Mac Minis or Mac Pros in a data centre.

  7. nick turner

    Brings back my good old days

    For some reason this reminds me of a company i used to work for who decided that the Apple Pippin would make a great product to use for processing (don't ask I still don't get it) and had a couple of server cabs full of them on shelves. Clearly apple have memories of this and want this model for the mac mini too.

  8. Dan 55 Silver badge
    Jobs Horns

    Businesses don't fit in with the master plan

    Java, XServe... As education/business/enterprise leave Apple because they can't be guaranteed a stable platform it'll be Mac Pros and Mac OS X Server on the chopping block next. The Mac's going to turn into a highly polished platform for iLife and fart apps.

  9. The Fuzzy Wotnot
    Jobs Halo

    Face it...

    Even though I am bit of an Apple fanboi sometimes I never saw the point of rack mounted servers from Apple. They make overpriced ( yes even a fanboi I admit it, I am a mug! ) pretty desktop boxes. When it comes down to it there are only two serious players in the Intel rack market and two serious O/S's, I'll leave you to work out which ones!

  10. Dino
    Jobs Horns

    this just sucks

    well done u class clown steve jobs... All the money I spent on os x server certifications gone to waste... all my lifelong commitment to arguing for os x in the enterprise just flushed down the toilet...

    .... moments later I awaken...

    yawn... that was a weird dream... hmm yes I almost did think of going os x route a long time ago ... but didn't ... psych!!! - I kinda saw this coming so went to linux even though I do still use macs though the way things are going might be changing desktops as well..... and unity on ubuntu certainly is going in the right direction me thinks...

    na na na na - steve jobs sucks, nanananana told me so now I was right .. hahahaha...


  11. tardigrade

    Not too surprising.

    I've been in quite a few data centre's around the country and I've only ever seen a handful of Xserve's in all of them. I should imagine there are more in media company's offices than in DC's or Middling enterprises server rooms. A situation that is probably much the same outside the UK as well. It doesn't make a lot of sense to colo them in return for what you get when space and price are such a premium.

    Maybe Apple want all your data to be streamed from their new DC in Virginia thus making servers redundant the same way the MacBook Air made CD/DVD players redundant /s. Heh..

    More likely though, they just canned an unprofitable line. If you do need an Xserve colo'd it's a bit of a pain. You are not going to replace a mission critical app with a Mac mini that doesn't have hot swappable HDD's and power management / dual PSU's. Unless you colo a number of minis and Virtualise the OS, thus mitigating damage from any one hardware failure. That's a big leap to make though if you are used to physically counting your servers.

    Does Eucalyptus run on OSX?

  12. Anonymous Coward

    It would make more sense...

    ...if they partnered with a third party to provide a rackmountable Xserve class hardware option in the future, much as they ditched their own Xserve RAID back in Feb 2008 and replaced it with the Promise VTrak kit.

  13. TuckerJJ

    Big deal

    It's only the hardware they're EOLing, not OS X server. If your business is big enough to need data centre space, you're probably going virtual anyway, which the license for OS X server now allows. Even smaller businesses with just 1 rack, in-house server rooms seem to be going this route these days. And if you're smaller than that then a mac mini or pro should suffice.

  14. Frank Bitterlich

    I wonder...

    ... how I will get redundant, hot-swappable PSUs into a Mac Mini. Or hot-swappable disks. Sigh... I just wish they'd stop suggesting completely insane "alternatives" when they're killing a product line. It's not nice to add insult to injury.

  15. EddieD


    It took me about an hour of web searches, an hour of preparation, and then an hour of tentative tweaking to turn my old Shuttle into a Hackintosh - full blown OS-X on my (almost) generic hardware - and it ran more than adequately. I shortly after nuked the partition, I just did it as an experiment.

    It strikes me that if I, as a wannabe IT bloke can do that, if you want an X-Serve-a-like, it shouldn't take a smart real IT bloke/Server Admin too long to figure out how to load the X-serve binaries onto a generic rack mount server box.

  16. Matthew 17

    Although OSX Server is kinda pointless..

    Their XServe boxes are very nice for audio rigs. Having a rack-mounted Mac is much more luggable than trying to safely mount a Mac Pro into a flight case.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Not a surprise

    With Apple announcing Java will be unsupported, a big chunk of Java apps -not just enterprise app servers, but things like Hadoop- will go away, so they could see demand getting even worse.

    Alternatively: sales of Xserve were so low they couldn't justify the java spend. And why was it so low? price. Apple have to compete not just with SMB workhorse of Windows server on x86 boxes from HP, Dell and others, but with Linux on x86, where OS costs are either low (RHEL, ubuntu with support) or zero (CentOS).

    To stay in the server game apple would have needed R&D investment in new server-side motherboards, enough x86 sales to get volume discount, enough HDD sales to get volume discount, and enough profit to justify both the hardware and software spend.

    What apple do sell in volume is SSD storage and laptop designs -even imac is really a laptop mainboard- displays, the iPhone/iPod CPUs. Not the parts to get them in the server business.

    Now, if Apple had bought sun, things would have been very different, but instead we get oracle and a return to the IBM "we own the stack" story in the server, along with apples "We own the handheld stack" in the client.

  18. HD Boy
    Jobs Halo

    The demise of Xserve doesn't affect Apple's small business customers

    Like the consumer market, small business is Apple's bread and butter. I operate a one-person, home-based photography shop with a Mac Pro, MacBook Pro, Mac mini 2010 connected to an HDTV, an older PowerMac running an old, $10,000+(US) scanner, an eSATA RAID and a Time machine for backup and various Apple routers and access points for 802.11n and Ethernet networking. Of course, I have the requisite iPhone and iPad too. My little Mac ecosystem is a lot to maintain while trying to concentrate on my art, but it works perfectly for my small business — and is extremely reliable.

    While I need a server, I do not need (or really have the physical space) for a rack mount server set up in a separately cooled room.

    Being the CEO, lone employee and janitor, I also don't have the desire or the time to learn and maintain another operating system like Windows or Linux. Besides, I despise the confusing and garish Windows interface, and after XP/Vista, I would never, ever trust Windows security. When the groundbreaking iPhone arrived on the scene, Microsoft missed the boat with small businesses. Back in 2007 (and to this day), Redmond has not delivered reliable contacts or mail sync support (outside of Exchange, which small businesses don't use). Three years after the arrival of the iPhone, even the newest (2011) version of Microsoft Office for the Mac (with Outlook) still doesn't reliably support direct syncing to the iPhone/iPod Touch/iPad, though the company has "promised" an update for this after Office 2011 ships.

    These days, Microsoft just moves too slowly.

    So, since Apple now sells a server version of the Mac Pro, I'll gladly utilize this option without a second thought. In my environment, simplicity — and my time — are far more valuable than saving a few dollars by purchasing cheap hardware. OS X server software is relatively easy to configure and maintain, is affordably-priced, and worry-free — I know everything will work, including backups, the network and file sharing, AppleSync and MobileMe.

    In effect, Apple has put together all the components so that a small business can put together a turnkey office and production system. To Apple's core, small business customers, the elimination of Xserve is a non-issue. I do lament the apparent reality that Apple has not been able to successfully break into the insular world of IT offices, but this doesn't affect how small businesses can benefit from Macs.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      .....doesn't affect Apple's small business customers

      >Like the consumer market, small business is Apple's bread and butter.

      Hardly, the only market that matters to Apple is consumer - they really don't give a FF about you.

      Nothing you describe can't be done far cheaper and better with a Windows or Windows/Linux solution - and Apple know that all too well even if you don't. You're confusing your own comfort zone with efficiency and FfP.

  19. Jess

    An incredibly bad move, unless

    they remove the restriction on OS X server only running on Mac Hardware.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Begs the question

    This begs the question: What do Apple use in their datacentres? I can hardly see them not using racked servers, it's a complete nightmare to cool a rack full, let alone a datacentre full, of workstations. They're hard to manage, they don't have lights out functionallity, you can't find individual machines easily, they don't have redundant components etc. etc.

    It was suggested further up the thread that OS X server allows virtualistation - are Apple actually using proper server hardware, such as Proliant and putting their OS in VMs, or are they not using Mac OS? (I can hardly believe that would be the case.)

    If they are using VMs, which hypervisors are they using/supporting?

    1. TuckerJJ

      Re Begs the question

      Actually, I'm retracting that statement. As Jess correctly points out, although virtualisation is allowed, the current EULA insists that OS X Server is installed only on an "Apple-labeled computer". Of course, maybe this is where those Apple logo stickers they supply with all their kit come in handy!

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward


        @TuckerJJ... I really wonder what they're playing at then? It's just going to annoy their larger server customers and the telcos (who I believe have to run Mac OS X server for some of the iPhone software.) Unless they're going to release a frame to retro-fit round a pro workstation? Even then there is no redundancy, but you could at least install an HBA and have consolidated disk.

        I wonder what apple are doing for their own serving then? I really can't see them having large datacentres full of workstations, it's nuts.

        An odd decision all in all.

    2. Adam T

      Apple's Datacenter

      I scrolled down to ask the same question, but suddenly I remembered they still sell Mac Minis in server config.

      I'm pretty sure MobileMe runs off them, so they probably think that's all you need.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Begs the question......

      >What do Apple use in their datacentres?

      Didn't they just announce a massive deal with Unisys?

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Jobs Halo

      Apple and Oracle...

      Larry and Steve are best buds. Clearly they'll be using Oracle servers just as they already run Sun servers.

      Once upon a time they even flogged a workgroup server based on IBM's rs6000 range.

    5. Flaco Dude

      an assemblage -- remember they borged other companies

      apparently Brocade switches, IBM Data Domain, IBM HACMP, IBM HAGEO, IBM NetApp, IBM/AIX, Linux, MacOS X, Oracle DataGuard, Oracle RealApplication Clusters, Qlogic switches, SUN/Solaris, Teradata kit, Veritas Cluster Server, et cetera.

    6. JonHendry

      Different rules for Apple

      I wouldn't be surprised if they were running OS X Server for some things on hardware from other companies. It's not like they need to follow the license restrictions placed on everyone outside Apple.

      Or, I suppose they could even go the Google route, and have custom-made servers built in quantity, that have technical advantages but hideous aesthetics. I kinda doubt Jobs would want Apple to make ugly servers, even for purely internal use.

      For things like database servers and whatnot, they probably use other operating systems.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        @John Hendrey

        I'd imagine that's entirely possible, but imagine the fuss kicked up if it ever got out that Apple don't run their own hardware?

  21. rsm1979

    So glad they did this now

    It was getting to the point where we have a lot of people running Apple products where I work that a manager was pushing for an XServe for them.

    I've had a meeting with Apple in the past about using Mac Pros as servers and XServe, and sure it makes sense if your environment is 100% Mac, but you'd be insane to use one if you are 95% Windows Vista/7 on the desktop like we are.

    There is just no viable replacement for Active Directory with Exchange. Microsoft have the best product for the job and they are looking like angels when you put them next to the practices of Apple these days.

    On the server-side I only use Ubuntu 10.04 with a few Windows 2008R2 VMs for AD and other stuff and it all works like a legend.

    Will I be putting 2 Mac Pros into a rack in the DC and wasting 12U of space? Hell no.

    They don't even have dual PSUs.

    And let's not forget what happens if your shiny Apple server breaks - you actually have to take it yourself to an Apple shop and they take 2 weeks to fix the bloody thing.

    Now it becomes obvious why they made the Mac Mini thinner - they fit into a 1U.

    But these will break if you do anything serious on them - crappy cooling.

    I have taken a Ubuntu server up to a load of 90 before when stress testing - a Mac Mini will die a horrible death with something like this, and possibly cause a fire.

    Just put your Macs onto the domain and use Exchange for all their calendar/email stuff - it's so much better that way.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      A former job...

      At a former employer we had a design department about twenty strong out of a workforce of about seven or eight thousand. They insisted on using Macs and a Mac file server, everyone else used Windows desktops, with Mainframe, UNIX and Windows back end. There were no other Macs in the company. IT Security insisted on all file backups being centralised and within a computer suite/datacentre. The design guys had the ear of very senior management. To cut a long story short, we weren't allowed to get any of our Windows or Unix guys to support Mac OS for one server, they weren't going to give it up their Mac server and management were making rumblings. We ended up with a Windows server in a datacentre which batch copied the files on the Mac server each night and was backed up after the copy. It was an irritation...

  22. Anonymous Coward

    Just Wait...

    Guarenteed OSX Server will be updated to run on any server platform including VMware. Apple has data centers and they need rackspace too... Im also betting on a Apple/Cisco UCS lovefest.

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Mac servers do make sense

    We are a mostly mac environment and OSX server serves us well, all our services run from it. Unlimited license no CALS to worry about or spend money on. It plays nice with the few windows users as well. I would recommend OSX server to small businesses anyday. TCO and services that come as standard with unlimited license is way better than MS offerings and easier to use than Linux ones.

    XServes - loads of redundancy, hot swappable repairs, 1U, robust - never had the hardware fail on me and some of our machines are pretty old.

    I hope that there is something to replace it and/or they lift the restrictions on virtualisation.

    Mac Pro's are good but they are not servers, not enough redundancy and take to much space.

  24. Paul

    replaced with a load balanced cluster of ipads?

    the ipad is so magical, it reinvents the computing paradigm leveraging the synergies of mobile technologies, that a cluster of ipads would easily replace a rack of xervs.

  25. Paul

    apple don't like corporates?

    given that

    * their laptops don't have docking bays

    * you can't get on-site engineers to fix laptops and workstations

    * they've dropped xserv

    do apple even understand corporate computing demands?

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