Apple Abandons the Datacenter

Apple Abandons the Datacenter

Summary: Apple quietly drops their datacenter server hardware.

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With its introduction in 2002, the Apple Xserve was, according to Steve Jobs, the result of listening to their customer needs. This rack-mountable sever running OS X was going to lead Apple into server rooms and datacenters around the business world, and signaled Apple taking the enterprise computing customer seriously.

How much the world has changed in 8 years. With their subtle announcement that the Xserve was no more as of 1/31/11 (an availability statement on the website and a transition guide to move users to the mac Pro or Mac Mini), Apple removes any doubt that their focus, first and foremost, is on being a consumer products company.  Not that there is anything wrong with that; they make wildly successful consumer products and playing to your strengths is always a good idea.

And before Apple loyalist start yelling about how good a server a Mac Pro or Mac Mini makes, they aren't enterprise server equipment. Period.  They don't rack mount, use multiple power supplies, offer a lights-out management scheme, offer low-power consumption video and are not purpose designed servers. This stuff all matters in the enterprise computing world. No matter how much the pimp out a Mac Pro, it's still not  a purpose built server.

I'm sure there are people who will use the Pro and Mini as departmental or special purpose servers. But the ability to work in the server role does not alone make for enterprise server equipment.

Of course, if the future of the corporate datacenter really is cloud computing, the backend hardware will rapidly become little more than a collection of commodity components, and it while it would appear that Apple was banking on that when they made the choice to end their Xserve product line the truth is that it was never a winner for Apple anyway. Apple presence in the datacenter is so minimal it doesn't even blip the radar, and this action by Apple is more significant in showing that Apple recognizes where their future lies rather than any real comment on Apple's vision of the datacenter future.

Topics: Servers, Apple, Data Centers, Hardware, Storage

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25 comments
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  • Wait a tic here.....

    If what you say is correct then Apple is once again doing the smart thing. If as you said the "datacenter" is going to the "Cloud" making any attempt by Apple to increase it's presence in an area that has in fact no future then well how is this a statement on Apple's failure to gain a foot hold in said area? This is much like Apple dropping the 3.5" floppy drive. Once at that time could have argued that because Apple sells so few actual computers compared to the over all volume of PC sales that Apple's dropping of the 3.5" floppy was simply Apple admitting it could not sell enough 3.5" floppies to justify continued attempts. Ignoring or side stepping the issue of weather the 3.5" was dying as a needed or wanted technology. If the datacenter if going the way of the horse and buggy then why fight for a space there? Move on right?

    Pagan jim
    James Quinn
    • RE: Apple Abandons the Datacenter

      @James Quinn

      Apple may well believe that and let it drive their decisions on datacenter hardware. But there will still be a huge market for datacenter servers; just not Xserve or with OS X.

      I didn't say this was a bad decision. Why focus resources on an arena that they can't compete in?
      David Chernicoff
    • The enterprise datacenter IS the cloud ...

      @James Quinn ... and if Apple wants to provide cloud-based services, they need a presence in the enterprise datacenter. Part of the reason why Apple's consumer products are more expensive than their non-Apple counterparts is that Apple has little or no presence in the lucrative enterprise machine room.
      M Wagner
    • RE: Apple Abandons the Datacenter

      @James Quinn

      The answer is clear.

      Apple makes toys and entertaining diversions. Nothing wrong with that and there's always one more sucker to be had. Apple doesn't make enterprise or business products as no amount of design and packaging can achieve actual functionality.
      tonymcs@...
  • Apple suggests replacing a rack mount server with a Mini?

    Are you [b]kidding[/b] me? That is [b]the[/b] most idiotic statement to ever come out of Apple and they've made a lot of idiotic statements.

    [i]They don?t rack mount, use multiple power supplies, offer a lights-out management scheme, offer low-power consumption video and are not purpose designed servers. This stuff all matters in the enterprise computing world.[/i]

    [b]Exactly[/b] right. Anyone who buys a rack mount server had the option, when they bought that server, to buy a desktop computer and use it as a server. You pointed out the reasons why companies buy enterprise grade hardware when they have always had a chance to spend a fraction of the amount on desktop grade hardware. What Apple has said is the equivalent of Volvo telling their trucker customers to buy a Volvo sedan and use that instead.

    I don't blame Apple for trying to get out of the enterprise hardware business. They were never competitive in that market so good on them for realizing that they just couldn't compete with Dell, HP, etc. However, their suggestion to the handful of customers who bought xserves that they should replace them with minis? HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!!
    NonZealot
    • RE: Apple Abandons the Datacenter

      @NonZealot

      That is exactly what they suggect in their Transition guide (http://images.apple.com/xserve/pdf/L422277A_Xserve_Guide.pdf)

      To wit...

      ? Transition options to deploy Mac OS X Server
      include Mac Pro with Snow Leopard Server
      and Mac mini with Snow Leopard Server
      David Chernicoff
    • RE: Apple Abandons the Datacenter

      This guy just trolls on any blog that speaks about Apple. Hey moron..... no one is buying your 1 sided story. Better yet, why are you not trolling around about how Apple is kicking Microsofts ass in revenue, phones and tablets. Which by the way typical Microsoft to let Apple come out with it first and then they follow.
      beau27
      • If you are going to troll, at least do it properly

        @beau27
        [i]Apple is kicking Microsofts ass in revenue, phones and tablets.[/i]

        Yeah, but not in profits. :) I'd rather make $10 revenue with $5 costs than $100 revenue with $99 costs. :)

        [i]Which by the way typical Microsoft to let Apple come out with it first and then they follow.[/i]

        That one is laughable because it is always the reverse. What [b]actually[/b] happens is that MS comes out with it first and then 5 years later, Apple analyzes all the things that customers couldn't understand about MS's products, removes those features, and then releases their crippled clones... which then go on to kick MS's @ss. :)
        NonZealot
    • Geez, go have a heart attack and get it over with will you

      @NonZealot
      GoPower
    • Because they don't compete in the datacenter ...

      @NonZealot ... Apple cannot compete long-term on the consumer market place either. As more and more applications move out to the cloud, Apple will initially lead in the appliance market but cannot stay alive indefinitely on premium-priced products only.
      M Wagner
      • premium

        @mwagner@... <br>you mean as they could "stay alive on premium-priced products" since they were founded 42 years ago? and increasingly well over the last decade? you mean that can't go on forever? you're probably right. but i wouldn't bet on that happening within the next 20 years or so.
        banned from zdnet
  • One does wonder about bloggers ever think...

    Note that Apple has built some fairly large data centers of late. What'd they build them with? Windows boxes?
    zkiwi
    • RE: Apple Abandons the Datacenter

      @zkiwi

      Well, if they followed their own advice to customers, they must have stocked it with Mac Pro and Mac Mini servers.

      Though that seems really unlikely now, doesn't it?
      David Chernicoff
    • Nothing prevents Apple from installing OS X on HP racks

      @zkiwi
      [i]What'd they build them with? Windows boxes?[/i]

      Apple prevents [b]you[/b] from doing that by making you agree to a license. Apple doesn't have to abide by the same licensing conditions because they actually [b]own[/b] the OS (you only license it).

      So while I know you are trying to make a joke, don't laugh too hard. It is [b]very[/b] possible that Apple built their data center with OS X Server on non Apple hardware.
      NonZealot
      • RE: Apple Abandons the Datacenter

        @NonZealot or just stole another open source platform, ala BSD. These days, a great generic server box with Linux works just fine.
        myles@...
      • RE: Apple Abandons the Datacenter

        @NonZealot

        I didn't take that as a joke, it's a very valid question. I would be genuinely interested in what Apple use sin their datacenters.
        aep528
      • @NonZealot...

        Get a job, get a life.
        zkiwi
      • data center

        @aep528
        i could imagine apple is using hardware from other vendors running linux or mac os x as their own hardware solution isn't the best for the server room or big enterprises. their server niches are clearly education and small and midsize business, not data centers.

        actually they don't have a solution for that space anymore now that the xserve is gone and it wasn't the best hardware solution either as long as it was available. for edu and small/midsize biz with a lot of macs, mac osx server is a hight value though.
        banned from zdnet
  • Didn't they just annouce a deal with Unisys

    to sell/push their products in the enterprise?
    GoPower
  • Apple's never wanted to do 'corporate computing'

    I've spent the last 25 yrs or so of my life trying to working with corporations, govt departments and defence contractors who had some 'smart cookie' who decided to buck tradition and put Apple hardware in their enterprise. Every single one of them failed... eventually.

    Why? Because of lame moves like this one from Apple. If you want to ensure that corporate IT hates you big time, sell them a story that you are serious about supporting the data center. Then pull the rug out from under the feet of those that took a risk and tried to back you. Yes Apple... you've done it again.

    Its fine if they want to sell phones, music, music players, etc. But please don't treat us like a bunch of idiots and try and tell us you are serious about the enterprise market. By now, we should know a lie when we see one.

    The 'cloud'? Well I'll believe that when I see it. If you think that a major corp will accept that moving their entire application & database infrastructure to a 3rd party cloud storage facility is acceptible, then I have some swamp land in Miami I'd like to sell you.

    V
    myles@...