In a survey conducted by the Enterprise Desktop Alliance, a group focused on integrating Mac clients into the Windows dominated business desktop world, 1200 current IT administrators who manage Xserve hardware responded to a series of question as to what they would do now that Apple has left them in the wind.
Unsurprisingly, the survey found that the primary usage for Xservers was as file servers and management and support platforms for Mac clients in the enterprise, with the use of the Xserve as a web server platform being the next most common activity. With 65% of the users planning on staying with their Xservers for the next two years (and more than half of them planning on running the boxes until they dropped dead) there doesn't seem to be a real sense of urgency among current Xserve users to search out a replacement.
A third of the users stated that they would follow Apple's recommendations for replacing their Xservers when the time came, while the choice of "Unsure" was an extremely popular answer regarding future plans. But a very common thread was that Xserve users would stay with the Mac OS X Server software, on whatever platform was supported by Apple, for the provision of management and administrative services to their Mac clients, while moving to other platforms for file and web services.
Of those that expressed a preference, the choice for file services was Windows server, with these IT administrators expressing their opinion that doing so would be a successful and less expensive alternative than moving to another Apple platform. For Web services, the leading choice was to move to a Linux platform.
As many users realize, there's no rush to make the change from Xserve, but it is time to start planning for it, as the equipment you may be running critical services on has been end-of-life'd by the manufacturer. Many readers have told me that they expect something new from Apple, but that hope is of little value to those responsible for making operational choices today.