Apple Xserve users look to Windows and Linux

Apple Xserve users look to Windows and Linux

Summary: Xserve administrators are now looking to Apple for systems management and services for their Mac clients, but Windows and Linux to handle file and web services.

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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.

Topics: Windows, Apple, Browser, Hardware, Linux, Open Source, Operating Systems, Servers, Software

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19 comments
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  • RE: Apple Xserve users look to Windows and Linux

    I call BS right from the start.

    No way are there 1200 IT Admins who administer xServes. If that many admins were using xServes (keeping in mind that most people with that title are buying servers by the dozens), then Apple would have sold enough to keep the product line alive.
    jragosta
    • RE: Apple Xserve users look to Windows and Linux

      @jragosta

      I think if you look at the EDA data you will find that they filtered out 1200 admins who had Xserves as part of their environment, rather than running dedicated OS X server shops.

      One of the comments the report makes is that the average Mac client penetration in the respondents networks was about 3X higher than the corporate average. So it makes sense that they were using Xserves to support a limited number of Macs in a much larger corporate entrprise.
      David Chernicoff
      • RE: Apple Xserve users look to Windows and Linux

        @David Chernicoff

        That may be what they're claiming, but if there were 1200 IT admins who were heavy xServe users, the product line would have sold FAR better than it did.

        I can't find any recent numbers, but the highest sales volume I could find was 8,700 units in one quarter. At 35,000 units per year, they're not selling anywhere near enough to justify the product line.

        If these 1200 'IT Admins' were heavy xserve customers, they'd be selling a lot more than 35,000 units per year. That's why I suspect that the survey is bogus.
        jragosta
    • RE: Apple Xserve users look to Windows and Linux

      @jragosta You think that the average person managing servers buys far more than 30 servers a year? You don't understand the market that XServes have been used in.
      dbabbage
  • RE: Apple Xserve users look to Windows and Linux

    I was one of the people that filled out the survey and it looked legit. I have about 250 clients and use two Xserves. Our first batch I had 3 Xserves and I think I kept them around about 4 to 5 years and just replaced those three with two last summer of 2009. So we don't buy alot of server hardware on the Mac side, but I sure do hate to see a rack mount solution disappear from Apple's product line. I am in no way or won't be allowed to install a Mac Pro and Mac Mini into our server room. So Apple better have a solution in place to announce or I am going to push to get rid of the Macs.
    cashxx
    • Out of interest...

      Why would 3 or 4 Mini's or Pro's be forbidden? Especially in the case of Mini's.
      zkiwi
      • RE: Apple Xserve users look to Windows and Linux

        @zkiwi,<br>It's clear that a Mini is not even near compared with a XServer, the server he will replace. There is no dual socket or redundant power supply capability, plus no support for hot swap hard drives. The Mini is to weak to be a business/enterprise server.
        dvm
  • RE: Apple Xserve users look to Windows and Linux

    Speaking for the EDA: our analysis comes from 1,200 of 2,000 respondents who self identified their organizations as Xserve owners and met other criteria such as minimum size. The median number of Xserves reported was 6. Furthermore: 356 respondents reported that their organization owned >10 Xserves; 163 reported >20; 57 reported >50. If you have other questions about the survey and our analysis, please send them to info@enterprisedesktopalliance.com We?re still collecting responses at http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/V8P68F8?c=zdnet
    Cromelin
    • RE: Apple Xserve users look to Windows and Linux

      @Cromelin
      "our analysis comes from 1,200 of 2,000 respondents who self identified their organizations as Xserve owners"

      Well, that explains the problem- and is quite different from what the article claims.

      One organization with 6 xServes (the average you cited) could have dozens of IT employees surveyed. The individuals only stated that they worked for an organization that used xServes, not that they themselves used xServes.

      As I suspected, the article (which stated "1200 current IT administrators who manage Xserve hardware ") was inaccurately representing the group surveyed.

      Bottom line is that Apple didn't sell enough of them to make a profitable business. If there were enough customers, the product would still be in use.
      jragosta
  • RE: Apple Xserve users look to Windows and Linux

    I unfortunately fall under the category of those who will be pushing their Xserves until they explode or pass away silently. We used our Xserves to create a suitable compatibility environment with our Macs, but without any more Xserves it will be hard for us to justify the added cost of running expensive Macs with little productivity gains now that the environment can no longer be feasibly maintained. And when the Xserves do finally draw their last breath, the Macs will go out the window and the entire company moves to a different platform. Right now we're looking at Linux and preparing for the inevitable Great Escape. Pity, Apple. Pity.
    Tble
    • RE: Apple Xserve users look to Windows and Linux

      @Tble

      Just use Mac Pro servers. For the small number of xServes used by most of the people cited, the rack mounting capability isn't that big a deal (and you can rack mount a Pro, anyway).
      jragosta
      • RE: Apple Xserve users look to Windows and Linux

        @jragosta

        We did consider the Mac Pro (and even the Mac Mini), but it simply doesn't have the scalability we needed just as we are about to undergo our next level of business expansion. The Xserve was just right for that purpose. Our business started with an office full of Macs, you see, essentially the personal computers of our founders with a few assets thrown in by the previous tenant, and over time we merely continued that paradigm and replaced them more recent models. It was in this context that we eventually brought in the Xserve, just so to facilitate continuity of our IT environment and keep our IT costs down the way Macs were supposed to.

        Eventually Linux matured into a competitive operating system, but by then our office already had a few Xserves and lacked the momentum to make any feasible shift away from the Mac environment. Were our operations still limited to that single office, we would be quite content to switch to a Mac Pro server today, but no longer. Scalability is a key priority moving ahead, and we've been meaning to switch to a more scale-friendly and less restrictive environment like Linux for some time, and this is our opportunity to do just that. We've had plenty of troubles with our Xserves in the past of course, but they have undeniably served us well. Unfortunately, times have changed and all companies have to move ahead.

        Their good performance notwithstanding, they have also been increasingly difficult to justify in terms of their total cost of ownership. We have not had any comparative IT savings from continuing our IT model, and at times the restrictive software environment has forced us to purchase suboptimal software for our work, to the effect of lowered productivity and increased purchasing costs. Coupled with the premium initial capital outlay, such a model will be increasingly costly for us to maintain.

        I thank you for your advice nonetheless. With extensive input from our IT consultants, we have already laid down our IT masterplan, and we will be trialling Ubuntu servers with the Macs in the next quarter. If all goes well, we will proceed to gradually replace the workstations and personal computers with similar systems.
        Tble
  • Show what apple thinks of their customers

    just dump them and leave them hanging.
    if they were really smart they'd go Linux and not even entertain the idea of M$ because they'll leave them hanging too like they did to the millions of people using windblows home server!!!
    Ron Bergundy
    • RE: Apple Xserve users look to Windows and Linux

      @cyberspammer2

      Millions? I'd like to see that hat you keep getting your figures from - is it shaped like your posterior? Glsd to see you still have your Linux hobby, but the rest of us actually need to do work.
      tonymcs@...
      • Linux isn't a hobby...

        But then, you probably wouldn't be convinced even by the scale of its use in Enterprise. I guess in your little garden of unreality that IBM, Google, Oracle and whole swathes of the Fortune 500 companies and even (I think, from recall) that even BHP Billington use Linux quite a bit.
        zkiwi
  • RE: Apple Xserve users look to Windows and Linux

    comment removed
    I12BPhil
  • RE: Apple Xserve users look to Windows and Linux

    Send it to the cloud, virtualize everything. Then all we have to worry about is when the service provider goes bankrupt and takes our data with them. Seriously though, technologies come and go and the world progresses with out them. I spent 7 years becoming a Wang VS specialist, then OS/2 Warp, then Digital Tru-64. In the end it doesn't really matter - file formats and database platforms are a greater priority.
    winterspj
    • RE: Apple Xserve users look to Windows and Linux

      @winterspj
      -
      Don't mistake cloud providers for the Swiss;
      they aren't neutral !!!
      -
      http://www.computerworld.com/s/article/9199258/With_WikiLeaks_Amazon_shows_its_power_over_customers
      -
      Don't mistake cloud providers for the Swiss;
      they aren't neutral !!!
      -
      We, non-yanks, in general,
      don't trust USA based cloud-providers.
      -
      TheObserverFromDownUnder
  • RE: Apple Xserve users look to Windows and Linux

    Here is a real solution
    -
    ZTSystems-R1801e
    -
    1u Rack-mounted
    Shipped with UBUNTU SERVER OS.
    -
    Mac users will find the UBUNTU OS
    remarkably similar & Intuative.
    -
    If you prefer to have a GUI,
    you may have to add GNOME,
    as I don't think Server
    ships with a GUI as std.
    -
    The Gnome GUI
    feels very Mac-like.
    -
    The ZT Systems R1801e
    is an ARM Cortex-A9 (multiples) architecture,
    uses 8 ?System on Modules? (SOMs).
    -
    Really viable alternative.
    And it keeps you away from
    Bill's buggy bloat-ware !
    -
    TheObserverFromDownUnder