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You are here: MacNN Forums > Community > MacNN Lounge > Why OS X Server will never be adopted by large business (re: XServe)

Why OS X Server will never be adopted by large business (re: XServe)
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besson3c
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Nov 6, 2010, 04:21 AM
 
We've sort of had these conversations before, but I'm coming at this from a different angle now - more of a fundamental businessy sort of angle...

Apple is in the business in creating software abstractions - in making things easy so that end users don't have to worry about the gory details. This is really the essence of Apple. In doing so, their products are closed because there is little point in making these abstractions transparent to end users who won't care anyway.

Large business IT dudes don't want closed and opaque, they want open and transparent. Take, for instance, an option on Solaris server to enable the write cache setting of SATA drives. This is the kind of setting that tinkering that to a large business can literally save them thousands upon thousands of dollars and/or make or break the operation of a particular server. Another example might be kernel optimization. Apple has sort of done a few things to provide these geeky sorts of settings and configuration possibilities, but only up to a point. To cater to this need would be difficult for them based on what they are setup to do.

As far as small business needs go, how much money is possible there shared between Apple and Microsoft, and what sort of efforts does Apple have to go to to cater to this market, and at what expense?

There has always been a big gap between consumer technology and large business. It is hard to find great software and hardware for small business. I could be *completely* wrong here, but I would imagine that Apple recognizes this, and recognizes how things are changing with virtualization, outsourcing, and the emergence of web-based apps and services. Maybe there isn't much of a future for turnkey sort of software and hardware for small business?

Killing the XServe might be prophetic, and OS X Server is probably next. These moves make sense to me from a business perspective.

Am I on to something in thinking that the future of small business software and hardware in general is somewhat bleak due to virtualization, outsourcing, and web-based apps/services?
     
Spheric Harlot
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Nov 6, 2010, 05:12 AM
 
Apple makes haphazard and halfhearted attempts at enterprise support every ten years or so, but never make any real inroads because of weird implementation and because everybody remembers what happened last time.

     
lpkmckenna
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Nov 6, 2010, 07:58 AM
 
Originally Posted by besson3c View Post
Killing the XServe might be prophetic, and OS X Server is probably next. These moves make sense to me from a business perspective.
Apple is marketing Mac mini Server to small business now. I don't think OS X Server is going anywhere.
     
Maflynn
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Nov 6, 2010, 08:35 AM
 
To some degree companies got discounts for buying servers and desktops. That is an incentive to use HP for both desktops and servers. So buying an Xserver but still running PCs with windows was an economic disadvantage.

Additionally issue with OSX server is software. Take some of the major enterprise applications like PeopleSoft, SAP, Hyperion. None install/run on OSX. Why buy a server that will serve as an application server and not run the application. Additionally, why buy an OSX server for a file server but an HP/Dell/IBM/Sun for your application server.

Another obstacle was the mindset of IT executives who have a long history with a given platform, be it Microsoft server, or Solaris, or AIX. They're less likely to take a chance on anything different and unproven.

Finally you need to place some blame on apple's foray into the enterprise with apple themselves. They seem to take it a little half hearted and iT folks wondered if they'd be there for them in the long run. Low and behold they weren't. The hardware and software wasn't exactly updated on a regular basis
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Laminar
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Nov 6, 2010, 11:08 AM
 
Originally Posted by besson3c View Post
Apple is in the business in creating software abstractions
This is the kind of setting that tinkering that to a large business can literally save them thousands upon thousands of dollars
based on what they are setup to do.
how much money is possible there shared between Apple and Microsoft

Originally Posted by Maflynn View Post
buying an Xserver
Additionally issue with OSX server is software
Low and behold they weren't.
The hardware and software wasn't
Was there some sort of plan to drunk post that I missed?
     
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Nov 6, 2010, 11:44 AM
 
The server market demands máximum configurability. No room for proprietary solutions, in the long run.
     
besson3c  (op)
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Nov 6, 2010, 01:11 PM
 
Originally Posted by lpkmckenna View Post
Apple is marketing Mac mini Server to small business now. I don't think OS X Server is going anywhere.
Maybe, but this could be just a little experiment more so than a representation of Apple's new strategy. There are so many more problems with thinking of a Mac Mini as a server, I doubt this will be pushed all that hard. In fact, I don't really know what Apple has in mind here, it's a little bizarre. The new Mac Pro servers make a little more sense.
     
bstone
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Nov 6, 2010, 08:11 PM
 
I brought up an OS X Server while working an edu job a few years ago. They still use it. It's a back up controller for the AD and it does the desktop management for the OS X boxes, of which there are many.
     
mattyb
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Nov 7, 2010, 09:34 AM
 
In the environments that I've worked in, choice of hardware and software is usually down to how well buyers are treated by the Oracles/IBMs and Microsofts of the world. Except for startups the usual reason for having X or Y is the in-house skill-set. Once you start setting up your IT systems, you like to use the same sorts of systems. When companies buy other companies, the buyer usually forces the bought to change their IT systems (e.g. use Exchange and Outlook instead of Notes).

I don't get the impression that EMC or IBM or Oracle are any more transparent than Apple. They don't seem to be from where I sit in the organisation.
     
Wiskedjak
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Nov 7, 2010, 10:24 AM
 
Originally Posted by besson3c View Post
Maybe, but this could be just a little experiment more so than a representation of Apple's new strategy. There are so many more problems with thinking of a Mac Mini as a server, I doubt this will be pushed all that hard. In fact, I don't really know what Apple has in mind here, it's a little bizarre. The new Mac Pro servers make a little more sense.
I'd always thought the Mac Mini Server was ultimately intended as a server for the home.
     
Doc HM
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Nov 7, 2010, 10:49 AM
 
The X serve is dead as of Jan 31st anyway, which means it's effectively dead now since no ones going to buy one now they know it's for the chop.
Apple Officially Confirms Plans to Drop Xserve Development - Softpedia

Replaced by the MacPro Server at $3999.00
This space for Hire! Reasonable rates. Reach an audience of literally dozens!
     
besson3c  (op)
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Nov 7, 2010, 12:29 PM
 
Originally Posted by mattyb View Post
In the environments that I've worked in, choice of hardware and software is usually down to how well buyers are treated by the Oracles/IBMs and Microsofts of the world. Except for startups the usual reason for having X or Y is the in-house skill-set. Once you start setting up your IT systems, you like to use the same sorts of systems. When companies buy other companies, the buyer usually forces the bought to change their IT systems (e.g. use Exchange and Outlook instead of Notes).

I don't get the impression that EMC or IBM or Oracle are any more transparent than Apple. They don't seem to be from where I sit in the organisation.

No, but the OS which it runs on is.
     
Spheric Harlot
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Nov 7, 2010, 03:07 PM
 
Originally Posted by Doc HM View Post
The X serve is dead as of Jan 31st anyway, which means it's effectively dead now since no ones going to buy one now they know it's for the chop.
Apple Officially Confirms Plans to Drop Xserve Development - Softpedia

Replaced by the MacPro Server at $3999.00
Yes, that's why he posted this thread, which is about the fate of Mac OS X Server now that the Xserve has been killed.
     
besson3c  (op)
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Nov 7, 2010, 03:34 PM
 
Not only that, but if I may take this thread in a new direction, the fate of small business IT in general.

Like I said, with the cloud/outsourcing, virtualization, web based apps, and a new generation of mobile devices which will surely encourage even more cloud based services, I really can't think of any sort of need for a small business to have their own server rack. I can see the need for spare desktop PC or two or three, but nothing that requires the security, climate control, monitoring, staffing, and mission critical-ness that some of which goes along with having rackable hardware. The possible exception might be MS Exchange servers, I guess... I've also built Quickbooks servers for companies located in multiple locations, but I don't know how common this is or when this will be replaced by a web service.

Therefore, how is it smart from a business standpoint to develop products and services for small business? Of course, from Apple's perspective they also have competition from Microsoft, but I'm willing to bet that even Microsoft's interest in small business will wane if it hasn't already.
     
Paco500
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Nov 8, 2010, 05:31 AM
 
Originally Posted by besson3c View Post
There are so many more problems with thinking of a Mac Mini as a server, I doubt this will be pushed all that hard.
For a lot of tasks, it's a great server. Not every server needs N+1 redundancy. For loads of applications, a small form factor, low power server would be perfect.
     
OreoCookie
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Nov 8, 2010, 05:50 AM
 
Friends of mine use a Mac mini as a test server/file server for their start-up and they really like it. They also have two Opteron-based Sun servers as production server and backup.

For many things, they're plenty powerful and plenty fast.
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egadsby
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Nov 8, 2010, 12:19 PM
 
I work at a small liberal arts college and we have some Xserve's and they work beautifully. More important Work Group Manager running on an older Xserve provides services to about 200 Mac's, with new ones being deployed daily. From my point of view the Xserve going away is bad, the server OS going away would be worse. If you feel as I do please visit:

Apple Please Do Not Discontinue The Xserve Product Line

Let Apple know how your feel.
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besson3c  (op)
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Nov 8, 2010, 12:58 PM
 
Originally Posted by OreoCookie View Post
Friends of mine use a Mac mini as a test server/file server for their start-up and they really like it. They also have two Opteron-based Sun servers as production server and backup.

For many things, they're plenty powerful and plenty fast.

For non-mission critical stuff it is fine, I also forgot that it had dual HDs when I wrote this originally, that makes a big difference!
     
besson3c  (op)
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Nov 8, 2010, 01:15 PM
 
Originally Posted by egadsby View Post
I work at a small liberal arts college and we have some Xserve's and they work beautifully. More important Work Group Manager running on an older Xserve provides services to about 200 Mac's, with new ones being deployed daily. From my point of view the Xserve going away is bad, the server OS going away would be worse. If you feel as I do please visit:

Apple Please Do Not Discontinue The Xserve Product Line

Let Apple know how your feel.


No offense, but I don't think this will make a difference. It is not a surprise that a certain number of people feel as you do, but until an argument can be made about how sales will increase and how this market is not dwindling, I don't think Apple is going to care.
     
OreoCookie
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Nov 8, 2010, 01:40 PM
 
Originally Posted by besson3c View Post
No offense, but I don't think this will make a difference. It is not a surprise that a certain number of people feel as you do, but until an argument can be made about how sales will increase and how this market is not dwindling, I don't think Apple is going to care.
Sure. And when you don't need fast storage (e. g. if you need a central code repository, a place for your office documents and media files), you can add essentially unlimited space by adding external harddrives.
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olePigeon
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Nov 8, 2010, 01:57 PM
 
Originally Posted by Spheric Harlot View Post
Apple makes haphazard and halfhearted attempts at enterprise support every ten years or so, but never make any real inroads because of weird implementation and because everybody remembers what happened last time.

But man they look cool.
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besson3c  (op)
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Nov 8, 2010, 02:12 PM
 
Originally Posted by OreoCookie View Post
Sure. And when you don't need fast storage (e. g. if you need a central code repository, a place for your office documents and media files), you can add essentially unlimited space by adding external harddrives.

The storage situation is one area where local computers are not going to be replaced by the cloud anytime soon, I don't think. Aside from upload speeds, there are lots of interesting problems here...

For starters, some files that we all have are files that are archived and rarely, if ever touched once they have been written to a disk. It doesn't make sense that these files be stored on a SAN or some environment designed for rapid I/O because this is not cost effective when you run-of-the-mill SATA disks will work fine. On the other hand, building a massive shared disk that is hammered away at by many people obviously SATA is not going to cut it.

For now, companies like Dropbox, Linode, Amazon, etc. provide storage probably served by SANs or other high performance systems (ZFS pools, iSCSI, whatever), but in doing so it is still quite expensive for people to upload and/ore store, say, 500 gig worth of stuff. SATA makes the tradeoff of providing more storage in favor of performance, so not only are SAS, SCSI, etc. drives more expensive per gigabyte, but more of them are required to be able to provide 500 gig worth of storage capacity.

So, either some new drive technology is going to have to emerge and provide lots of cheap, high performance storage (maybe SSDs ?!), or some clever person is going to have to figure out how to offload files that aren't accessed frequently to cheaper storage, and perhaps scan your HD in advance to determine what those files might be based on their timestamps.

So, I foresee there continuing to be a need for file and backup servers for a while, but they don't have to be rackable for most people, they just have to exist. I don't really know what video production companies or the like do that need gobs of really fast storage though, it would be interesting to know though...
     
egadsby
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Nov 8, 2010, 04:24 PM
 
Originally Posted by besson3c View Post
No offense, but I don't think this will make a difference. It is not a surprise that a certain number of people feel as you do, but until an argument can be made about how sales will increase and how this market is not dwindling, I don't think Apple is going to care.
Regrettably you may be right, but look at how Apple responded to Antennagate. If the customers bring it to that level Apple will have to come back with something in the way of an explanation/resolution. If FaceBook users where was able to get Betty White on SNL then we can surly get Apple to respond with something more reasonable.
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besson3c  (op)
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Nov 8, 2010, 04:28 PM
 
Originally Posted by egadsby View Post
Regrettably you may be right, but look at how Apple responded to Antennagate. If the customers bring it to that level Apple will have to come back with something in the way of an explanation/resolution. If FaceBook users where was able to get Betty White on SNL then we can surly get Apple to respond with something more reasonable.
How is "they aren't selling" not reasonable?
     
egadsby
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Nov 8, 2010, 04:38 PM
 
Originally Posted by besson3c View Post
How is "they aren't selling" not reasonable?
While a reasonable response from Apple's financial perspective it leaves customers with unreasonable problems. My boss has already told me he doesn't want a 4 - 12 U Mac Pro in our data center YET there is no way we are going to dump Work Group Manager. We have 3 xserv's that support 200+ Mac's...we wouldn't have gotten as many Mac's if we couldn't manage them. While the server platform might in itself be a drain, it can bring other Apple products into an enterprise.

From a purely subjective point of view the Xserve and Mac OS X Server 10.4+ has always served me well. It's a good mix of strength and easy upkeep.
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hayesk
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Nov 8, 2010, 04:39 PM
 
Originally Posted by egadsby View Post
Regrettably you may be right, but look at how Apple responded to Antennagate. If the customers bring it to that level Apple will have to come back with something in the way of an explanation/resolution. If FaceBook users where was able to get Betty White on SNL then we can surly get Apple to respond with something more reasonable.
True, but 20 million people buy iPhones. How many people buy XServes? Also, it's just not going to get the media attention required.
     
besson3c  (op)
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Nov 8, 2010, 05:03 PM
 
Originally Posted by egadsby View Post
While a reasonable response from Apple's financial perspective it leaves customers with unreasonable problems. My boss has already told me he doesn't want a 4 - 12 U Mac Pro in our data center YET there is no way we are going to dump Work Group Manager. We have 3 xserv's that support 200+ Mac's...we wouldn't have gotten as many Mac's if we couldn't manage them. While the server platform might in itself be a drain, it can bring other Apple products into an enterprise.

From a purely subjective point of view the Xserve and Mac OS X Server 10.4+ has always served me well. It's a good mix of strength and easy upkeep.

Apple has nothing in place that is suitable for large enterprise on the Mac end of things, and as for small enterprise with the emergence of virtualization/VPS providers, cloud based services, and outsourcing of other services such as email, I can't think of any small business service that requires a Mac server.

The lone exception is your situation of running computer labs and perhaps Daylite/Marketcircle users, but a subset of the small business market is likely so tiny that Apple just doesn't care.
( Last edited by besson3c; Nov 8, 2010 at 05:09 PM. )
     
boy8cookie
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Nov 8, 2010, 05:12 PM
 
Originally Posted by besson3c View Post
...I can't think of any small business service that requires a Mac server...
A production house?
     
Spheric Harlot
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Nov 8, 2010, 05:17 PM
 
Originally Posted by hayesk View Post
True, but 20 million people buy iPhones. How many people buy XServes? Also, it's just not going to get the media attention required.
I read an estimate that they were selling 10,000 a quarter.

That's probably not nearly enough to warrant R&D into new models.
     
besson3c  (op)
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Nov 8, 2010, 05:29 PM
 
Originally Posted by boy8cookie View Post
A production house?

What software does a production house run?
     
olePigeon
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Nov 8, 2010, 05:38 PM
 
Originally Posted by besson3c View Post
What software does a production house run?
The hell that is Quark and Adobe licensing server software.
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besson3c  (op)
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Nov 8, 2010, 05:59 PM
 
Originally Posted by olePigeon View Post
The hell that is Quark and Adobe licensing server software.

Ahhh... didn't know that. Requires Windows or OS X, I take it? I suppose Apple would say that that could be run on non-racked hardware, but I guess this would be considered pretty vital to those businesses, so I will dial back what I said before.
     
boy8cookie
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Nov 8, 2010, 10:07 PM
 
Originally Posted by besson3c View Post
What software does a production house run?
Xsan, Open Directory (makes Xsan more manageable), Final Cut Server (OD also helps here), in additional to the previously mentioned. I realize there are alternatives, but this setup works really well with minimal effort.
     
besson3c  (op)
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Nov 8, 2010, 10:20 PM
 
Alternatives to disk storage, sure, but obviously not Final Cut Server
     
olePigeon
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Nov 8, 2010, 11:32 PM
 
Originally Posted by besson3c View Post
Ahhh... didn't know that. Requires Windows or OS X, I take it? I suppose Apple would say that that could be run on non-racked hardware, but I guess this would be considered pretty vital to those businesses, so I will dial back what I said before.
You don't need to take it back. They can catch on fire and burn. DIE.
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besson3c  (op)
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Nov 9, 2010, 12:24 AM
 
Well, for the sake of accuracy, I will paraphrase: there is very little SMB stuff that needs to be racked that can't be outsourced.
     
   
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