Apple has decided to discontinue the Xserve. They say because it was a money losing product. They are offering Mac Pros with OS X Server and Mac Minis with OS X Server as alternatives.
I'm not sure what to make of the decision to discontinue the Xserve. The Xserve was a real server product, with a 1U form factor and redundant components, built for the enterprise and datacentre. If you are looking for a Mac Server for uptime critical applications, there is no alternative. If you need 1U formfactor computers for collocation, then you can try the Mac Mini and hope they don't fail too often.
Certainly, for smaller workgroups (design departments within enterprises, or small to medium business), the Mac Mini or Mac Pro are real alternatives.
The Mac Pro is more expandable, and can be connected to a Promise RAID, SAN or other Fibre Channel or eSATA devices, but it is a whopping 7U of space. If you are paying by RU (as is usual in most collocations) then this will cost considerably more. If you are interested in HPC or clusters, then you might need a little more room (although the Mac Pro does have superior cooling, so you might save some space there).
The Mac Mini Server is good for smaller tasks, we have installed them in offices of 10 users, and as single service devices (mail services). However, with their lack of expansion and Core 2 Duo processors, they aren't much use where you need lots of storage or lots of power. They aren't too good for running virtual machines, for instance.
Neither the Mac Mini nor the Mac Pro offer redundant power supplies. You can use a UPS, but the power supply in the computer will still be a single point of failure. This means downtime.
Neither the Mac Mini nor the Mac Pro offer hot swappable storage. This means downtime.
Apart from the technical, the other thing dropping the Xserve does is send a message that Apple is no longer interested in the enterprise, indeed is not interested in the clusters used for video production and CGI. The question remains whether Apple will continue to ship its server software and XSAN. If Apple is moving away from the enterprise, should the enterprise be moving away from Apple?
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This is all about my on going fumblings with hardware. Regular entries should provide an indication of the depths of my obsession.
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