Exactly. It's kind of funny to see so many (although it's actually a tiny number in the big scheme of things) in denial about the fact that Apple has no interest whatsoever in the backend of enterprise computing, i.e. servers. Hardware on the backend has very thin to virtually no margins anymore. Money in the enterprise computing market (what I'd define for companies doing at least $100 million in annual revenues) is in software and services, not the hardware. Why are some people so stubbornly in denial about this?
Even Apple doesn't use the OS X Server for the great majority of their own internal data center needs. Why would Oracle use it and sell it when Apple is actually using Oracle's Solaris and Enterprise Linux along with IBM/AIX, Red Hat Linux and even Windows server software? Companies competing in the real large-enterprise computing market make their money with software and services like consulting and systems integration. Hardware is now a small part of IBM's revenues and even less of their profits. HP acquired EDS specifically to compete with IBM in services. Dell is moving in the same direction because they just can't make enough money selling servers.
Also, large-scale storage and networking equipment have much better margins than servers. It's why HP and Dell recently went into a bidding war for little-known storage technology company. It's why HP acquired 3Com as well. Servers don't make money because most IT departments can cobble together their own server farms with cheap generic blade servers running the free open-source Linux server software from various companies. And then there are also a horde of Wintel servers that a lot of IT geeks can put together themselves.
Why would Apple want to compete in this kind of cutthroat space where no one cares about UI, ease-of-use, the ecosystem or industrial design? CIOs and IT directors care about computing power for each buck spent. Specs and how cheap the hardware is does matter an awful lot here. Consumers are willing to pay more to be shielded from the complexities of using technology and that's where Apple's expertise is and where Apple adds value and have the ability to charge a premium. That won't go over with the IT departments and Apple knows it, so Apple is getting out.
Consider it Apple throwing up their hands, if you must. Apple can't win here. Sun lost big-time in this market because their servers were way too overpriced during the dot com era but when the bubble burst, no one wanted to pay the premium for Sun servers when there were much cheaper servers based on Linux and Wintel. Sun ended up losing billions and billions of dollars over the past decade and ultimately got snatched up by Oracle at a bargain basement price of $7 billion. Please remember that Sun's market cap was once well over $100 billion during its heydays. There's no guarantee that Oracle will do well with Sun's hardware business. Oracle was primarily interested in Sun's software IP's.
So, what exactly does Apple bring to the server market? I can understand the frustrations of those who has a vested interest in the Xserve feeling abandoned by Apple on this, but why should Apple continue to use their resources on something that makes up well below 1% of their revenues and earnings and which will continue to become even more insignificant as iPhone and iPad sales grow at an exponential rate in the years ahead? It's just business reality. Apple won't be getting into the backend enterprise computing business. Apple has absolutely no interest in it because they'd get slaughtered trying to compete in it. They have their hands full enough dealing with Google/Android, Samsung, Microsoft/WP7, Sony, Nokia, RIM, Amazon and other companies in the CE client side of the tech industry.
Then tell me wise knowledgable almighty how to:
* Support Macs in MB with MCX easily
* Support Macs in MB with SU, Netboot easily
* Support Macs in MB with fast deployed single sign on with Active Directory for AFP, SMB and NFS
* Support Macs in MB with minimum cost as the Mac workstation already there most often is allowed because we can support them in a fairly low cost and fast manner with Mac OS X Server with MCX, SU and Netboot / DeployStudio.
* Not having 2 MDC´s in a Xsan take up 12U in a rack
I´m mostly work with companies of 20-200 people. Many of these have dedicated server rooms. We are not talking server farms or DC. They do not have own employed staff to do the IT but instead hire Windows and Mac consultants to do the job. It is these kind of companies that the Mac as a platform will get kicked out because of this. It´s not just a Apple branded 1U server that is at stake here. It is the Mac in medium business / enterprise. I could not care less about a server with an Apple logo on but I DO CARE about being able to run Mac OS X Server on server grade hardware. Let it be HP, Sun, Acer or even Dell.
This is just a few things that come to my mind. I could use a Mac Pro in some companies but most of the 100 or so companies I support would not allow a MP in the server room. And our own hosting service will have to be redone from now on.
You could of course do most things with Linux but it would take quite a bit more time (money) and you would not have a Apple supported solution.