Mac Home Server

Posted:
in Future Apple Hardware edited January 2014
I think we definitely need an Apple Home Server for all the Time Machine Backup. As well as personal storage and itunes streaming. It properly wont be a money making product but more like a Hobby Project like AppleTV.



I just hope Apple comes out with one of these to complete against Microsoft Home Server.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 21
    What about a NAS system?
  • Reply 2 of 21
    I thought the official Apple Home Server/NAS was the AppleTV. Saroukha
  • Reply 3 of 21
    Mac Mini with an external drive?



    Airport Extreme with USB disk once they fix the Time Machine incompatibility?



    Perhaps Apple should just buy Drobo, add a gigabit port and some new firmware. ;-)
  • Reply 4 of 21
    ksecksec Posts: 1,567member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by aegisdesign View Post


    Mac Mini with an external drive?



    Airport Extreme with USB disk once they fix the Time Machine incompatibility?



    Perhaps Apple should just buy Drobo, add a gigabit port and some new firmware. ;-)



    The problem with Drobo is that most of that feature are already covered by ZFS.
  • Reply 5 of 21
    hmurchisonhmurchison Posts: 12,341member
    Eventually Apple will have to make a Home Server because Microsoft is seeing some enthusiasm surrounding their Windows Home Server product.



    We're moving into an era where homes now have a computer per person in many cases. Just as businesses found the benefits of moving from peer to peer networking to centralized server based access homes now are entering that realm.



    Now when I purchase software I'm looking for multiple licenses (Family Packs) because it's going to be important for me to duplicate my computing environment across multiple computers and devices. Centralized management is going to be a must.



    It'll likely take Apple a couple of years but they'll hit with something workable. They are evolving the parental controls with each new OS and improving the sharing functionality. The next logical step is a stripped but functional server for the home.
  • Reply 6 of 21
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by ksec View Post


    The problem with Drobo is that most of that feature are already covered by ZFS.



    I was thinking more on the hardware front than the software and ZFS only really solves the file system issues not the user management.
  • Reply 7 of 21
    On the hardware side the question is what is needed.



    For the most part it is file storage. This can be handled with USB hard drives. What is missing though is redundancy and backup storage, which is becoming more important as we have more "stuff" stored in a digital form that requires requires backup that is not easily handled by even the newest DVD solutions. A solution such as Drobo would be good for most people, its flexible and easily "grows" with the users needs. The logical course for Apple would be to grow the the AirPort base station into this with the addition of removable drives and software. I think that it would also be great if there was a tape backup solution added in that was affordable to the home user, because I'm not a fan of online data storage and yet another subscription fee in my life.



    Now what I would personally like to see would be something closer to a blade server which could have as many as 4 dual or quad processor cards, 4 hard drives in a RAID. Sell a base configuration with one blade and let the user grow the system as needed. This would allow Apple to come out with inexpensive thin clients to replace the iMac for home use and be a central storage and media manager for computers and consumer electronic devices such as AppleTV.



    The problem that I see with a product like this would be cost and future proofing the product. The benefits for Apple if done right would be the potential for selling more "computers" each year as consumers needs grow and they buy or replace the blades to accommodate the growing need. Here the server would need to have a backplane that would be fast enough to see at least 10 years worth of use and be no more expensive than an iMac (with one blade included). Couple that with blades and thin clients that cost about the same or less than as a Mac Mini and hard drive sleds that use standard internal HD's.
  • Reply 8 of 21
    One problem with the suggested solutions is that they lack Apple elegance. Because of the form factors of the Mini, AppleTV and the Airport Extreme Base Station, attaching a hard-drive is easy but looks awkward. Stacking is a better use of space and looks good too.



    What I'd like to see is a change in the Mini's form factor so that it you can stack it on top of 3.5 inch drives. For example, instead of 2 x 6.5 x 6.5 inches, change it to 1.25 x 6.5 x 9.5. Apple could justify the larger rectangular shape by playing off the thinness of the computer.



    My server would then be any number of 3.5 inch 750Gb drives, daisy chained with firewire 800 and connected to a mac-mini running a "home" version of 10.5 server.
  • Reply 9 of 21
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Bacon View Post


    One problem with the suggested solutions is that they lack Apple elegance. Because of the form factors of the Mini, AppleTV and the Airport Extreme Base Station, attaching a hard-drive is easy but looks awkward. Stacking is a better use of space and looks good too.



    There are plenty of stackable Mac Mini sized drives already. eg. Lacie and Iomega



    http://www.lacie.com/products/product.htm?pid=10813



    http://www.iomega-europe.com/item?SI...&sku=131433910
  • Reply 10 of 21
    aegisdesign:



    Those are decent sized drives at decent prices. Last time I looked for a drive for a mini the values were terrible. I forget how fast technology moves. (You know what they say about assumptions.)



    I'd still like FW 800 or even eSATA.
  • Reply 11 of 21
    macroninmacronin Posts: 1,174member
    Think about XSAN, Apples answer to network storage…



    Think about XGrid, Apples answer to distributed computing…



    Now think about an Apple-branded home server which brings the above pro-level solutions down to the consumer/pro-sumer level; but instead of XGrid grabbing CPU cycles on client machines, the Home Server variant takes in jobs from the (thin) clients and crunches them through it's CPU array. Same machine holds and serves up the majority of data for the thin clients, with Back To Your Mac & .Mac action keeping clients connected while out and about.



    And the thin clients? My preferred line-up of Mac slate tablets…



    Three models; 8", 13" & 17"; all +/- of course…



  • Reply 12 of 21
    vineavinea Posts: 5,585member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by aegisdesign View Post


    I was thinking more on the hardware front than the software and ZFS only really solves the file system issues not the user management.



    Heh...on the hardware front its just a 4 bay NAS...



    For me an Mac Home Server is a very quiet 4 bay 3.5" NAS based on the aTV CPU/GPU with 802.11N, running a cut down Leopard with ZFS enabled that can serve as a iTunes media server for aTV and other Macs. 4GB-8GB or so of flash for the OS and a very low power mode and quick activation for Wake On LAN. Something along the costs of the low end Mini....say $599 with only one bay filled with a 250GB drive.



    I guess an optical drive too.



    Alternatively, it could have Mini-like specs and possibly include a 802.11n access point for near iMac pricing....say $999.



    The blade idea is IMHO meh. A lot of complexity for very little gain and given the trend toward mobile computing going the wrong direction. There are likely more laptops at home than iMacs and a thin client laptop is pretty useless mobile when there's no network.



    If you're going to have thin clients anyway you might as well just connect directly to Amazon EC2 + Amazon S3 and skip any hardware at home beyond thin clients.



    $0.10/hour for a virtual machine with 1.7 GB of memory, 1 EC2 Compute Unit (1 virtual core with 1 EC2 Compute Unit), 160 GB of instance storage, 32-bit platform.



    Yes, remote desktop to an Amazon instance is not going to be very fast but at least you have a compute cloud with vast capability accessible from anywhere you have a network connection.
  • Reply 13 of 21
    frank777frank777 Posts: 5,830member
    As I've said before, I'll never understand the idea of pegging the Home Server idea entirely into the entertainment side of things.



    This is where Apple has a real opportunity to present a different product to the market.



    An Apple Home Server should not just serve up music and video, but also monitor homes for electricity usage, run phone, fax and email services, heating and cooling equipment along with video surveillance and alarms.



    The home equivalent to the Enterprise's main computer.
  • Reply 14 of 21
    sequitursequitur Posts: 1,910member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by aegisdesign View Post


    There are plenty of stackable Mac Mini sized drives already. eg. Lacie and Iomega



    http://www.lacie.com/products/product.htm?pid=10813



    http://www.iomega-europe.com/item?SI...&sku=131433910



    Add NewerTechnology to that list:



    http://www.newertech.com/products/ministackv3.php
  • Reply 15 of 21
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by sequitur View Post


    Add NewerTechnology to that list:



    http://www.newertech.com/products/ministackv3.php



    I'm sure there are many more, I just gave a few examples. Just a quick scan of eBay would show up a gazillion Chinese MacMini knockoff enclosures for USB/Firewire/NAS drives, most of which I wouldn't trust my data to though.
  • Reply 16 of 21
    aegisdesign:



    The ministack highlights two downsides to using the MacMini as a server. First, the MacMini lacks FW 800 and second it lacks eSATA. (Both of which the Ministack supports.) I wouldn't expect the addition of eSATA, though I love using it on my XP Machine. Lacking eSata, I think FW 800 would be essential if you wanted to pull a 60 minute home movie off the server for editing.



    With that said, what is your opinion of the MacMini, running Leopard Server and sitting on top of four 500 GB drives, as a home / small office server. What alternative might you suggest?
  • Reply 17 of 21
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Bacon View Post


    aegisdesign:



    The ministack highlights two downsides to using the MacMini as a server. First, the MacMini lacks FW 800 and second it lacks eSATA. (Both of which the Ministack supports.) I wouldn't expect the addition of eSATA, though I love using it on my XP Machine. Lacking eSata, I think FW 800 would be essential if you wanted to pull a 60 minute home movie off the server for editing.



    With that said, what is your opinion of the MacMini, running Leopard Server and sitting on top of four 500 GB drives, as a home / small office server. What alternative might you suggest?



    I've a couple of clients using Mac Minis as office workgroup servers with non-Server 10.4 already and they've been doing fine. One is on 24/7 doing e-commerce. I'm not sure what the point of FW800 or eSata is for a small network server - you're limited to the network speed anyway which though it's theoretically capable of 1000Mbps, you'll likely not see anything near that. They're using it for office data, so it's not really important anyway. Even a 10Mbps ethernet network would be fast enough other than for backup purposes.



    For a movie server, I don't see why Firewire 400 is so badly considered. DVD quality is around 6Mbps. HDDVD/Blueray is around 50Mbps and HD TV is specced up around 20Mbps. Surely that's enough bandwidth?
  • Reply 18 of 21
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Bacon View Post


    aegisdesign:



    With that said, what is your opinion of the MacMini, running Leopard Server and sitting on top of four 500 GB drives, as a home / small office server. What alternative might you suggest?



    I've been toying with this idea for a while for my home/office. I think I'd just run regular Leopard with a whole lot of sharing on the mini.



    I'm also looking for it to serve as reliable data storage/backup as well, so the thing that's bugging me is how to run a reliable RAID with a bunch of external drives attached to the mini and whether that is as safe and cost-effective as picking up a used G4 tower somewhere and filling it up with disks.
  • Reply 19 of 21
    ksecksec Posts: 1,567member
    My only concern is that Apple Home Server wont make much money for Apple. But if AppleTV is consider a Hobby then why not Apple Home Server?
  • Reply 20 of 21
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Bacon View Post


    aegisdesign:



    ... what is your opinion of the MacMini, running Leopard Server and sitting on top of four 500 GB drives, as a home / small office server. What alternative might you suggest?



    I'm doing a media server for my HDTV with a core2duo mini and a LaCie 500GB (Seagate Barracuda). I've replaced the mini's stock 80GB with a Hitachi 7200 rpm 200GB.



    Stacking the mini on top of the LaCie is like putting it on a hot plate. The heat from the LaCie seems to move right up into the mini. Putting a stack of four of these drives under a mini would seem to be asking for trouble down the road.



    As it is, I am adding some 6"x6" copper plates to the LaCie hard drive enclosure to absorb some of the heat the Seagate throws off. If anyone is interested I'll post some photos of my attempts to modify the LaCie for cooler running.
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