Apple, put the Xserve out of its misery

Posted:
in macOS edited January 2014
It's time for Apple to exist the Server market and virtualize OS X Server



Quote:

I wrote the article "Apple in the enterprise" partially based on the rather off the cuff idea of OS X Server being sold for virtual only sales. I've been mulling that thought over for last little while and the more I think about it, the more interesting it becomes.



First off, you have to remember that I'm coming from a high end virtualisation perspective where I work with medium and large businesses that are in the process of moving to virtualisation solution in order to take advantage of the ability to consolidate many servers onto fewer physical machines, abstract each machine into a few files in order to simplify backups, disaster recovery and business continuity. There are a few of very mature products on the market, most notably VMware ESX and Xen.



I've had the opportunity to work with a number of clients that also use Macs and OS X Server in their environments and for the IT administrators, these machines are starting to pose some issues since they are now different from all of the rest. Currently, you can safely (read supported) virtualise Windows Server in all flavours from NT up to 2008, various Linux Server distributions, and even Solaris x86.



xServes were different from the others in the near past since they were more of a UNIX machine with it's own chipset and you could categorize them with the Solaris SPARC and AIX PPC based machines. But now that xServes are Intel boxes like all of the rest of the Apple line-up, they start looking more and more like a generic 1U Intel server to the average IT administrator.



If that administrator is in the process of consolidating all of his existing x86 workloads into a virtual environment, they start asking why are these machines special? Fundamentally, they aren't.



Much more to the article. Basically he's right. OS X server will never be more than a niche product. Apple should save the engineering resources. Create an acceptal EULA and support strategy and pricing and license OS X Server for use in heavily virtualized environments. They're likely not selling enough hardware to really make the justification for their continued efforts. IMO of course.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 6
    Wouldn't this require OS X to run on generic hardware? As far as I know, neither VMWare or Parallels will allow OS X to run in a virtual machine.
  • Reply 2 of 6
    hmurchisonhmurchison Posts: 12,131member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by ThinkingDifferent View Post


    Wouldn't this require OS X to run on generic hardware? As far as I know, neither VMWare or Parallels will allow OS X to run in a virtual machine.



    Yes but in this case it would be Apple working to certify certain platforms. Let's say Apple decided that they want to deliver more product and functionality to the Enterprise while mitigating the risk. This scenaro could play out like this.



    Apple delivers OS X 10.6.5 with Hypervisor support.



    The first partners are



    VMware for Hypervisor

    HP servers



    Apple creates a licensing program followed by revamped support options.



    The benefits are that OS X suddently becomes a peer NOS sitting right along other flavors of Unix, Windows, Linux etc. Suddenly they move from a rather niche application for 1U servers to being able to fun on many more servers.





    Apple's recent actions regarding divesting their storage array and slow Xserve development is telling us exactly what we need to know. They aren't interested in trying to keep up in this market. That's fine. The Datacenter of the future is going to be heavily virtualized..the hardware is commodity. Engineers want flexibility to move resources around at will.



    Why shouldn't Apple get a piece of this pie? They do fine with their notebooks and desktops and there's need to divest those goldmines but there's no way they're going to keep up with the server needs and they don't have to.



    All they need to do is certify a hypervisor, server platform and develop the appropriate connecting infrastructure to access all resources.



    Apple sits back and smiles knowing they get to profit from the services and support contracts but the heavy lifting is being done by others (hardware engineering)
  • Reply 3 of 6
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by hmurchison View Post




    Apple delivers OS X 10.6.5 with Hypervisor support.



    The first partners are



    VMware for Hypervisor

    HP servers



    Hypervisor support on non-Apple hardware? Wishful thinking. This is no different than Apple licensing 3rdparties to make Mac clones. What I think is possible is for Apple to support running multiple instances of OS X on Apple hardware.
  • Reply 4 of 6
    hmurchisonhmurchison Posts: 12,131member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by ThinkingDifferent View Post


    Hypervisor support on non-Apple hardware? Wishful thinking. This is no different than Apple licensing 3rdparties to make Mac clones. What I think is possible is for Apple to support running multiple instances of OS X on Apple hardware.



    Yes but running multiple instance of OS X Server on Xserve is a niche within a niche.



    Virtualization in today's datacenter requires that you have the ability to manage your VM efficiently. Even if Apple's OS X Server EULA allows for multiple instances they have no tools for managing the instances.



    Apple should do what they do best. Develop software ..focus on their mobile platform and maintain their desktop and notebook lineups and give OS X server a chance to breathe. Right now it's a waste of Unix.



    The reason why I say support VMware and HP is because it reduces your support costs. Sure ..someone may install it on an unsupported platform but they wouldn't be getting support.



    The reason why I chose HP for vendors is because of their tools for managing servers is tops. Their BladeSystems are given top billing as well. OS X Server could be a nice fit in a bladed environment.





    It makes so much sense. The only gotcha is the potential support costs but then again people are paying for that and software development but a partnership with HP could mean sharing the development costs.



    The Xserve will never be more than a niche. IT depts that move to heavy virtualization of their datacenters are not going to be keen on purchasing Apple servers that don't talk to VMware/XenServer/VirtualIron/Parallels.
  • Reply 5 of 6
    mdriftmeyermdriftmeyer Posts: 7,194member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by hmurchison View Post


    It's time for Apple to exist the Server market and virtualize OS X Server







    Much more to the article. Basically he's right. OS X server will never be more than a niche product. Apple should save the engineering resources. Create an acceptal EULA and support strategy and pricing and license OS X Server for use in heavily virtualized environments. They're likely not selling enough hardware to really make the justification for their continued efforts. IMO of course.



    You truly show your lack of IT Administration when you don't think OS X Server is useful and only a niche market.



    What you haven't seen from Apple is an actual Enterprise Strategy. They've been busy making sure everyone circle jerks for their Music and Phones.



    Once the iPhone enters the Enterprise Arenas they can then work on vertical market inroads.



    The Server Platform is solid.



    XServe might not be what you want but nothing from your comments or this article are remotely showing any scenarios to explain the Virtualization environment and not the current setup.



    In short, speak to professionals who have deployed OS X Server Networks and XSan environments.



    Since Apple hasn't even bothered to actually tarket the Enterprise, yet, we'll have to wait until after WWDC.
  • Reply 6 of 6
    hmurchisonhmurchison Posts: 12,131member
    Nope I don't do IT Admin. I'm working on my design chops. I do like the Xserve and would love see Apple put more work into it but I question the ROI as opposed to focusing on the iPhone and Mac OS based products.



    OS X Server and Xserve feel like deadweight right now. I'm beginning to think they could be more profitable by licensing and use the increase in OS X Server installs to push more iPhones, Mac Pro, iMac and Mac notebooks.



    The play right now is consoldidation. Those companies big enough to have any modicum of server sprawl are eyeballing virtualization at multiple levels to consolidate.



    Though I understand the typical Mac users reticence towards the idea. We've always been accustomed to our Mac platform being "unique" but the reality is today even servers are commidity.



    1U 1 Socket

    1U 2 Socket

    2U 2 Socket

    4U 4 socket



    It's all the same stuff. Vendors are diffentiating themselves with management software and BladeSystem.



    Now think about it. We all care about our Macbook or iMac connecting to OS X technologies. Nothing changes here but the logo on the outside of the box. Imagine having a BladeSystem running OS X server and XSAN with seperate blades running your XSAN metadata controller.



    Imagine what Final Cut Studio users could do? I think Apple could be highly profitable with such a venture. They'd remain a hardware company where the profits are easier to obtain.
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