Apple Killing Xserve Server Line, Asking Clients To Consider Mac Pro, Mac mini


Apple is discontinuing its Xserve line of rack mount servers and transitioning its server customers to the company's Mac Pro and Mac mini.

Apple on Friday said in a document entitled, "Xserve Transition Guide," that it plans to end sales of its Xserve server line on January 31. New servers sold until that time will include the standard one-year warranty, and customers will be able to purchase an extended three-year warranty.

Apple plans to continue offering its current shipping 160-GB, 1-TB, and 2-TB Apple Drive Modules for its Xserve servers until end-of-year 2011 or while supplies last. The company also said it will continue to support Xserve customers with service parts for warranty and out-of-warranty service.

Apple has a couple of options for business customers and solution providers looking for an Xserve alternative, including its Mac Pro and Mac mini lines.

However, neither of the alternatives offer a couple of key business-friendly features included with the Xserve.

For instance, the Xserve server comes in a standard 1U rack mount form factor, while the Mac Pro has a tower form factor and the Mac mini is designed to sit on a desktop. Apple did mention that the Mac Pro and Mac mini could sit on a shelf in a rack, but the Mac Pro takes 12U of space.

With three drive bays, the Xserve offers 6 TBs of total storage capacity in 1U of space.

With the end of the Xserve, Apple's server lines will no longer include lights-out management. With lights-out management, customers can power the servers on or off, reboot the, and monitor them remotely without visiting the server rack.

The Xserve is also Apple's only server product to include dual redundant power supplies, a key server feature that keeps a server running if a power supply should ever fail.

Apple said in its "Xserve Transition Guide" that its Mac Pro offers the same server performance as its Xserve in all configurations up to the 8-core version. The Mac Pro can be configured with 12-core Intel processors, which gives the Mac Pro a slight performance edge over the Xserve in terms of internal disk performance and when used as a mail server. However, in terms of file sharing and Web server performance, the two are the same.

The Mac Pro does provide for additional memory and total storage capacity compared to the Xserve, but because of its size it does not offer the same processor or storage density as the Xserve.

What About The Mac mini As A Server?

Apple also offered the Mac mini as an alternative to the Xserve. However, in terms of total capacity and performance, the Mac mini is a significant step down for customers. Also, it has only a single Gigabit Ethernet interface compared to the dual-Gbit Ethernet interface configuration of the Xserve and Mac Pro.

Apple said the Mac mini is a good alternative for SMBs and workgroups of up to 50 users. It also positioned the Mac mini for use as a single-task server for larger workgroups, education institutions, and businesses.

Apple also said the Mac mini consumes only 11 Watts of power when idle, and can be used with a low-cost UPS for backup power in case of a power outage.