As the transition guide (PDF; linked to from the Xserve Resources page) explains, the two options going forward will be the Mac mini with Snow Leopard Server and the Mac Pro with Snow Leopard Server. To me, the gap seems painfully wide, with the following completely lost:
- A powerful 1U option. Yes, you can fit 2+ Mac mini servers in 1U, but that’s not always the correct solution, nor will it yield the same raw processing throughput. Only being able to fit two Mac Pros in a whopping 12U of rack space is an astounding waste of space unless you actually need the internal storage & PCI Express expansion.
- Hot swappable internal storage. I won’t miss the price tag of Apple’s drive modules, that’s for sure, but they did an excellent job of ensuring they were actually enterprise-grade. It’s slightly painful to think that both their server options will require a power down and to be pulled out of the rack2 just to swap a drive.
- Redundant power supplies. I’m all for the lower power consumption of the Mac minis and Mac Pros, but the fact that Apple will have no server hardware that can be gracefully transitioned between power sources is very disappointing for those needing high availability.
- Lights-Out Management. I personally don’t use LOM, and I frequently hear complaints about Apple’s LOM implementation, but the number of times I could’ve used it and not had to send someone to the server room (or drive in myself) is way up there. So, not even having it as an option is an additional downer. Maybe someday the Mac Pro will get LOM.
That said, the Mac Pro is a far more formidable piece of hardware than the Xserve, and the pricing of the Mac Pro with Snow Leopard Server, much like the Mac mini with Snow Leopard Server, is pretty much just throwing in a copy of Snow Leopard Server. Also, as Brian Stucki of Macminicolo.net put it on Twitter, “WAY too many small business put money into [an Xserve] when a Mac mini would have been perfect.”
It’s clear that Apple is saying goodbye to “Enterprise” and honing in on the SMB market.
1 Of course, there may be some old stock available through Apple Specialists and Apple Authorized Resellers.
2 If you have two Mac Pros on a shelf in a four-post rack, you can probably, depending on the positioning of side panels & cross-members, pull the side off of one of them to swap drives. Pain in the ass, though.