Apple’s Xsan pricing likely to turn heads, but can it change hearts?

“SAN file systems are a great idea, if you can afford one. They enable multiple users simultaneous access to the same file, but the price tag for this functionality, which includes sophisticated stuff like multi-platform data sharing, policy-based provisioning and file-level locking, is outrageously steep,” Jo Maitland reports for

“For example, the starter pack for IBM’s SAN file system costs $90,000, while Advanced Digital Information Corp. (ADIC), considered one of the cheaper options, charges between $3,000 to $5,000 per node,” Maitland reports. “Apple Computer, Inc. plans to undo this notion of expensive storage software with the launch of its Xsan SAN file system this fall, for just $999. It’s also worth noting that Apple doesn’t charge more when you add extra storage to the SAN.”

“Peter Gerr, senior analyst with Enterprise Strategy Group, noted that most users are unlikely to hire Apple to design a 5,000-port SAN, just like they wouldn’t look to IBM to design a cool walkman or handle post production on a movie. However, he said Apple’s pricing is a departure from its usual model. ‘They tend to command premiums, and users are typically ready to pay more for the luxury of using well-made equipment


  1. This is huge. I’m a big believer in Xsan, so I hope it flies. It’s already been mentioned in an article in InfoWorld. With this kind of pricing, I sure hope this will cause some companies to buy into it.

  2. That’s the beautiful thing about the price though. A company can “buy into it” for almost nothing. If something goes south with it, they’ve lost next to nothing and quite probably saved loads of cash while they used it. That said, I highly doubt anything will go south. Worst case, it isn’t as feature complete as some may hope in 1.0, but that will be fixed by 2.0 for sure.

  3. well, i wouldn’t agree that this is a departure from apple’s pricing model, at least for software. Apple commands premiums on HARDWARE. But, for a while, apple has been selling pro software and enterprise for much less than competitors. Think of OS X server with unlimited liscenses vs. windows xp pro. Or, another example, Final Cut Pro and the other pro apps, all costing much less than their competition (FCP vs. Avid).

  4. Re: Joel, the ver 1.0 is probably going to miss some (or some more) features compared to competitors. And as you point out, most of them are probably going to be added in a 2.0 (or 1.6 or whatever) version. However, as you and I (and most other readers here know), it is important to point out to “outsiders” that when looking at bugs and problems, a “Apple ver 1.0” equals at least a “M$ ver 3.5” version, or whatever other company. For outsiders, this is important to point out – even mission-critical ver 1.0’s from Apple are possibe to use in a live environment. Not so with most other ver 1.0’s.

  5. someone forward this article to Michael Dell.. I’m serious.

    As usual the PC industry has no clue, and is sitting on the fence…

    Well, Macs are affordable.. the stereotype is them being overpriced right? Yeah.. I thought they were overpriced.

    Not that I’ve actually looked at what comes with a Mac, or ever wondered how they’re still in business..

  6. The IT world is populated by lemmings, sheep and me-too people. The IT sales world is populated by mule-skinners, used car salesmen and politicians. No wonder so many spread FUD and so many buy into it.

    Think Different

  7. But from 40 years of experience designing, programming and maintaining large multi-user systems, there is another angle here. The more an organization spends of hardware/software–no matter its quality–the more committed to it they tend to be. Believe me, great functionality at a low price is not always an easy sell. Also there’s the old CYA, “I went with the best company,” even if it cost a fortune and never worked.

  8. I think Xsan is going to be a big hit in the video field. I’ve been working with Avid and their Lanshare sever and it’s been nothing but one headache after another. Give me G5’s with FCP and Xsan and I could do more editing and less troubleshooting. That’s what the video world wants!

  9. I don’t understand the pricing. IBM’s $90,000 price tag seem to include the disk storages (they seem to be selling the switches for $5,000). ADIC seem to be selling switches, but no disk storage. In another words, end users can choose whose disk storage units to use (if you already have a large installation of disk storage units, their solution still may be better. However, if I’m planning the conversion I will want to buy new disk storage units, test the installation before actual switch over.) Apple will sell switch for $999, but I believe the end users will have to buy Xserve RAIDs.

    Apple probably will be selling many Xsans and Xserve RAIDs (not just to the Xserve users). This will be yet another Apple Trojan horse (YAAT), this one seem to targetted to the big business with large installation of unix workstations.

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