Why Apple had to kill Xserve

“Apple is not an enterprise hardware company. They make consumer computing stuff and any corporate penetration is a reflection of their success in the consumer world, not the result of a carefully thought out plan of enterprise dominance,” David Chernicoff writes for ZDNet.

“And that is why the Xserve had to die. Take a look at this image [below] of Steve Jobs standing in front of a picture of his new server room and you’ll see that there isn’t an Xserve, or any derivative hardware, anywhere in sight. In fact, the room appears to have rack after rack of HP Proliant DL 380 G7 servers,” Chernicoff writes. “And I’m pretty sure that they aren’t even running OS X Server (which Apple has never used in any of their datacenters as the primary OS).”

Steve Jobs and Apple's Maiden, North Carolina data center
Steve Jobs and Apple's Maiden, North Carolina data center

Chernicoff writes, “From the point that Apple decided to focus on cloud services and build giant datacenters, Xserve, and realistically, OS X Server, was dead for all but the most rabid fan. If you can’t point to your own gigantic sever infrastructure and point out why your enterprise hardware and software is the best, how would you ever expect to sell it to your customers?”

Read more in the full article here.

Related articles:
Apple’s last Xserve order could ship in April, XSAN next on chipping block – January 27, 2011
70% of Xserve customers say Apple’s discontinuation will have no impact on decision to buy new Macs – December 07, 2010
Why Steve Jobs pulled the plug on Xserve, and how Apple can reenter the server market – November 09, 2010
Steve Jobs on Xserve cancellation: ‘Hardly anybody was buying them’ – November 08, 2010
Apple offers new $2999 Mac Pro Server to replace Xserve – November 05, 2010
Apple discontinues Xserve as of January 31; will continue to fully support existing units – November 05, 2010


  1. That’s all fine and good, but as someone who runs Snow Leopard Server on a couple of different scales I must say my only fear here is that Apple at some point ignores local networks as if the cloud is the only place for their great technology.

    Pure Mac businesses networks like mine or perhaps our local school district need to have strong OS X server software so that we can do the things that matter to us — not just to consumers.

    I think Xserve died because it wasn’t profitable hardware. Because at the end of the day, the mac mini is perfect for my business and a mac pro is perfect for our school.

    Fortune 500 companies? Well, that was a market that Apple never got nor seemed to want.

    In the end, as long as the software is offered I could care little more about the hardware it runs on.

    1. +1

      This is the big concern now that Apple’s going all cloudy on us – what will happen to local network needs, or those of us who really don’t care to have any more of our data floating around outside our control than necessary? Why can’t we use OS X Server to run our own local “cloud” to keep our devices in sync? (Especially as Apple would stand to make money from the extra hardware & software purchased to do so?)

      I also agree that it’s most likely that Xserve hardware simply didn’t sell well. Unlike Microsoft, Apple doesn’t keep making things that people don’t want, just because they have money to burn while doing so.

      1. No, it’s not a big concern. If anything, it should relieve some of the concerns about syncing.

        iCloud makes it far easier, and very secure, to access your data in various places on various devices. Therefore you don’t need to create your own mini-cloud – just use what Apple and its crack employees have created for you!

        Xserve was basically a stopgap to iCloud. I’m sure Apple will continue to improve and update OS X Server, because there are many, many small businesses which can use its software and then still have a Mac-centric organization.

    2. I’m worried too.

      For a while I was thinking they’d eventually roll MobileMe technology into OSX Server (we were especially looking forward to the possibility of hosting MobileMe-style web apps for mail, etc.). Essentially letting us offer our team MobileMe features, but on our own hardware.

      On the other hand, making iCloud free means we’ll likely just use it for our calendars and contacts.

      Not sure what to do about documents. I can’t see us storing documents for our workgroup in iCloud, and the iPad is totally useless for working on documents without any practical way of getting files on an off of them.

  2. It’s not so much that they didn’t try to get into the enterprise server room, but there was no room in there what with all the Dell and HP reps on their knees giving out freebies to the upper IT management…

    I managed to complete a rigorous 6 month effort to get an xServer installed for my marketing group and it was an unending wound on the psyche of the IT ‘tards. They hated “it” (the xServe) and wanted it GONE.

    It didn’t matter that the xServe worked flawlessly for years without so much as a burp. I used to check in on it occasionally with ARD and sometimes I saw the IT staff playing around on it – too dumb to know I was watching.

  3. … Apple is leaving the Enterprise for the WIntel crowd? Isn’t that, perhaps, 30% of the total market? And I sure do hope that Apple is running Unix in their Data Centers – I’d hate for my various computers to catch a virus because Apple didn’t have the sense to protect their iCloud!
    It’s one thing to cut a line that is costing you money, another to cut one that simply does not provide sufficient profit. Is the miniServe strong enough to be the hub for a school district? If “yes”, then “goodbye xServe”. If “no”, then another answer need be provided. A “top” for the department, or district, or whatever SOHO needs.

      1. I don’t know about that, there are a ton of Windows servers out there.

        We have a LOT of Unix/Linux servers and a LOT of Windows Servers running 2003 Ent Server and 2008 Ent Server.

        We don’t have any Windows servers in core networking jobs but many are there doing everything from File Services to providing full remote desktops over Citrix for mission critical applications.

        We also have a large Active Directory forest and Windows is running that as well.

  4. Nice article! I think it’s another example of Apple (or mr. Jobs) just saying “no”.

    On a different note, hardware and software for a cloud solution is not the same beast as enterprise software or business severs.

    How to build a cloud that works is a new art. Apples priority is the performance of iCloud. They’re going to want the full might of the current technology landscape, which I’d bet is Linux on commodity hardware. Could it be the Darwin kernel?

    1. agreed, it’s easy and odd to speculate that Apple would consistently put so much development into the “client” OS and ignore the “server”/services.

  5. Yeah…cuz all of Apple’s enterprise customers are building $1 BILLION dollar data centers. This fool’s article has no legs. He’s just blabbering because he recognizes some HP hardware in a keynote photo. XServe died because small-mid size business are OVER served by a mini-server or three.

  6. A sever farm of that size needs a lot of interfacing, for that you need the hardware and the drivers… if either was missing in Xserve or OS X, then they needed something else. just my guess.

  7. When you only care about shuffling data around in the quickest time possible you really don’t need fancy GUI tricks and instant compatibility for thousands of pluggable devices. My guess is that these things are running a massively stripped down UNIX tailored completely to the task, possibly based on Darwin. Full OSX really isn’t required.

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