Apple made the right choice to kill the Xserve

“On November 5th, 2010, Apple killed the Xserve,” Thomas Brand writes for Egg Freckles. “At the time I thought killing the Xserve was a mistake. Like so many thousand Macintosh IT Professionals I thought Apple’s future in the Enterprise was tied to the existence of a shiny 1U rack-mountable Macintosh server. Without it how would the PC System Administrators ever take us seriously?”

“Looking back it is easy to see that Apple made the right choice,” Brand writes. “By killing the Xserve we have better Macs, phones, tables, and Apple TVs today. Mac OS X is stronger without the Xserve. Because instead of getting trickle down technologies from its server OS, Mac OS X got better battery life, and millions of new users from its phone operating system. Take that Microsoft. It is funny to think that the death of the Xserve, and not because of it, Apple now has more Macs in the enterprise than ever before. PC System Administrators eat your hearts out.”

Much more in the full article here.

39 Comments

  1. Killing off servers that Apple should have running their 5 plus server farms make no sense. You would think that Apple could not do more than 1 or 2 things at a time!!! Apple already had and still offers the server software. So, what is the issue with holding on to what you already developed. At some point, Apple is going to have to explain why they are using another computer company’s servers in their server farms.

    I can only think of a few big miss steps that Apple made over the many years I have used Apple products and this was one of them.

    This thinking that Apple can’t do more than 1 thing at a time is why AAPL is trading so low today.

    1. I’m sure OS X Server is great for small businesses and schools, who’ll use features like wiki server, file sharing, calendar and mail syncing. But does that make it a good match for Apple’s data centers? Apple needs the best distributed server network to quickly and reliably serve billions of iCloud and iTunes customers.

      Other companies can go on ideological crusades against the reliability of Linux web servers at their own peril. The success of iCloud and the iTunes store is too important to Apple for the let pride delude them into eating their own dog food in the server room.

    2. The long and short of it is, Xserve and Xserve RAID, while profitable, weren’t nearly profitable enough to be worth the engineering and management attention required to keep them around. The same engineers who designed the Xserve hardware (which sells in the thousands) can also design the next iMac (millions) or iPhone (tens of millions). I miss the Xserve too, but killing it was the right business decision.

      -jcr

  2. I agree. I just don’t see Apple catering to the enterprise market. Linux, and other flavors of Unix, is better for enterprise and IT. (Windows should be used by no one 😉 ). Apple should stay with what they do best, and that is making great consumer products such as the iPhone, and the Macintosh.

    1. Actually, Apple was competing very well in the server space, and when they killed the Xserve RAID, they were already the #3 storage vendor, and would have been #1 in another two years or so. However, the whole storage business still isn’t in the same league as Apple’s consumer products.

      -jcr

    1. I’m really not good at dancing… It’s not my thing, and I don’t like it, anyway. But, according to you I should just “buck up and keep trying”, at the expensive of the all the other things I really care about. Right?

        1. On the contrary, I’m not a quitter at all… I just don’t do things unless A) I want to do them, B) they’re rewarding, and C) I’m either exceptional at them, or I feel I can be exceptional at them.

          Since I don’t like dancing, it’s not rewarding, and I’m not exceptional at it, I choose not to do it. That doesn’t make me a quitter; rather, it makes me discriminating and selective about my pursuits.

          By your logic, you must still be actively doing everything you’ve every tried. If not, you’re a quitter.

          All the will and perseverance in the world doesn’t make up for lack of talent, and we can’t all be exceptional at everything.

  3. From my shareholder’s point of view, Apple’s attitude seems to be completely unreasonable. Of course, I’m not allowed to see Apple’s future plans, but presently Apple’s future looks very murky with Android standing in the way. Apple is paring its hardware business down to almost nothing and Wall Street says the company is relying too much on one product. The iPod line is now less than useless in terms of revenue and growth. AppleTV remains some hobby. I don’t know what sales are going to be like for the new Mac Pro and I don’t have a good feeling about it.

    Apple is sitting on a mountain of reserve cash and I just don’t get it. The company is scaring off big investors and it just appears to be stagnating. Apple doesn’t want to be bothered with a push into the enterprise yet with Android clogging nearly the entire consumer market I don’t see where the growth is and I doubt anyone else sees it either.

    Apple may have some grand plan but who knows for sure. If Apple gets into the processor designing business, I guess they could develop low-power server processors for enterprise use but that’s a stretch. I see Apple’s current growth as a question mark if it just continues to go head to head with Android in the consumer market. I truly believe they have to look elsewhere for growth and the enterprise seems like a good place to start in terms of selling more hardware.

    1. Apple’s future is no more “murky” than Google’s, Amazon’s, or any other company’s, and Google isn’t “standing in the way” of anything. If anything, Apple is very much “standing in the way” of Google!

      – The Apple TV is the #8 best seller in the electronics category on Amazon. I don’t think it’s so much a hobby anymore.

      – The traditional iPod has been superseded by the iPod touch and is also being cannibalized by iPhone and iPad sales. In case you haven’t noticed, the iPad and iPhone are selling very well.

      – The sales trends have reversed, and Android is trending down, while iPhone is trending up.

      – Android isn’t “clogging the entire consumer market”. Android is clogging the no-margin, no-profit, low end of the consumer market. Apple is still making excellent, industry-leading profit margins selling to more discerning customers with money to spend.

      Of course Apple’s current growth is a question mark; they don’t tell you what they’re doing next year, let alone two or three years from now! Did you just start following Apple this year?

      1. Apple have just reverted to the company that they have been for most of their existence, only the early years and for about 8 or so more recently have they been a massive growth company but those opportunities are limited and have to be harvested as opportunities offer themselves but until then to be a stable high profit business dominating profit in its main markets is a pretty good place to be.

    2. Apple’s future growth will come from those that are buying Android devices now. They will see the error of their purchase and flock to Apple in a year or two. It’s already happening with the last round of Android buyers!

  4. I still think it was a stupid idea……now that MDM is more popular and iOS being popular now would be the time to have the Xserve to support its devices or help IT support apple devices. Instead Apple is handing this over to third parties and making it more expensive to support Macs having to buy the software and support for it. Apple needs to bring back the Xserve or let OS X and Server run on VMWare on PC hardware. One of these things need to happen in the IT world!!!

  5. Correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t running Mac under VMWare on PCs already doable? I’ve seen many how-to articles on how to do this in the past, but I doubt Apple sanctions it.

  6. AFAIK, all the server-stuff, they buy COTS from HP, IBM, NetApp, Cisco etc. – at huge discounts most likely.
    They aren’t Google, who even make their own Switches.
    Personally, I was never that interested in actually owning X-Serve HW.

  7. Apple is a consumer products company, not business. They will never seriously compete in the business world which sucks but they’ve chosen that path and so be it. They don’t have the infrastructure to support businesses who need 24x7x365 running on 5 9’s. Sorry but true. I love my iPhone but they’ll never replace big iron and their own shops prove it.

    1. That is just a dumb statement. I’m sitting in a big ‘ol corporate environment with a hundred other users all on Macs, working on images for companies you have all heard of. This is big business, and with the exception of the number pushers, we all insist on using Macs. The kind of computer a business uses is the one that gets the job done most efficiently and profitably, and any manager going around saying you can’t have a Mac because it’s a “toy” is an idiot.

    2. Apple could easily offer 5 9’s if they wanted. They supposedly need to for iCloud. But even if we accept your theory that this is not Apple’s forte, there are tons of businesses that don’t need 5 9s, they are not telcos or banks, but they still would love to run Apple servers in their server room. This killing xserve was nuts, because even if the profit isn’t huge, it keeps everyone in the apple fold.

  8. This guy has his head in one too many clouds. Jeezy Peezy. Apple stuck their foot in the Enterprise, but they need to jump with both feet or stay out. And they will need a lot of help to even make that jump. In addition, there has to be a need for Mac servers, which anyone who has worked with Apple server knows, there isn’t much need for yet. Mac Server is still a “hobby”.

  9. Apple could build a great 1U server, and their customers could run Linux on it. Apple could still deliver a great hardware experience for enterprise customers.

    However, if Apple built a great OS X server, then w’d all get the benefit of the improved networking and virtualization services they’d need to compete with Linux.

  10. I never understood why there needed to be a Macintosh version of a network server. All a server does it give me the files I need to work on and then I give them back. Why do we need beautiful hardware for something that sits in a closet? My home network server an awesome Synology unit that just does it’s job, no fuss no muss and I manage it through a Safari window. Best of both worlds.

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