Apple last week introduced a new line of rack-mountable servers, due to ship in June 2002 and available for ordering now at the online Apple Store. The 1U (one rack unit in height) Xserve server offers single or dual 1 GHz PowerPC G4 processors, up to 2 GB of DDR SDRAM memory, up to 480 GB of storage in four hot-pluggable ATA/100 drives, two Gigabit Ethernet ports, three FireWire ports, two USB ports, and one DB-9 serial port. The 19-inch-wide, 1.75-inch-tall (48.3 cm by 4.4 cm) enclosure allows up to 42 units in a standard 42U rack, and requires no special tools to change or add components. On the software side, Xserve includes an unlimited-license copy of Mac OS X Server (normally $1,000 if purchased separately), which is pre-configured to include the Apache Web server, a mail server, QuickTime Streaming Server, WebObjects, MySQL, and file and print servers for Mac OS, Windows, and Linux clients. Apple also includes Server Monitor, an application that keeps tabs on a number of internal hardware sensors and notifies administrators of problems.
Pricing starts at $3,000 for a single 1 GHz G4 processor configuration with 256 MB of DDR memory and a 60 GB drive module. The mid-range dual-processor configuration is $4,000 with 512 MB of memory and a 60 GB drive module. A decked-out unit with dual processors, 2 GB of memory, and four 120 GB drive modules is $7,800. With the Xserve introduction, Apple is bringing back on-site repair and warranty options, offering up to three years of four-hour on-site response during business hours. There are also optional AppleCare Service Parts kits to enable users to keep spares on hand for mission-critical servers.
Apple’s past ventures into the enterprise server market have historically been short-lived. The Mac OS-based Apple Workgroup Servers, the AIX (IBM’s flavor of Unix) Apple Network Servers, and even the never-released Novell Netware for PowerPC servers are all examples. The last few years have shown Apple making strong strides into viable server software (such as the old Rhapsody-based Mac OS X Server 1.x, and the more-recent Darwin-based Mac OS X Server 10.x), and Xserve offers an astonishing combination of viable hardware and solid server software at a compelling price. Cost may be an obstacle to Unix network administrators who like to buy the cheapest Pentium-based hardware, but those who want serious server hardware, featuring an industrial-strength power supply and management features, are taking a close look at Xserve. We don’t blame them; we, like many others on TidBITS Talk, want one of our own.