Opinion: What Apple's Xserve abandonment really means

The company's real focus has been, and remains, on small business

Apple stunned the Mac IT world recently when it announced that it is canceling production and sales of its Xserve. The decision has prompted anger, dismay and confusion from Apple's enterprise and other business customers.

Intentionally or not, Apple's announcement coincided with the first MacTech conference, for IT staffers and Apple developers. That conference was started as a result of Apple focusing exclusively on the iPhone OS (iOS) at its most recent Worldwide Developers Conference, held earlier this year.

Why the Xserve rocked

The Xserve was the first true rack-mounted server Apple produced and the only machine it ever created to a 1U specification, making it at home in the networking closet of a data center. Apple produced versions of the Xserve with both Power PC and, later, Intel chips. From an IT and engineering perspective, Xserves have been great machines that are highly configurable and offer enterprise redundancy features. They're also the only Mac models to include lights-out management.

Apple Xserve
Apple's Xserve was available in two basic flavors -- a quad-core version, or an 8-core model, both with Intel Xeon processors. Photo courtesy of Apple Inc.

The Xserve has been used in schools, design shops and scientific research facilities. It offers great scalability and has been an excellent choice for computing clusters as well as being a great bridge to Apple's Xsan fiber-channel file system. (This link to Xsan happened first with the Apple-produced Xserve RAID and later with third-party hardware.)

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