Apple yesterday unveiled its first dedicated rack-mount server. Called the Xserve, the sleek silver boxes represent Apple's first major foray into the enterprise market. The company also previewed a rack-mounted storage device that it plans to release later this year. Packed with dual 1GHz PowerPC G4 processors, the Xserve has built-in support for leading memory and networking technologies. Each server fits into a 1U (1.75 inches) rack space with a height of 1.73 inches (4.4 centimeters), and weighs 26 pounds (11.7 kilograms), despite earlier reports from Apple's developer show that the hardware was twice that size. It will run a server version of the company's Mac OS X operating system. Mac solution
With a price tag starting at US$2,999 (around £2,000) for the single-processor unit, Apple will begin taking orders for the Xserve immediately and begin shipping units to customers in June, Apple's CEO Steve Jobs says. Apple will sell the hardware through its direct sales channels and partners. The server operating system, Mac OS X, comes bundled with the hardware and it can be used by unlimited users with no extra licensing cost, the company says. Long anticipated by Mac enthusiasts, analysts this week say they expect the server to be an important addition to Apple's product line for such tasks as file serving, print serving, email serving and Web hosting. Apple also says that the server can be used for running database software. The company has teamed in the space with Oracle, which announced that the Oracle 9i database will run on the Xserve. Other partner software makers announced include Sybase, Hewlett-Packard and Adobe. One thing that has facilitated the debut of Apple's rack-mounted server, several analysts agreed, is the release of the company's latest operating system, which is touted as being more stable than previous versions and can support systems running on multiple processors. Robust
"As a server operating system, Mac OS X is even more robust," says Phil Schiller, senior vice president of worldwide product marketing at Apple. Customer support for the server hardware and software is also a major piece of the offering, Jobs says. The company created a new piece of software to allow systems administrators to manage hundreds of Xserves from a remote location. Called Server Monitor, the application shares the familiar Apple user interface and enables users to monitor the health of the hardware. Additionally, Server Monitor can alert system administrators through instant notifications over the Internet when the hardware is in danger of failure. Support
Apple will also offer various support services to customers, including 24-hour per day support and on-site support for larger customers. Jobs notes that besides Sun, Apple is one of few companies to offer hardware and software support from a single source. Adding to its enterprise push, Jobs offered a technology preview of a RAID (redundant array of independent disks) storage device it plans to roll out at the end of the year. At 3U in size, the rack-optimized storage unit includes 14 drive bays, 1.69TB of storage and dual 2Gb fibre channels. "It's an amazing companion storage product," Jobs says.