Apple’s Xserve was born in the spring of 2002 and is scheduled to die in the winter of 2011, and I now step up before its mourners to speak the eulogy for Apple’s maligned and misunderstood server product.
Chuck Goolsbee’s Eulogy is spot on, and every point is true according even to my limited experience. I’ve purchased 2 different Xserves since they were introduced. On is 2nd generation G4 model, the other is a 2006 Intel model (thankfully I skipped the G5 altogether). Other than a weird bug in the Intel based Xserve (weird blue video screen), there have been no bumps or quirks to report. I agree that form factor of the housing is way too long. Even in the rack I used (a discard SUN Microsystems unit), the thing was really inelegant. Speaking of the drive bays too is a sore point for me. I have wanted dearly to re-arrange reconfigure and upgrade the drive bays on both the old and newer Xserve but the expense of acquiring new units was prohibitive at best, and they went out of manufacture very quickly after being introduced. If you neglected to buy your Xserve fully configured with the maximum storage available when it shipped you were more or less left to fend for yourself. You could troll Ebay and Bulletin Boards to score a bona fide Apple Drivebay but the supply was so limited it drove up prices and became a black market. The XRaid didn’t help things either, as drivebays were not consistently swappable from the Xserve to the XRaid box. Given the limited time most sysadmins have with doing research on purchases like this to upgrade an existing machine, it was a total disaster, big fail and unsurprising.
I will continue to run my Xserve units until the drives or power supplies fail. It could happen any day, any time and hopefully I will have sufficient warning to get a new Mac mini server to replace it. Until then, I too, along with Chuck Goolsbee among the rest of the Xserve sysadmins will kind of wonder what could have been.