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Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Thoughts on an Apple server strategy

With the demise of the XServe, I have been thinking more about Apple's future server strategy and here are a few of directions Apple may be considering:

  1. Licensing or Open Sourcing Mac OS X Server
  2. Pushing the Mac Mini Server
  3. Creating an iOS based server

The case for licensing or Open Sourcing Mac OS X Server
Apple may be considering opening up their server OS.  The first indication of this was allowing it to run in a virtual machine and all of the major Mac VM makers are supporting Mac OS X Server as a guest OS, but only on actual Apple hardware.  There are no technical reasons the OS won't run on generic PC hardware in a VM, in fact, I think Oracle's Virtual Box team has done it.  It is simply a licensing issue.  Apple is a product company, though, so I don't really see them licensing the software.  I do think it is possible that they would open source the rest of the Server OS in addition the Darwin core.  That way, Apple would not have to deal with the driver and support issues that go with running the OS on generic hardware.

Pushing the Mac Mini Server
Maybe the Mac Mini Server is cannibalizing sales of the XServe so much that Apple has decided to focus on the Mac Mini Server.  There are places like that run entire data centers of Mac Minis.

Creating an iOS based server
I have posted before on my thoughts about an  iLife Home Server.  What if this box is iOS based running an A4 or future Apple multi-core ARM chip?  This box could be very small and energy efficient, the OS could be installed on an SSD for speed and then use hard drives for data storage.  It would be really cool if the base was the size of a Mac Mini with both SSD and a hard drive in it and some form of "dock" connector on the top that would allow for additional data storage to just be stacked on the top.  The OS would automatically expand the storage volume to add the additional space, when you are running low on space, just add more drives to the stack.  The server would be administered through either a web browser interface or an iOS app installed on any iDevice on the local wi-fi network.

Or, maybe Apple will do all three?

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