For the Rest of You: Apple and Sun Options

1U servers aren't just for Intel or Windows aficionados.

1U servers arent just for Intel or Windows aficionados. Apple and Sun implementers who appreciate the space-saving benefits of a 1U box should cast their eyes on the Apple Xserve or the Sun Fire V210.

For businesses with a high percentage of Mac clients, the Apple Xserve ($3,424 direct for the tested configuration) will fit easily into existing infrastructures. It offers several powerful yet easy-to-use management tools, embedded in Apples Unix-based operating system Mac OS X Server.

The sleek-looking Xserve is powered by a 1.33-GHz G4 PowerPC processor with 256K of L2 and 2MB of L3 cache. The server can be ordered in a dual-processor configuration, but unlike the Intel-based servers we reviewed, a single-processor Xserve cannot be later upgraded to a dual-processor system; scalability is limited to storage and memory.

The Xserve is also unique in that it uses ATA/133 hard drives rather than SCSI devices, but it has four independent ATA channels and can hold up to 720GB of internal storage using Apples hot-pluggable drive modules. An optional dual-channel Apple Fibre Channel PCI card ($499) lets you connect to the Xserves RAID system for additional storage.

The neatly arranged front panel contains a slick slot-loading CD-ROM drive, a single 400-Mbps FireWire port, and indicator lights to display connectivity and system activity status. The rear of the server contains two 800-Mbps FireWire ports, two USB 1.1 ports, and a serial connection.

The Mac OS X Server software management tools stay in line with Apples user-friendly feel. Included utilities allow IT staff to administer client access to applications, printers, and other servers remotely, as well as manage your Macintosh network. NetBoot lets administrators create standard client configurations and deploy a single image across an entire workgroup, and Network Install lets them perform client OS and application upgrades and configure Xserve clusters over the network.

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