Apple Ending Xserve Sales, Will Offer Mac Pro, Mac Mini as Options

Apple will stop selling its Xserve system at the end of January, offering the Mac Pro and Mac mini armed with the latest Intel chips as server alternatives.

Apple is will no longer sell its Xserve server after the end of January 2011, instead giving customers new configurations of its Mac Pro systems powered by Intel's latest Xeon processors or Mac mini line.

In a message posted on its Website Nov. 5, Apple officials said they are "transitioning away from Xserve," which will not be available after Jan. 31, 2011, and instead directing customers to their new options, both of which run the Mac OS X "Server Snow Leopard." Apple also is offering customers a transition guide. The 160GB, 1TB and 2TB versions of the Xserve will be available to order up to the end of January, and those systems will be supported via Apple's full one-year warranty.

Apple has never been a significant player in the data center, and with the runaway success of such devices as the iPod, iPad and iPhone, the company continues to focus much of its efforts on the consumer market. The Mac Pro desktop PCs, armed with Intel's Xeon "Westmere" processors that offer up to six cores, can handle the tasks the Xserve currently does, according to the company. The Xserve is powered by Intel's older "Nehalem" Xeon chips, and the Mac Pro also can be configured with the older processors.

"Apple's desktop tower systems have long been utilized as servers," the company says in its transition guide, pointing to the latest configuration that not only offers the new Xeons but also a 512GB SSD (solid-state drive). "The most recent Mac Pro ... now surpasses Xserve in processor performance."

Overall, the Mac Pro tower system will offer up to 12 processing cores and 64GB of memory. The four storage bays will offer up to 2TB of storage on a hard drive or the SSD. The new configuration, which launched in August, starts at $2,999. Apple said the tower could be used as a solid alternative to the Xserve except where a high-density 1U (1.75-inch) rack-mount system is needed.

The Mac mini, first introduced a year ago, has become Apple's most popular server, the company said. Not as powerful as the Mac Pro, it works well in small businesses and workgroups of up to 50 people, or can be used for single applications for larger numbers of users, according to Apple. Company officials said that, depending on the workload, a single Xserve can be replaced by one or more Mac minis.

Apple upgraded the Mac mini family in June, not only with the Snow Leopard Server operating system, but also with a 2.66GHz Core 2 Duo chip from Intel.

Apple made a move to expand its presence in the enterprise Oct. 25 when it announced a partnership with Unisys.

Under the agreement, Unisys will support and service Apple products used by an enterprise and reportedly build more Apple apps for business use. Such devices as the iPhone and iPad have targeted consumers, but are making their way into the enterprise as customers look to use their Apple mobile devices within the work environment. Supporting the flood of new devices coming into the enterprise has been a struggle for IT departments in recent years. Partnerships such as the one with Unisys can help Apple smooth the path for their devices into the enterprise.