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Open letter to Jobs calls for OS X Server virtualization

updated 06:00 pm EST, Tue November 9, 2010

Educator offers "solution" to XServe loss

An Apple Distinguished Educator and University Executive Forum member, Dave Schroeder of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, has penned an open letter to Apple CEO Steve Jobs in reaction to the recent announcement of the ending of XServe sales. In it, Schroeder asks Jobs to extend the 2007 loosening of virtualization rules on OS X Server and allow it to be virtualized on non-Apple hardware. Without such a move, says Schroeder, the loss of the XServe will force a transition away from Apple server technologies, which will have "a significant negative impact on many major campus initiatives which impact your products and services, including iOS mobile development, campus-wide lecture capture with Podcast Producer, our iTunes U presence, our campus IP TV network, and ... critical services to Apple clients that allow those clients to exist alongside other platforms."

Schroeder's letter acknowledges that sales "in sheer units" was a deciding factor in discontinuing the XServe, but points out that small datacenters of XServes often support "hundreds and thousands" of customers. He also makes mention of Apple's response (later deleted) that other server technologies or software like the XSan or OS X Server are not affected by the XServe decision. But because datacenters have to plan far in advance for their future needs, any dropping of support on a particular product like the XServe forces an immediate reconsideration of support for Mac OS X Server, since it currently cannot be run on non-Apple hardware.

"We and many other organizations already have a virtualization environment which can take any Intel-based operating system -- except Mac OS X Server" writes Schroeder. "All that is needed to allow the next version Mac OS X Server to run in this environment is a license change, and minor technical changes."

"Without server-class hardware or the ability to run in our enterprise virtualization environment," he continues, "we lose the ability to run Mac OS X Server in our datacenter environment in any form."

Schroeder also argues that XServes cannot really be fully replaced by other machines, even the recent addition of a new server configuration of the Mac Pro. "While it is possible to rack mount a Mac Pro with third-party hardware," he continues, "it is a non-starter because of the lack of dual redundant power supplies, management capabilities, and spare parts kits, to say nothing of space considerations."

Schroeder reminds Jobs in the letter that he has spoken to the CEO and to Apple Vice President of Software Technology Guy "Bud" Tribble on previous occasions and that the need for virtualization was critical and growing rapidly. Schroeder proposes what he calls a simple solution to the issue: "Apple should allow the virtualization of OS X Server in non-Apple virtualization environments, with a commensurate license and pricing model."

"Steve, Apple may not be an enterprise company, but Apple has long been an education company," Schroeder concludes. "As I look around campus now, this is clearer than ever. Today, many academic institutions have mirrored successful and established enterprise practices to provide robust, supportable, and cost-effective IT solutions. This means that running Mac OS X Server on a Mac Pro or Mac mini is not an option at an enterprise level. Virtualization is an option, and it doesn't require Apple to develop or support any hardware. Please allow us to keep supporting your users."

by MacNN Staff



  1. Herod

    Joined: Dec 1969


    good luck

    apparently the mac mini should be able to fill the spot of that archaic server... according to steve.

  1. MyRightEye

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Getting rid of the XServe

    Was seriously one of the stupidest things Apple could have done. Clearly they are designing and building their own hardware for the NC data center and so could be about to release something else, but it doesn't seem so.

  1. mergy

    Joined: Dec 1969


    They really needed an XServe Billboard -

    So I created one for them... Perhaps this will change their mind and make the XServe a super-cool consumer must-have electronic device? Oh well

  1. donmontalvo

    Joined: Dec 1969


    I'd rather see a Mac>Wintel migration white paper.

    We've been migrating services off Xserve for years. Why? Two reasons.

    1. Apple has proven (again) that is not committed to enterprise.

    2. Datacenter will not support Apple hardware or OS.

    So with little effort and huge cost savings (both in terms of migration and resources for long term support), we've successfully migrated services over to Wintel. AFP (Wintel/ExtremeZ-IP), FMPS, QLA, UTS, and the list goes on.

    The only two services we can NOT migrate over are (1) Apple Software Update Server and (2) NetBoot. I'm hoping Apple provides a migration white paper for both of these services. Then we can drop-kick Xserve once and for all...and Apple can continue to do what they do best (provide the consumer market with cool stuff).

    Don Montalvo
    Dallas, TX

  1. Makosuke

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Tough Issue

    It's really an awkward issue; for whatever reason, the XServe wasn't a big seller. That's presumably why it got canned--it just wasn't making enough money to justify as a product. So from that simple business standpoint it didn't make sense to keep it.

    But what the XServe meant--what this open letter is getting at--is that Apple had the hardware available to make it possible to go Apple all the way in a large business. While for small to medium businesses a server tower, or even mini, is acceptable--just like Dell sells small business servers in the tower form factor--there is now nothing allowing high density servers for those few large businesses that wanted it. The tower also isn't really comparable in terms of parts swappability and robust construction for those with high uptime demands.

    Which is particularly unfortunate, because while OSX Server is fantastic in terms of small businesses being able to understand, configure, and maintain a server with a minimum of hassle, it also has a lot of big-iron potential.

    This puts big IT buyers in an awkward position of having the software tool available to do the job but no hardware to run it on. Allowing virtualization for OSX Server would certainly address this.

    Now, speaking as someone who's got an XServer running our relatively modest 25-user workgroup needs, which it's been doing reliably for 5 and a half years, 24/7, I really, really liked the XServe hardware. And I can understand why it didn't make business sense to keep it around. But really, give us an alternate option in place of it.

    The XServe RAID had this--a 3rd party solution lined up and ready to go when it was cancelled. How about the same for racked servers, Apple?

    Comment buried. Show
  1. ilovestevejobs

    Joined: Dec 1969



    Welcome to Apple Eco-System. All that money spent for nothing. :)

    Sucked into the people who believes Apple is a 'Good Guy' company.

  1. markf21

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Xserve Blade

    Has anyone stopped to think that since Apple is doing their own $1B+ Data Center in NC that they will possibly/probably release their own blade server package for the Enterprise and Education markets.

  1. facebook_Jesse

    Via Facebook

    Joined: Nov 2010


    Save the XServe!

    Please share your thoughts and comments and let Apple know that you want them to save this server!

  1. Bobfozz

    Joined: Dec 1969


    A Good Letter Mr Schroeder

    If Steve doesn't already have another rabbit in his hat, he will probably rethink this. Give the guy some credit. He's not stupid, only his detractors are.

    Comment buried. Show
  1. ilovestevejobs

    Joined: Dec 1969



    Welcome to Apple Eco-System. All that money spent for nothing. :)

    Sucked into the people who believes Apple is a 'Good Guy' company.

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