updated 10:05 pm EST, Wed December 1, 2010
Many sticking with Apple-recommended alternatives
IT companies hoping to find a rich vein of new business assisting enterprises in moving away from Apple server hardware after the discontinuation of the XServe may be disappointed with the preliminary results of a survey conducted by the Enterprise Desktop Alliance, an industry group that represents such organizations. The survey has found that XServe owners mostly plan to stick with their current machines through the normal replacement cycle, and even then a substation portion plan to shift to other Apple-based alternatives rather than move to Windows or Linux.
The survey, which was conducted a month ago and comprised some 2000 administrators and in-depth questioning of 1200 of that group of XServe managers, found that 65 percent of respondents plan to continue using their XServes for at least the next two years. Of that group, about a third plan to eventually replace the XServe with one of Apple's recommended alternatives, such as the server edition of the Mac mini or the Mac Pro. Another third were unsure about what they would eventually replace their XServes with, but did not expect the transition to be any more costly than staying with Apple offerings.
The 1200 respondents were chose from large business or government organizations (more than 100 computers managed), K-12 and higher education, and smaller businesses. No computer sales or support providers were included in the survey. Across all users, the primary use of the XServe was as a file server (90 percent of all respondents), handling duties such as management support for Mac desktops and laptops, directory services, client management, workgroup managing and similar functions. Beyond file serving, the second most popular use of the XServe was as a web server.
The high rate of "unsure" responses when asked about future plans indicates that managers have not yet developed their strategies, perhaps waiting to see if Apple will produce a new form factor or other product that might fill the role the XServe played as well -- or better -- than the current options.
Of the remaining third who expected to have to transition away from Apple products when the time comes, Windows was the popular option for file serving, while Linux was more popular for web hosting. Managers were confident that migrating file services to Windows would ultimately be a less expensive option, but "unsure" was the most popular answer on the question of costs related to migrating away from Apple to other platforms for other types of services.
The survey found an unusually high loyalty to Apple within the XServe-using community, with 70 percent saying Apple's decision to eliminate the XServe did not affect their general commitment to Macs or other Apple products. A plurality planned to keep their XServes as long as the machines are still viable, and see what options are available from Apple (or others) when the time comes.
XServe owners were also found to have proportionally more Macs in their organizations; among respondents with more than 100 employees, XServe-using companies tended to have nearly four times as many Macs as similar organizations overall.
The survey is ongoing until December 15th, at which time a final report will be compiled. The EDA will be hosting a webcast on the topic of XServe transition options on February 1st.