MacTech Assesses Apple’s Decision to Discontinue Xserve RAID
February 21, 2008

Earlier this week, Apple quietly discontinued the Xserve RAID, Apple’s
companion RAID solution to the Xserve. There’s been a lot of discussion
about what this all means to Apple’s server line, the Mac market that
relies on Apple servers and the future of Apple’s server solutions.

We talked to our contacts at Apple and confirmed what our analysis had
already revealed. Apple backed away from the RAID simply because they could
no longer add value in the way that they typically do. And, those resources
were better spent elsewhere.

To understand the future, you have to look back some. When Apple first
shipped the Xserve RAID, there were not a whole lot of options for RAIDs.
The available solutions were for larger installations, and extremely
costly. Apple needed a way to compliment the Xserve, and the Xserve RAID
was the result.

But over the past several years, a number of quality, value solutions have
come to market. Even more so, RAIDs have moved closer to a commodity than
they’ve ever been.

In the Mac market alone, there are RAID solutions from vendors like Sans
Digital, Promise, Nexsan, MiraLink, CalDigit, Enhance Technology, Micronet,
AMCC, G-Technology, EMC, and SoftRAID to name a few.

An Apple spokesperson talked specifically about how Promise’s solution can
deliver an “incomparable combination of performance and value.”
Furthermore, that it “delivers on the RAID needs” of Apple customers, and
“performance is fantastic.”

Clearly, if Apple stays true to form as expected, you should expect to see
Apple/Promise engineers working together so that Promise can release
products that further take advantage of the Xserve, as hopefully Apple will
with other storage vendors.

What’s clear, however, is that Apple is thinking even more about its server
line, not less. Leopard Server was released a few months ago, the Xserve
was upgraded in January, and the XSAN solution this week.

If Apple were moving away from the server market, we wouldn’t see Apple
aggressively releasing new server products on a schedule like this.
Dropping the RAID is simply Apple saying to itself “we can’t add value
here, and there are other good solutions.”

And that’s a good thing for the Apple server community and third parties.

MacTech Editorial Team