Apple announces new rack-mount server

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RAID is all about data protection -- all critical components are redundant. Dual RAID controllers -- drives, power, cooling -- all redundant. 14 independent hard drives, and each RAID controller connects to seven of them. Each has an independent ATA controller that goes to the heart of the system. 128MB processor cache in the RAID processor. Redundant drive cache, redundant fans. Will be Available by the end of calendar year 2002.

Steve introduces Alex Grossman, Director Server and Storage Marketing:

  • 3U height
  • 14 drive bays
  • 14 120GB ATA drives - in same hot-plug format as Xserve
  • 1.68TB
  • Dual 2GB Fibre Channel on system
  • 400MB/second storage throughput
  • Steve: One more thing...

    Technology preview of something we're going to roll out around the end of the year. A product called Xserve RAID, an amazing companion storage product.

    Now, Steve introduces two customers.

    ClearChannel -- Bobby Harris, director of creative technologies. We have 3000 Macs and three guys taking care of all of them. Content-creation with nonlinear, graphics prepress houses, and it's going to be pretty amazing to click a button and administrate all of them We're buying 40 of them, and I can't wait. The IT guys will be envious. I'm glad there's a tamper lock and alarms on them, because I think we're going to need them.

    Genentech -- Guy Kraines, vice president, Corporate IT. We got to use them, and we've got some observations. First, this is not a desktop box with rack-mount ears. From the physical design, the hot-swap capabilities, the remote monitoring -- this is a data center box. My guys in the data center are fully accepting of it. They did it right, right down to cable management. Second, performance. The G4 itself is a heck of a processor, especially with what we do. Velocity Engine doesn't just do Photoshop rendering well -- it does matching of genetic code really well too. The single most common application in bioinformatics is Blast. I'm not going to give you numbers today in terms of what we've done, but let's just say that this is not just a measurable improvement, but a meaningful improvement in helping us do what we need to do.

    Introduces Russ Daniels, vice president and CTO, Software Business Unit, Hewlett Packard OpenView: industry-leading services management solution. We monitor critical management data, analyze it and present it to you. We're thrilled to bring that capability to this new platform. OpenView is a multiplatform, multivendor technology, and makes heavy use of open standards.

    Introduces Mike Rocha, senior vice president, Platform Tech, Oracle: Oracle 9i on OS X -- we very excited about this hardware. Oracle is about low-cost clustering. Future releases will be on-time, synchronous. When we use UNIX native support, native APIs, optimized for this hardware, we can synchronize our releases so that our customers can have unified database versions across different hardware platforms.

    Steve Jobs returns to the stage

    Target Markets:

  • Education -- We think there's a great opportunity for us here.
  • Creative -- Apple continues to be the platform of choice.
  • Biotech.
  • Video.
  • Three separate offerings: premium support plan, the service parts kit and professional service offerings (custom plan for larger customers).

    What do customers want? They wanted 7 things:

  • They want products to work. Apple spends a lot of time testing products for reliability, and dual-platform customers say the Mac is better than their PCs in this regard.
  • They want really expert technical support. When they have a problem, they don't want to get on the phone with someone who's just been trained for three weeks. Consumer Reports tech support survey results: IBM 61, Compaq 62, HP 62, Gateway 71, Dell 72, Apple 73. And the very best when it came to support staff, and in limiting wait times.
  • They want problems solved, not a lot of finger-pointing. Hardware company refers you to software company, software company refers you to hardware company. Apple is fundamentally different, because we're designing the entire solution, hardware and software.
  • They want access to us, not 8-5, not banker's hours, but every minute, every day, all year long. As it turns out, we do this today at Apple for some of our customers, so we have experience here.
  • A group of them wanted to be self-sufficient, particularly in the hardware area. Xserve is simple and fast for servicing -- pull it out, replace parts.
  • A group of them said they wanted on-site support and don't want to touch anything. And we also do this today, for a group of customers, so we feel pretty good in this space.
  • They wanted speed. Really, really fast. In fact, the group that didn't want to touch anything wanted four-hour on-site support. We don't do this today. We've majored in learning how to do this in the past several months. And today, we're ready to do this. And for users who want to do this, we're providing them with a spare parts kit, so they can change stuff out themselves.
  • Server support is really hard... Applications running on servers are mission-critical. There is a lack of hardware-software integration on most servers, said Cook.

    Now, Steve introduces Tim Cook, executive vice president of Apple support and sales.

    Publishing demo: Canto Cumulus server.

    Server load demo: 400 simultaneous streaming connections, 50 percent server load, 211 megabits per second throughput, all on one server.

    A demo of Blast, used in genetic research to try to find matches in fragments of genetic code. Not only will Blast run on XServe, but on clusters of Xserves.

    A demo is taking place now of a Sybase database of NBA statistics, served through WebObjects.

    Server solutions demo: File and print, Internet, Web, Mail, Workgroup management, Database and applications, Media streaming, Computational clusters.

    "Edit Notifications" button lets you be warned, via e-mail or page, if something goes wrong with the server. It can be configured for single servers, or a whole groups of servers.

    Server Monitor demo: We see a list of all running Xserves on a local network, with a series of green "lights" showing server status. Green buttons refer to current status of the drives (all four bays), power, network connections (2 built-in and any others you add), fans (both of them) and software lock. Clicking on the green buttons shows you info about status of those parts of the server.

    Begin demo of Xserve and OS X Server

    New software: Server Monitor -- this is how you manage the hardware.

    OS X Server and Xserve provide a completely headless operation, SMP optimization, UPS support, 2-terabyte file system support, Net-SNMP and MIB II, for OS X clients. Management tools include Server Admin and Server Monitor, Unlimited clients (windows server requires expensive server licenses).

    Mac OS X server also includes Mac Manager 2, NetBoot, NetInfo, LDAP connectivity, Server Admin via SSH

    Internet and security: BSD, IP firewall, DHCP, DNS, SLP.

    Internet and Web services: Apache, QuickTime Streaming, WebObjects, Mail (SMTP, POP, IMAP), WebDAV, SSL, PHP, MySQL, Java, CGI, Caching Web Proxy.

    File and print services: Mac (AFP), Windows (Samba, SMB/CIFS), Unix and Linux (NFS), Internet (FTP, WebDAV), LPR/LPD and SMB/CIFS printing.

    OS X provides an Industrial strength platform: protective memory, preemptive multitasking, symmetric multiprocessing, industry-standard BSD networking and software RAID.

    Phil is talking Mac OS X Server -- we wouldn't have done this on OS 7, 8 or 9 -- the Unix of OS X is key.

    Phil Schiller has just come on stage.

    Compare this to the competitors:

  • Dell PowerEdge 1560 $4277 - 3 bays
  • IBM eServer X330 $5186 - 3 bays
  • Sun Fire 280R $19590 - 2 bays
  • Xserve $3999 - 266MHz DDR SDRAM, 4 bays means more total capacity
  • Apple is taking orders today and the server will ship in June

    Pricing & Availability starts at $2999 for two standard models: 1GHz G4 256MB DDR and a 60GB hard disk for $2999 -- 1GHz dual 512 MB DDR with a 60GB for $3999. But most people aren't going to buy a standard configuration -- they'll configure it themselves on the Apple store.

    Security: enclosure security lock, intrusion alert and software lock (FireWire, USB and CD-ROM can be locked down)

    We also have hardware monitoring, where we try to alert you to what needs service. We monitor drive status and pre-fail, temperature (processor and enclosure), fans, power supply and network link.

    You can service an Xserve in seconds. The units literally just slide out [like a drawer]. There's no top to take off.

    SMART drive monitoring, so we can do predictive failure on drives. The servers will have hot-pluggable drives that pull out of the front of the device in a custom-made carriage.

    "This is the fastest architecture we've ever built," said Jobs.

    We're going with ATA because they're just as fast as SCSI and they offer real benefits in term of largest capacities.

    Storage: 60GB and 120GB ATA/100 drives. (We support 4 drive bays, so that means 480GB max in a 1U server.)

    The server will have a dual 1GHz G4 processor, 256K L2, 4MB DDR L3 caches. System controller with custom ASIC done by Apple. Built-in: Gigabit Ethernet and FireWire. That controller has up to 2GB DDR SDRAM. (This is the first time that we know of that that SDRAM has been used in a 1U server.) In addition, it will have a PCI slot with gigabit Ethernet. This means server comes std. with two gigabit Ethernet ports. Quad ATA/100 drives, all on independent controllers and all have independent channels into system controller; a CD-ROM and 2 64-bit/66MHz PCI slots.

    Customers want to do:

  • file and print
  • web and email
  • database
  • QuickTime streaming
  • Computational (for example, Blast)
  • What they want from Apple:

  • Dedicated server platform
  • They want it to be rack-mounted
  • They want a lot of storage flexibility
  • They want serviceability
  • And they have to be able to manage these things remotely, so they want great remote management.
  • Though we're not on every desktop, we are in every Fortune 500 company. AOL Time Warner, Genentech... but Xserve is designed not only for business, but for education.

    "It's a 1U server solution designed from the ground up, and customer driven," said Jobs.

    Apple is now the largest UNIX developer in the world, said Jobs. We've seen a tremendous stream of innovation this year. We're going to add another piece of innovation today from Apple, and we call it Xserve.

    Steve Jobs has taken the stage.

    This story, "Apple announces new rack-mount server" was originally published by PCWorld.

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