StorageMojo reported last June 19th a rumor that Apple’s Xserve RAID would bite the dust. And now, exactly 8 months later, they’ve pulled the plug.
I saw a wall of Xserves and Xserve RAIDs at NAB last year and they were, without a doubt, the prettiest server/storage combo in the world. Brushed stainless steel, blue LEDs and the symmetrical installation looked like Hollywood’s idea of a computer. (Although the server room in Live Free or Die Hard is even crazier.)
Replaced by the Promise Vtrak
Not as pretty but more functional. The Xserve RAID didn’t have dual-redundant active/active controllers with failover, so users had to rely on software mirroring. An OK solution, but not a great one.
Xserve RAID’s big advantage, other than great looks, was price. A quarter the price of other FC RAID kit.
But with the Promise Vtrak arrays, Apple can now quote $1.12 per GB in 26 TB chunks. Pretty good! On a 4 Gbit FC backbone, they can deliver 6 streams of 8-bit uncompressed HD video. Pretty fast!
The Promise kit is fully redundant with hot-swap components. Not the sort of thing that Apple should spend money engineering. And it looks like it is packaged in a nice Xyratex enclosure, the standard of the industry.
Update: One commenter assures us that Promise doesn’t use Xyratex enclosures. I guess there are just so many ways to stick 16 drives into a 3U 19″ rack.
There also seems to be some angst over the apparent outsourcing to Promise as opposed to the Apple label Xserve RAID. Make no mistake, Apple outsourced the Xserver RAID as well to someone who did Apple’s industrial design. With Promise they are just making that apparent, probably because they get a better deal. But you still buy it from the Apple store, not Promise.
As an aside, Steve Jobs has many fine qualities, but his appreciation for how storage can extend Apple’s business is on a par with Scott McNealy’s – i.e. clueless. So it goes. End update.
The StorageMojo take
This move strengthens Apple’s thrust into professional video production and film editing. Their software-only competitors should be sweating, since Apple keeps throwing more functionality into Final Cut Studio, like Color, for very competitive prices.
With the release of Final Cut Server, expected shortly, Apple will have a storage-intensive software infrastructure that should meet the needs of many TV, cable and production studios. With low-cost storage they only make the business case more persuasive.
Apple will be moving a lot more terabytes this year.
Comments welcome, of course.
Update 2: I’ll be adding the Object Matrix price list to Price Lists shortly. They’ve built a cluster storage solution for Apple’s Final Cut Server archives. If you are waiting impatiently for Final Cut Server to ship you’ll want to check them out. End update 2.