5 Strategies for Replacing Your Apple Xserves Page 2

3. Replace your Xserve Xsan metadata controllers with an Active Storage ActiveSan appliance

If your organization is involved in the media industry, then you may well have a number of Mac OS X clients accessing data held on a storage-area network (SAN) using Apple's Xsan software. If that's the case then you probably have a pair of Xserves, running Xsan, acting as metadata controllers.

A California-based company called Active Storage, led by ex-Apple employee Alex Grossman, has announced an appliance called ActiveSan, which works as an alternative metadata controller to Xserve for Xsan.

The appliance runs CentOS Linux, and is easier to set up than an Xserve running Xsan, according to Grossman. "Apple customers are spoiled -- they get UNIX under the cover, and Xsan on top. But we've made it even easier for them with our appliance as there is no need to install OS X and then Xsan," he told ServerWatch. Configuration is carried out using a Mac OS X thin client app that can manage ActiveSan appliances in pairs.

The appliance is designed to be a straight 1:1 swap for an Apple Xserve, and although it is more expensive, Grossman claims that this is compensated for by the fact that the ActiveSan appliance has additional features. These include the company's ActiveStats software, which monitors the state of your network's metadata controllers, RAID, switches and other infrastructure, pinpointing any bottlenecks when they occur. The ActiveSan appliances can also use ActiveStore's Interpool technology, which allows you to store metadata in the appliances rather than taking up space in your expensive primary storage.

4. Replace your Apple Xserve web servers with Linux and Apache

OS X Server Web server functionality can be replaced by a standard 1U server running Windows Server 2008 R2's IIS server. However, a Linux server running the Apache HTTP Server may be a more cost-effective choice for companies with Linux administration experience considering Apple migration.

5. Move away from the Apple hardware platform altogether

Given that Apple announced the end of its server hardware line "out of the blue," there's no guarantee the company will not also discontinue OS X Server at some point in the near future. That means it is prudent to, at the very least, consider migrating away from OS X altogether -- on the desktop as well as in the server room.

Given the power and security of Linux and the sheer size of the Windows software ecosystem, coupled with the availability of low-cost hardware on which to run these operating systems, there are arguably very few valid reasons why any organization should want to use OS X in a corporate environment in the face of the uncertainty that surrounds the future of the platform.

Paul Rubens is a journalist based in Marlow on Thames, England. He has been programming, tinkering and generally sitting in front of computer screens since his first encounter with a DEC PDP-11 in 1979.

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This article was originally published on Feb 24, 2011
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