One of the more interesting notes to yesterday’s Apple announcements is the addition of the new Mini Server, a compact little product that sports two 500 gb drives and Snow Leopard Server, a $499 addition by itself. Mac geeks have been using Minis as servers for years – see macminicolo if you don’t believe me – but why would Apple announce it now?
A Mini server would definitely fit under the “niche market” category, just like the AppleTV seems to be, but it may also be an affordable way for small businesses to break into the server market. Buying an XServe isn’t cheap; there’s the individual unit, any custom tweaks or software and then the cost of Snow Leopard Server to consider, making the entry point for a business wanting a Mac server to roll well into or close to the $4g mark. Not everyone has that kind of capital, particularly when Windows or Linux servers are available for very competitive prices.
But for the small business owner, the person who has a staff of 4 and wants to host his own e-mail/web services/iCal calendars, this all of a sudden becomes accessible. With a substantially smaller price point, this becomes a viable option that I think a lot of small businesses may jump on. Sure, it’s not for everyone, but it’s not meant to be. I’m sure Apple would be fine if they sold only a few thousand of these servers in the first year. That’s because once those companies get bigger, they’ll need bigger servers and the XServe will be there to fill the gap.
It’s an interesting plan, and I can’t wait to see how it plays out.
I used to be in the business of selling web services including hosting and design. But it was very hard to get people to renew, which was where the money was supposed to be, plus I paid way too much for the Apachi server and monthly fees at the co-location site, and eventually had to close it down as a big money loser. Now I see a much better server available from Apple — the Snow Leopard Mac Server — and on a spare Mac or a mac-mini, it can be very cheap indeed to set up. My first Mac was an iMac about 18 months ago, and then recently I bought a MacBook 13″ Pro which is a great workstation, so I plan to install the SLServer code on my iMac, and move it into the garage, since it can be serviced on my MacBook and doesn’t need personal attention once set up. I’m also thinking of selling web services again, but my prior experiences don’t get me much excited about this — so I may just end up using it only for my own purposes. One problem has been the difficulty of getting detailed info on this product, as books on it are not yet available from Amazon or elsewhere as far as i know. And I always want to know everything that I can discover before starting anything new. Apple offers a 30 day demo of this product which I ordered, but it’s been a long time, and has not yet come, and I’m getting tired of waiting. So I guess I just have to cool it for awhile, as even the Apple Store staff which is usually very great, doesn’t know anything about this product yet.