Friday, August 31, 2018

RIP, macOS Server

Apple has always had a contentious relationship with the enterprise. When Steve Jobs returned to Apple 21 years ago he brought several enterprise and business computing initiatives. This included WebObjects and a high performance/high availability operating system in the form of NeXTStep and OPENSTEP. OPENSTEP went forward and became Rhapsody, then Mac OS X Server 1.0 and then Mac OS X and has served as the foundation for Mac OS X, iOS and macOS for the next 18 years and has seen a platform change from POWER to the Intel based chips as well as Apples own ARM implementations.

 Enter Mac OS X Server 1.0

 In 1998 Apple had this grand launch for Mac OS X Server 1.0 which debuted many unique features. This included simplified setup tools for common server tasks (If you are a familiar with Linux and UNIX you know these can be tedious exercises and lots of text editing) and features such as Netboot and resource sharing among diskless client. For the more techy readers out there you also had the ability to compile your own kernels and apply any of the BSD and MACH updates that you wanted and deploy them. Mac OS X Server 1.0 was a great product and is still used even in 2018 by many Apple customers who require functionality and stability over fashion and looks.

 Mac OS X Server and XServe 

Apple also had a couple of hardware offerings for Mac OS X Server. First was the G3 Server which was basically a Blue and White G3 desktop with more RAM, bigger hard drives and a 4 port network card and then came the special event where Apple had a lot of pomp and circumstance about the XServe. XServe was a great hardware offering and really laid the groundwork and design ethos for Server products for years to come. Apple had a few partners such as Oracle come and preach the highlights of the XServe and a few customers, most prominently ClearChannel which became iHeartMedia Inc.

Disclaimer: iHeartMedia Inc is a client and customer of PC/OpenSystems LLC and currently has a deployment of Linspire Server 2018.

But XServe only lasted a few years and then came the Mac Mini server. So now that the history lesson is done what is Apple doing to kill off macOS Server? Well if you go to this website

Apple is essentially stripping macOS Server of most server functionality. Which in all fairness can be added BACK to macOS Server through 3rd party solutions but what made macOS Server so damn great was the ease of use and the ability to deploy a fully configured server in 20 to 30 minutes compared to a couple of hours with Linux and other UNIX products, although I will concede Linspire Server 2018 is a comparable product to macOS Server in terms of ease of use and setup, Apple as a company just couldn't meet the needs of enterprise customers and their sales and marketing teams as well as their technical teams allowed their incompetence of dealing with Enterprise customers shine through.

 So what happened? Apple always had a love hate relationship with Enterprise customers. Steve Jobs preferred the consumer space over enterprise. When dealing with the consumer space you only have to deal with one customer. You only have to convince ONE customer that you have what they need in the Enterprise market you have to convince at least 12 people that your solution is the one that they need and serves their needs. Apple lost in the enterprise space because of their tight integration between software and hardware. They never had that “right fit” solution. They positioned the Mac mini as their disposable system but even now at $999.99 its not really a disposable system. Apple lost the enterprise because they could not provide realistic solutions to that segment of customers and Enterprise customers unlike consumer customers do not prescribe to a reality distortion field and rely on cold hard facts and numbers. So in closing. Thank you Mac OS X Server 1.0 - macOS Server. It was a pleasure knowing and using you. But macOS Server like Steve Jobs now belongs to the ages.