PC Magazine Really, Really Likes Xserve

What if Apple built a UNIX server, one thatis dinky, yet powerful enough to fill small to medium duty server jobs in a wide range of environments; from a small doctoris office to file serving a project in a Corporate 500 business? What if Apple included all sorts of goodies with this server, like standards based applications that cover nearly every possible server need you may have? What if Apple built this server and appointed it so well that even PC and UNIX folks looked on it with anticipation or envy?

About 6 months ago Apple put a lid on the what-ifs when it introduced Xserve. Since then Xserve has gotten nothing but praise from nearly every corner of the IT world. Publications that normally cover UNIX, Linux, and PCs, have been releasing articles and reviews that stop just short of gushing over Appleis latest server try. The latest radiant review comes from PC Magazine, in which reviewers Robert P. Lipschutz and Brian Kenny state:

The Apple Xserve server, equipped with the new Mac OS X Server 10.2 operating system, defies categorization: It does many things well and at an affordable price. This rack-mountable (1U) serveris flexibility comes from the combination of robust hardware, a great OS, and extensive software for almost every task you might expect from a server. The end result is a powerful file, Web, custom application, videoconferencing, and streaming audio and video server.

The reviewers liked the expansive set of features and applications included with Xserve:

The Xserve comes standard with dual Gigabit Ethernet ports, two USB ports, and three FireWire ports. It is powered by a 1-GHz Apple PowerPC G4 CPU with 256K of L2 cache and 2MB of L3 cache. We tested it in the ultimate Xserve configuration ($7,099 direct), which has dual 1-GHz processors, 2GB of DDR SDRAM, and four 120GB ATA/ 100 hard drives. Surprising for Apple, the Xserve has turned away from more expensive, lower-capacity SCSI drives to less-expensive, hot-swappable ATA/100 drives. Each drive is controlled by its own 100MB master interface to maximize the data througHPut, leaving even Ultra 160 SCSI drives in the dust.

Apple designed the Xserve to be an administrator-friendly server. Linux and Unix people will appreciate the terminal and command line interface, and Mac and Windows folks will like the GUI tools, namely the Aqua interface and the Server Monitor management application, a remote management tool. We administered the Xserve both directly and via the Server Monitor tool.

Configuring the server, user accounts, and services was a breeze. In fact, service configuration in Mac OS X 10.2 Server is so easy that it actually confused us on some points. For instance, we had trouble enabling file services for Windows. But after looking for 20 minutes, we found the single Windows File Sharing button right in front of our face, hiding in plain sight. Too easy.

The Xserve comes with so much software that it really can do almost anything. The server can be used for workgroups, departments, or Internet-facing applications. The Xserve comes out of the box ready to provide Unix, Windows, and Macintosh file services. The Mac OS X Server software supports AFP for Macintosh, NFS for Unix, and SMB/CIFS for Windows. The Xserve also provides support for many enterprise networking standards, including LDAPv3 for directory services and SNMP for network management services.

Stop by PC Magazineis Web site and check out the full review and, if you have some Xperiences with Xserve, be sure to offer your own thoughts and rating.