For someone old enough to remember the Xserve (bonus points for remembering the Xserve Cluster Node), the Apple October 30th, 2018 keynote had a very special moment.
The long-awaited update to the Mac mini was finally announced by Apple! Tom Boger, Apple’s head of Mac Product Marketing, highlighted the new Mac mini’s features, while also delving into a number of traditional creative pro use cases during his presentation. He ended the use case lineup by featuring the Mac mini as a build server, starting with a single Mac mini, transitioning to a build farm consisting of 16 Mac minis. Tom ended the presentation with a picture of some of the 8,000 (!) rack-mounted Mac minis at Macstadium!
I immediately thought of the Virginia Tech cluster.
I found the new product positioning interesting enough and can only assume that the Space Grey and pitch-black product page are a hint too. I definitely don’t think this means there is a new Xserve on the horizon, as Apple killed the Xserve long ago, with good reason. Today, in an environment in which iPhones, iPads and Macs can and are easily integrated into most corporate environments, there is little to no reason to deploy a Mac server in the data center. There are actually even less reasons to deploy ANY server in your own data center given you can provision a virtual server in minutes from services like Amazon AWS or Microsoft Azure.
With that said, Mac servers remain the required hardware for software development, and for testing and deployment of Apple platforms at scale. Most Apple software tools run on macOS only, and the standard macOS license agreement states in no uncertain terms the limitation of installation to an „Apple-branded computer “only.
I was very pleasantly surprised to witness Apple product marketing officially endorsing this, at least from Trillion-Dollar-Company perspective „niche" use case and business model on stage. That’s great news and comforting to know for small guys like us who rely on this kind of infrastructure!
Mac Infrastructure-as-a-Service providers like Macstadium( US) or EBF (Germany) come in very handy for companies who are looking to deploy a Continuous Integration solution like Jenkins, or our incapptic Connect App Release Orchestration solution for mobile apps.
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