With little fanfare, Apple announced the demise of its Xserve line of 1U rack-mount servers back in January. You can't really blame it -- sales were tiny and Apple never really marketed Xserves at all. I miss them, though, because the last generation was a line of 1U servers done the Apple way with Apple fit and finish, including an optional inboard 128GB SSD that freed up all four hot-swap disk bays in the front. Nice.
But with the Xserve gone, it's good-bye enterprise and hello more iStuff for consumers, right? Not so fast.
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All that iStuff is revolutionizing business computing, with so many executives sporting iPads, iPhones, and iWhatevers these days. In many places they've broken the CrackBerry habit completely, and BES servers that used to be extremely busy are idling forlornly, still stubbornly proxying Web traffic to an equally forlorn BlackBerry Storm wielded by an executive who has grown to hate it.
Now more than ever, Macs are popping up all over the corporate landscape. I personally know of dozens of cases where users eschew their corporate desktop in favor of their personal MacBook Pro. Naturally, this can give IT security admins fits because they don't fit into the Windows XP/7 box, but when the tide is rising, you have to rise with it. In fact, in some large companies users can get a corporate-issue Mac as easily as they can get a Dell or HP. Somewhat surprisingly, this number includes IBM, Oracle, and Citrix Systems, or so I've been told.
Then there are companies developing private apps for iOS devices to do everything from data input to shop floor monitoring. Apple has backed into the enterprise on the client side -- and made more inroads than it ever could have with pallet upon pallet of Xserves.
It makes me wonder: Are all these business clients a herd of little Trojan horses? Could Apple be preparing a play to capitalize on the traction it's already enjoying? These days, that could easily come in the form of a set of cloud services, removing the need to ship any hardware.