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1514 posts

Uber Geek

# 140916 24-Feb-2014 14:42
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I have a bit of a dilemma. I have seven early 2009 Apple Xserves that I need to replace. All are spec'd with RAID cards and redundant power supplies, 12+GB of ram and 2TB HDDs.

A couple of the servers I can replace with Mac mini servers no problem. The issue is the main server which is running as an open directory master for 600+ logins and provides access for desktop machines with network logins. This server has over 1TB of user data which will need to be transferred to what ever replaces this server.

Now that Apple have dropped the Xserve and a bought out the new Mac Pro options for replacement hardware are limited. As far as I can see I have two options.

Option 1 : Mac Mini Server with an external disk connected to store that 1TB+ data on. Storing critical data on external drives makes me nervous as someone bumping a cord or a power pack dying could result in disaster.

Option 2 : iMac 27" with 3TB Fusion drive, this would be sufficient space wise however its a big risk having all of the data stuck inside a machine that only a authorised repair agent can open. In the event of a failed PSU of the likes I will be scrambling to restore an ENTIRE machine from a backup to keep services running.

I am wondering if anyone else has been in a similar situation and has come up with a solution bear in mind I want to stick with using Macs.


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267 posts

Ultimate Geek

  # 993379 24-Feb-2014 15:25
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"bear in mind I want to stick with using Macs"

This is going to be an issue, I will give you my opinion.
If you stick with Macs you really only have two options; the much more expensive and overly powerful Mac pro, or the underpowered mac mini, neither of which do redundant PSU (or 1U obviously). I wouldn't have considered an iMac in this role....
The real worrying factor is that Apple killed off the xserve with little warning and although OSX server support is still happening, I wouldn't be reliant on it staying in the long run so implementing a non-Mac solution is a sensible idea.

IMHO Windows Server 2008 R2 with a little bit of third-party help (Group Logic ExtremeZ-IP, Centrify DirectControl, Absolute Manage) can take over the role near-seamlessly.

"you may not know anything about the issue, but I bet you reckon something"


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3135 posts

Uber Geek


  # 993397 24-Feb-2014 15:47
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Well you certainly don't want to use USB drives for storage on a server.
You would use something like the Promise Pegasus R4 RAID System that connects via Thuderbolt.
That has a 4TB (4x 1TB) or 8TB (4x2TB) option available.


1990 posts

Uber Geek


  # 1001686 9-Mar-2014 13:50
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Had a customer last week with some of those mini macs. Endless trouble and they apparently have plans to replace them. The machines don't even have an earthed case, and since they are not a useful form factor they just float around on bottom of the cabinet with their hard drives.

Can't you install OSX on standard Intel hardware these days?

Qualified in business, certified in fibre, stuck in copper, have to keep going  ^_^

5136 posts

Uber Geek


  # 1001695 9-Mar-2014 14:23
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webwat: Had a customer last week with some of those mini macs. Endless trouble and they apparently have plans to replace them. The machines don't even have an earthed case, and since they are not a useful form factor they just float around on bottom of the cabinet with their hard drives.

Can't you install OSX on standard Intel hardware these days?

nope. not unless you want to break Apples licensing terms.

1539 posts

Uber Geek


  # 1001747 9-Mar-2014 15:30
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If I was you I would be seriously looking at making the switch to a Windows Based servers, If you look at your options for running an OSX server now what are they going to be like in another 2-3 Years.

With a few extra bits of software a windows 2008 / 2012 based server would take over the Xserve very nicely and leave you in a much better position for the future.

332 posts

Ultimate Geek
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  # 1001797 9-Mar-2014 17:57
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The specific Mac Mini with OS X Server version does ship with two 1TB hard drives (5400-rpm) in it. I'm not sure how easy the current design of the Mac Mini is to get into to be able to user-swap those for bigger capacities, although heat may become a problem with faster drives.

The new Mac Pro has basically no internal storage (it uses SSD storage with a current maximum from Apple of 1TB), so with either that or a normal Mac Mini you're looking at plugging in an external drive(s) ... whether that's plugged in via Thunderbolt, or separate network drives. The Mac Pro does have Thunderbolt 2 ports (six of them) for those external drives, while the Mac Mini currently only has Thunderbolt 1.

Really it's a matter of how much you want to spend on the server itself and how much actual speed you think it needs.

The other factor is how urgently it is needed. The Mac Pro may be difficult to get since it's still reportedly still got quite a waiting list. The Mac Mini hasn't been updated since October 2012, so could be due for an update soon (one recent rumour said by the end of February, but that failed to happen) if you can wait.

If the "floating" is a problem, then Sonnet (and probably others) do make rack-mount solutions for the Mac Mini:
X Mac Mini Server
Rack Mac Mini

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1016 posts

Uber Geek


  # 1001804 9-Mar-2014 18:10
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I haven't done any server work on a mac for years, so my suggestion may be silly
I'd suggest getting a good quality NAS (a 4 bay Qnap/Synology/Drobo FS), setup RAID5/6/10 depending on how much protection/speed you want, then move the user data over to that.
You could then dedicate a Mac Mini to the open directory server. You'd have to do some research but I imagine most good NASes can talk open directory so the permissions etc should go across OK.

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