Goodbye Apple Xserve, Hello ActiveStorage ActiveSAN?
On Jan. 31, 2011, Apple ceased shipping Xserves. Luckily for those users of Xserve technology, ActiveStorage has picked up where Xserve left off (as a metadata controller appliance) with its new ActiveStorage ActiveSAN. The VAR Guy knows not whether Apple provided any direction on the shiny new appliance, but it looks eerily like — and has many of the same features as — its fallen Apple counterpart. Read on for the details.
Apparently, ActiveStorage’s ActiveSAN is a replacement solution for Xserve Xsan installations in both feature list and form-factor. ActiveSAN runs Linux with a GUI that makes it easy to implement and ready to use out of the box, complete with similar features IT admins and VARs who have worked with Apple would be familiar with. When used with the Quantum StorNext SAN file system, (which Apple Xsan is based on), integration is seamless. Active Storage also announced an ActiveSAN training and certification program for certified engineers and system administrators, but declined to give pricing on ActiveSAN.
Over the years more than a few companies have tried to integrate smoothly with Apple products, with varying degrees of success. So what makes ActiveStorage’s so special? For starters, the company is run by former Apple employees, including CEO Alex Grossman.
“A lot of us came from Apple to pursue some other things,” Grossman said, noting that former storage, server and channel team members at Apple are now all part of ActiveStorage. To that end, they have an affinity for Apple and the company is even an Apple Developer Partner.
With Apple discontinuing Xserve, ActiveStorage saw a real need for ActiveSAN, which fills what would otherwise be a big, gaping hole in certain verticals such as media, where massive amounts of video editing occurs. “You have a number of users directly connected to the storage with Xsan to edit video [and] work with content at high speeds — huge customers with hundreds of people,” Grossman said. And because ActiveSAN is nearly turnkey, VARs can just drop it into the data closet. “It’s easier than setting it (Xsan) up on what Apple had before. It’s actually all in one step,” Grossman said.
Educational markets as well as the large marketing departments in major corporations and health care all are good candidates for ActiveSAN, he noted. And, of course, The VAR Guy wants to know how the channel fits into ActiveStorage’s sales model.
“We’re 100 percent channel, no direct sales whatsoever, and we’re 100 percent supportive of the VARs,” he said.
The VAR Guy sees a potential here for a company to feast off the crumbs of a market Apple has abandoned. Normally our resident blogger would be giving Apple a wag of the finger for dropping a technology without an exit strategy beyond “you can buy a MacMini Server or the server-configuration of the MacPro,” but ActiveStorage seems poised to benefit from the Xsan metadata controller need of Xserve, which clearly took a hit from Apple’s actions. If that doesn’t hint at covert support of ActiveStorage’s ActiveSAN, The VAR Guy is stumped to know what does.