Apart from its cumbersome name, the Mac Mini with Snow Leopard Server has a broad appeal, accommodating power users, enthusiasts and also less accomplished users with a need to configure admin services. Indeed, there really aren't many downsides to it. Obviously, if you want a pumping six-core powerhouse or an internal RAID5 array, this isn't the box for you. Nor is it if you have absolutely no Mac experience at all – but thanks to Apple's best-of-breed GUI admin tools, you don't need to be a Mac guru to run a Mac server successfully.
Snow Leopard Server features unlimited client licenses
Allowing for the fact that it's a full 64-bit machine with a terabyte of storage and can take 8GB of RAM, there is no other machine in the world to compare with the minuscule size, noise and power drain of the Mac Mini server. It's smaller and quieter than most two-drive NAS boxes, and if you daisy-chained a few external Firewire drives onto it, it would rival the four- and five-bay NAS devices, too. It's discreet, elegant, amazingly versatile and you'll never need to buy a client access licence again. ®
Thanks to Square Group for the loan of the review sample.
Hmmm, call me a cynic, but....
This is hardly a replacement for an xserve though (http://www.theregister.co.uk/2010/11/08/apple_xserve_server_dead/).
Unless you build resiliency into the software stack (i.e. buy multiple servers), I don't see redundant nics, PSU or disks, let alone having a pretty weak cpu.
As a soho server for less than a dozen users, I can see a niche. For anything business critical, Apple have left many customers in trouble. Time to move to Windows or Linux on a Dell/HP/IBM box or similar.
The Mac mini makes a great workgroup server
We're using a Mac mini (earlier model) running OS X Server as our office server. It handles file sharing, user authentication, internal/cache DNS, calendar sharing, instant messaging, email, web proxying, intranet and wiki. Does a great job and I would thoroughly recommend this solution.
Its worth mentioning
that Server Admin, Workgroup Manager and a bunch of other apps in the suite can be installed on your desktop Mac and used to control instances of Snow Leopard Server from afar.
You have no clue what you are on about at all have you.
No health monitoring nor reporting - yup right there built into the server tools including alerting
No remote monitoring - wrong again build into the offering
Warning about pending hardware failure or redundant - sure you have got a point there but if you require that of each server than you are talking about several factors price category difference. No point comparing against such a small price item.
Management interface - sure others do get close but until you've actually used it you just have no idea how well everything works together and besides those openspurce components there are also a number of other services not available elsewhere. If you are happy tinkering, sure build it all yourself. Some people want to get on with their business
Daisy chain FireWire - I agree that seems daft, mine just uses iscsi volumes on my San. Nice flexible storage solution. I just have two cables out the back one for power and one for Ethernet. Granted. Second Ethernet cable would be nice but as a workgroup server that just doesn't matter.
Now the best bit for me is that it is silent and only uses 9.44w at idle and I've never recorded more than 18w under load. That combined with the San running on fan less d510 motherboards with 8 disks it is a very low power silent high solution.
Small Office / Home Office
If I'm a mac user, I'll use OSX server for the same reason windows desktop users tend to install windows servers - its what I know, and what I know, I can administer and that makes it cheap. Linux or windows suddenly becomes less cheap if I need to hire someone at £25k/year to administer it, or if I need to take time off income-generation to learn it.
In a soho environment, I don't have space for a 19" rack, I don't have dual power feeds and my connectivity requirements (vpn, calendar sync, time-machine etc) exceed my data capacity requirements. I also don't want server noise in my little office.
A small market perhaps, but it is still there.