Apple’s business customers do not appear amused at the company’s exit from the enterprise storage space, but it was the quiet way that the company dumped the Xserve RAID product from their lineup that really irked. “XRAID” customers were left wondering whether they made the right choice, and if the company’s support for the defunct storage array might dry up, too.
Apple pulled the plug in typical fashion on February 19, closing the online Apple store down and reopening without an announcement. Users were greeted by cheaper and expanded iPod Shuffles and a new rev of the Xsan SAN filesystem product. It was quickly noted that the latter now supported third-party Fibre Channel storage arrays, but little mention was made of Apple’s own FC array product, the Xserve RAID.
It turns out that there was a reason for the oversight. Visitors to the former home of the product on Apple’s web site were greeted instead with a splash page pointing them to Promise Technology’s VTrak E-Class array, and all documentation for Xsan 2 prominently features the Promise array. Users fumed, bloggers blogged, and Apple said nothing about the demise of their product.
Gizmodo finally teased something like an official statement from Apple later in the day. Apple’s Anuj Nayar admitted that the product was no more, and claimed the company would still sell drive modules “while supplies last.” SearchStorage.com got a much more official-sounding answer, but it remains the same: Xserve RAID is gone.
Users were having none of this. Although the Xserve RAID was outdated, with PATA disks and 2 Gb Fibre Channel, most expected a refresh. And they voiced exasperation with Apple’s quiet retirement and less-than-strong statements of continuing support for existing customers. A few users suggested stocking up on spares, while others defended Apple’s cutting off of a “non-core” product line.
At the end of the day, it does seem to be in Apple’s best interest to allow third parties to handle RAID array development and sales, as TidBITS points out. But it would have been a wiser choice to handle their often fanatical customers with more concern and forthrightness. At the very least, the company should issue a statement about the demise of the product and their continued support for existing customers.