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The Stack Archive

Dedicated Tier 3 Mac Pro data centre breaks the ‘austerity hosting’ trend

Tue 18 Nov 2014

As most of the ever-consolidating cloud and server market races to the bottom of the price-point wars, Atlanta-based server company MacStadium is adopting Apple’s own consumer philosophy of ‘worth the extra’ by providing data centre services entirely based on a gargantuan array of Cupertino’s priciest desktop offering – the Mac Pro.

The new set-up consists of 160 Mac Pros, the columnar design of which is partially due to the nature of the extruded aluminium single-piece heat-sink which supports the machine’s cooling fan. Like most Mac hardware (with the exception of the budget-friendly new Mac Mini), you can have plenty of fries with that – and caviar, if your wallet can stand it – MacStadium is one of the few colocation services which casually drops the latest version of Mac OSX into its options menus at order time.

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In a confidential business environment, it’s hard to say where this eccentric and expensive investment is aimed in the market-place (the Mac Pro retails for an average of £3,000-4,000 dollars in the U.S. and a predictably non-equivalent £2,500 to £3,300 in the UK), if not at iOs developers struggling to find OSX-friendly virtual environments and colocation in a climate where Apple still refuses to let consumer-level users virtualise an Apple OS.

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Cult of Mac spoke to Chris Chapman, CTO of the OSX-enabled IaaS provider Virtual Command, who sees a case for preaching beyond the converted: “If [MacStadium] can get people on the platform it makes sense,” said Chapman. “especially in small businesses where they tend to throw a Windows server in the closet, forget about it and then get infected […] You can now have a hosted Mac platform that can keep you out of that.”

The business opportunity primarily arises out of the prohibitive cost of owning Apple’s highest-end hardware, which can run iOs development in virtual-on-virtual environments at 20x the speed of device builds.

Greg McGraw, CEO of MacStadium, commented on the company’s work to date on colocation services involving the Mac Mini: “We had great success with the Mac mini and we’ll continue to use it, but the Mac Pro is an enterprise-class data center appliance. It’s going to open up a whole new market.”

The Mac Pro farm’s contractless offering is backed up with VMWare’s VMSphere Hypervisor, Netapp San storage, load balancing and limitless virtual machines, and the ability to run different OSes ad hoc as necessary. Firewall and VPN security is on offer, as are Cisco ASA Adaptive Security Appliances and PING/SNMP-based 24 hour proactive monitoring and recovery.

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