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Apple Xserve storage benefits and functionality

Apple Xserve combines hardware and software for a storage offering worthy of consideration by just about any end customer. Get an overview of Xserve's components and functionality in part one of this three-part series.

Apple Xserve combines the fabled Mac ease of use with the latest in hardware technology blended into a storage solution that your end customers will find attractive.

The Xserve 1U hardware platform uses:

  • Two 64-bit Xeon quad-core processors
  • Up to 2.25 terabytes (TB) of storage (using three 750 gigabyte (GB) SATA drive modules)
  • Two eight-lane PCI Express slots
  • Dual-onboard Gigabit Ethernet (GigE)
  • A "combo" drive for DVD-ROM and CD-RW, which can be upgraded to the SuperDrive that handles DVD-R or CD-RW
  • It also has internal ATI Radeon X1300 PCI Express graphics included with a mini-DVI output with VGA support, as well as dual-redundant power supplies. The mini-DVI output can be configured to drive an external display without having to use an expansion slot.

    Apple Xserve storage series
    Part 1: Apple Xserve storage benefits and functionality

    Part 2: Apple Xsan for high-speed storage access on Mac OS X

    Part 3: Apple Xserve RAID for new storage installations

    For routine communications, there are dual FireWire (IEEE-1394) 800 ports, one FireWire 400 port, two USB 2.0 ports and a standard DB-9 serial port that can be used for direct-command-line login, if network services are lost.

    The server software is similarly full featured, based on BSD sockets and TCP/IP stacks. The multilink and multihoming architectures enable you to host multiple IP addresses on the same or several network interfaces, so it's no problem to host multiple Web sites (each with its own IP address). IP over FireWire connections can also be made for point-to-point networks between two devices, which may be useful in IP failover scenarios.

    The server's implementation of IEEE 802.3ad allows for link aggregation. Multiple network interfaces can appear as a single interface with the same IP, MAC and host names. You could boost I/O performance with this by bonding together network interface cards for more bandwidth.

    Ethernet network authentications through 802.1X methods are also supported. Differing methods such as tokens, smart cards and SSL certificates (X.509) can be used through the Extensive Authentication Protocol (EAP).

    File permissions are handled through access control lists (ACLs) along with Unix file permissions. Whereas standard Unix allows you to assign one access privilege to a file owner, one to a group and one to everyone, using ACLs allows you to assign varying permissions to multiple users and groups -- including groups within groups. Each file object can also be assigned both allow and deny permissions, and a granular set of permissions for administrative control, read, write and delete operations.

    For added security, Mac OS X Server supports a file permission inheritance model, which means that user permissions are inherited when files are moved to the server and rewritten when files are copied to the server. This system cuts down the amount of manual bit-twiddling you must do when setting up a customer -- saving you considerable time.

    OS X server uses open standards for directories, including OpenLDAP and the RFC 2307 schema. The Open Directory architecture comes with directory access modules for various popular directory services solutions. It also allows for customized schema mappings, so attributes in an LDAP-based directory can be mapped to settings on the Mac and thus eliminate the need to configure each client system by hand.

    In short, Xserve is a hardware and software solution deserving of consideration regardless of the network in which it may be used.

    About the author: Larry Loeb has been online since the world revolved around {!decvax}. He's been in many of last century's dead tree magazines about computers, having been a consulting editor to the late, lamented BYTE magazine, among other things. You can reach him at larryloeb@larryloeb.com.

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