Apple have finally acknowledged that the Xserve is rather overkill for a lot of environments where Apple computers are used. It’s hard to see a 5-person design studio dropping the coin on an Xserve plus all the other associated bits and pieces, when they simply don’t need that kind of power to host shared files.
Enter the Mac mini server. I’ve been using Mac minis as small workgroup servers for quite some time now and whilst it’s not ideal, when looking at cost/benefits it’s a lot more appealing than the Xserve as a file storage unit with proper AFP file sharing. Now with the Mac mini server, Apple have removed the optical drive and installed a second 500GB drive so that you can have mirrored storage in the server. As they are only 5400 RPM drives, I would still be using external storage for bulk file storage – something like a LaCie 4big Quadra or a Drobo, connected via FireWire 800. As such this makes the inclusion of 500GB drives rather pointless as all I’d be using them for is Mac OS X Server, but I can see that there are a lot of environments where previously it would have been a Mac mini or similar low-powered machine running Mac OS X Client and just using personal file sharing. This bundle then gives them all the other stuff you get with Mac OS X Server, such as Wikis, Mail and iCal server, Web hosting and a swag of other benefits.
What is Mac mini with Snow Leopard Server?
Exactly what you’d expect — a Mac mini specifically designed to be a server with Mac OS X Snow Leopard Server preinstalled. Instead of a SuperDrive, there are two 500GB hard drives that give you all the power and storage you need to help your group work more efficiently than ever.