The Xserve Platform is Dead.
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Between when it was launched in 2003 and discontinued in 2008, Apple sold more than 50,000 Xserve RAID units. Sadly for many, since they are aesthetically beautiful, the time has or will shortly come when they are no longer capable of the grunt required to power today’s throughput and processor hungry post production workflows.
The very same is happening to PPC and early Intel based Xserves. Out with the old, in with the new.
The re-use opportunity lies in that these are still very reliable, durable units that could be re-purposed within organisations for nearline or archive storage rather than ending up as doorstops (albeit very pretty ones) or fodder for Ebay.
One organisation who decided to take that route is AMV BBDO, no less than the UKs largest advertising agency.
The LAB at AMV BBDO is an Apple based post production facility (read more here about The LAB) that has recently upgraded its XSAN from 1.4 to 2.0, whilst also replacing their trusty, loved Xserve RAIDs with the more powerful (though pugly) RAID subsystems from Promise and introducing the lightening fast Nehalem Xserves into the mix. This much needed upgrade would ordinarily leave 6 Xserve RAIDs and 3 PPC Xserves on the shelf but the guys at The LAB wanted to re-use their kit by using it to add storage capacity to their MatrixStore cluster.
“Our Apple XRAIDs had served us well for 5 years, and when we upgraded our SAN it seemed a shame to consign them to the scrap heap. Redeploying them directly into our MatrixStore made commercial sense, and the process was disarmingly straightforward and uncomplicated.” Alex Buchannan, Tech Manager, The LAB.
Using the Mac OS version of the MatrixStore software an archive cluster node can be created using one Xserve connected to one Xserve RAID (see here for brief explanation).
The spare kit at The LAB allowed them to instantly add 3 Xserves and 3 Xserve RAIDs to their existing MatrixStore cluster providing an 20TB raw storage. The remaining Xserve RAIDs will be added at a later date.
The LAB at AMV BBDO have been an Object Matrix customer since 2006. Once the dust has settled on them, they archive projects from their XSAN into the MatrixStore. From the MatrixStore they quickly retrieve assets on demand. The nature of AMV BBDO’s business means that elements of past adverts (lower thirds etc) may be needed for current or future bids or work. They need data elements to hand but do not want them cluttering up the XSAN.
AMV BBDO have a fully automated, integrated Final Cut Server workflow utilising the MatrixStore plugin for Final Cut Server to archive all assets and selected metadata from a production with a single click (see here for more info).
If you are considering rolling out your Xserve RAIDs and would like to implement a MatrixStore cluster then do get in touch. The current free software license offer to manage up to 15TB of data will only be available for a short period of time, after which a 5TB free license will available.