Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Does Apple Hate Your IT Dept.?

IT admins mourn Xserve's death: "What is the point? Every time we get them inside the corporate IT culture they pull this crap," [Jason] said with obvious exasperation. "It gets to a point where, you know what? Enough's enough. They obviously don't want to be there."

Apple's decision to kill their server line leaves me with mixed feelings. There is one in our organization. Do I support it? Nope. That support is outsourced. Yee haw!

Why we have one is one of the reasons why I hate Apple (and Mac's in particular). Like many companies, our marketing dept. loves the Mac for graphic design. And as any collaborative group does, they needed a place to store their files centrally, where they can be shared and are backed up. We were accomplishing this need with Windows server with the Apple File Sharing add-on available from Microsoft. Worked great.

Except for....

One thing that is different about a Mac from a Windows PC, is how it associates programs to files. If you save a file without the .txt or .doc or .psd extensions that we Windows folks are familiar with, the Mac will create an icon file that associates the file to the program that can open it. Again, works great.

Except for...

Every night we would backup the server. During the backup the backup software modified the last read time of the icon file and cleared the archive bit. Next day, the icon file association wouldn't work anymore, and the users couldn't open the file directly. Much screaming and wailing resulted.

After much back and forth, to deal with this problem we bought a hugely expensive Apple Mac server with its own 1 TB SAN and backup system (for the same price I was able to implement a 4 HP server solution running VMWare with 15 TB of SAN storage for our none-Mac systems.)

That solved all of our problems.

So, now I'm faced with the situation where if the Mac server dies, and no suitable replacement is available, I will have to host the files on my servers again.

Like I said, I have mixed feelings about this.

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