Hosting server cluster based on OS X.. Possible?


OK folks,

I have some questions of those of you that are proficient in the OS X server arena and have used it for awhile. Let me start off that i have been in the industry quite awhile, have my MCSE (yah, i know) and have been a trainer administrator, and user of macs since its inception of the grandaddy mac in 1984... Heck i used the apple II, and for those of you who know about it, the venerable apple II clone called the Franklin 1000. I am not looking for zealot-like answers like... MACS RULE!!! But rather, educated answers to my question. The investment i am making is not light. Try about 5 dual proc G4 servers to start. I have extensive experience in the NT world as well, but am a bit new to the BSD Kernel in OS X. Granted i have used OS X since its beta and am becoming more comfortable with the workstation version but I have only seen the Server version and played with it a bit at MacWorld Expo.

I am looking to switch from a multi-server NT platform to a multi-server OS X platform.

First, In your real-world opinion, please be as objective as possible, is OS X Server ready for prime time? can i serve multiple sites recieving millions of hits per month. Most of our sites have an element of dynamic content. We are looking into PHP to replace our current application server platform... unless they bring their's to OS X.

Secondly.... clustering. I know that there are Linux solutions out there like Convolvo but can you point me to any that might support the OS X platform?

RAID.... Does OS X Server support RAID cards. That is, are there vendors releasing their cards with drivers for OS X??

Multiple NICs... How easy/hard is it to configure OS X Server with Multiple NICs.

What real world performance metrics exist or what real world performance experience can you give me that can prove OS X Server as a contender in the server market. Are there theoretical max's out there with an OS X Server running apache?? (connections handled, max out threads, etc.)

I thank you for your patience and time in answering my queries. I am truly excited about building a dream. An application and web hosting solution Solely based on the apple platform that is bulletproof and extremely stable.

Erik Kulvinskas
Hey Vaporboy,

I have setup over 60 something OSX Servers. I can do it in my sleep. I have worked with version 1 and 2. Both of those were good but not great. With OSX Server version 10.0, they have made a great improvment. More features, new interface like Mac OS X client, very stable. I don't think it's the greatest server in the world, but it can do a lot and is one fo the better servers out there. I think that it still needs some work to get it to the prime time level of like a Sun Server, but they have done a great job so far of trying to get it there. The OSX Server does mostly everything that the NT side can do. We have been taking out our NT servers and replacing them with OSX Servers. The OSX Servers have much better cross platform support than NT does.

We have had great luck with our OSX Servers. Very low maintanence to the point we don't even touch them. They just do what they are suposed to do. Plus it is one of the fastest and most powerfull for web serving and has WebObjects for web application services.

As for clustering, it is already built into the OSX both client and server. Apple just has not released and interface to control it yet. But from what I have heard, Apple it touting it as the most powerfull clustering system out there. So we shall see what happens when it's ready for use.

As for the RAID solution, I have not heard about any supporting OSX yet. But OSX 10.1 release will include RAID so that you can RAID any drives that came with your OSX server. So if you can hold our until the release of 10.1, you'll have your RAID solution.

With our servers we got the 4 port NIC plus the server has the built-in NIC. To set up each port is very easy. Plus you can tell it what services you want on certain ports, or you can use the multiple ports to make multiple networks and subnets. It's very easy to do. What's also nice is the built-in firewall in OSX. We use the Firewalk Shareware app to interface with it. We actually use our OSX servers as the gateway, firewall, print server, file server, web server, DHCP server, etc. all in one and it works great. We have better security doing it this way than we ever have before.

So does it do a great job as a server, YES. Does it still need some work, YES. Is it the most perfect server, NO. But Apple is getting there and in time I'm sure it will become the most awesome server out there.


You're in phoenix too eh?? So Apple has the clustering ties available but just the interface is not built to tie it together? Is this something proprietary that Apple is developing? Or are they piggy-backing off of some other technology (i.e. Apache for their web services). Its good to hear that you have put so many servers together without much problem.

As far as what i have read about the RAID system... its software RAID right? What I need is a hardware, card-based RAID system supported by the OS. I've done a lot of NT server building with these solutions and would like to be able to do this with OS X. I realize that I could do something thru a firewire RAID solution but i'd prefer to use a SCSI PCI solution that is tried and true.

Software RAID just won't do.. too much overhead on the OS for the amount of information that is getting read and written to the RAID system.

Yeah I have lived in this desert all my life.

Yeah from what I'm told there is a built-in cluster system. It's just that Apple has to make an interface for it so that it can be used. I'm not sure if it's there own technology or if it's something already created with an Apple twist on it. Whatever it is, it will be great to use it when it's ready.

As for the RAID in 10.1, it is only software based. So you may want to look for a hardware version. I think Adaptec might have some now. I know that they have released some SCSI cards for Mac OS X. I would try there and see if they have anything of a RAID solution.