Apple's server products aren't exactly best sellers, but some clients in education, graphical design and other fields swear by them. Since 1996, Apple has offered the Xserve -- a rack-mounted server. Last October it aired the Mac Mini Server, a Mac Mini with the optical drive swapped for a second hard-drive. That brought rumors that the Xserve's days might be numbered.
Those rumors have come true. Apple will cease sales of Xserve in January and has posted an online "Xserve Transition Guide" [PDF] for its customers.
According to the guide:
Apple will honor and support all Xserve system warranties and extended support programs. Apple intends to offer the current shipping 160GB, 1TB, and 2TB Apple Drive Modules for Xserve3 through the end of 2011 or while supplies last. Apple will continue to support Xserve customers with service parts for warranty and out-of-warranty service.
Apple Mac Pro Server
Apple is replacing the Xserve with a new product -- a Mac Pro Server desktop which is definitely not 1U mountable. Available now, the default configuration weighs in at $2,999 USD (the same base price as the discontinued Xserve) and features one quad-core 2.8 GHz Intel Xeon "Nehalem" processor, 8 GB of DDR3 RAM (four 2 GB sticks), two 1 TB hard-drives, an ATI Radeon HD 5770, and a copy of Mac OS X Server, complete with client license.
While $3K USD sounds like a lot for that kind of hardware, it's really not as overpriced as some of Apple's other products -- at least when it comes to products from OEM competitors. While you could probably assemble a server piece-wise for significantly cheaper, Hewlett-Packard's closest competitors are in line with Apple's pricing.
HP offers a 2.4 GHz Xeon (slower), with 3 GB of DDR3 memory (6 GB of DDR3 costs roughly $130 USD), and an NVIDIA Quadro FX580 (slower), and only a single 250 GB hard drive for $2,199. If you add up the cost of upgrading to the various higher end components in new Mac Pro Server, the pricing would likely be in the same ballpark.
Apple is more than happy to offer lots of upgrades that will bump the price though -- a pair of 2.93GHz six-core 'Westmere' chips (+$3,475 USD), 32GB of RAM (+$3,400 USD), a Mac Pro RAID card (+$700) and a quad-channel 4Gb fibre channel PCIe card (+$1,000). Apple does not appear to offer an option to upgrade the graphics card.
It does however the opportunity to have up to four 512 GB solid state drives. The first two will cost you $1,250, and the next two will cost you $1,400, so getting a fully-loaded model would bump the price $5,300. Thus a full loaded (hardware-wise) Mac Pro Server would cost a modest $16,874.