Inside a Huge Data Center Filled with Apple Mac Computers

Inside a Huge Data Center Filled with Apple Mac Computers

…or rack thousands of them [Mac mini] together
like MacStadium, a company that has nearly 8,000 Mac minis! *ahem* ♫ Howdy there folks, I’m Quinn of Snazzy Labs
and this is the beautiful Las Vegas, Nevada as you can tell from the cliché sign! And no… I didn’t want to wait in line to stand/film
in front. This is episode 1 of my new series (which
I’ve been working on for quite a while): “I Made This!” We visit people and companies that do things
which are very much against the norm. Let’s go visit MacStadium. ♫ When you think of networking companies and
server rooms, you think of big towers with big black boxes with cables running back and
forth and lots of heat! Well… there’s lots of heat in here. But what you don’t think of is walls and walls
of… silver Mac minis?! Yeah! Quinn (Q): We’re here at MacStadium. I’m with Brian, he’s the Vice President, and
“what is it that you guys do?” Brian (B): So basically, we do Mac infrastructure
as a service. So somebody needs Macs in a data center? Instead of trying to figure it out themselves,
they tell us what they need (and how many), we stick ’em in. Q: That’s awesome! So how long has MacStadium been around? B: MacStadium started in 2013, actually in
Atlanta. And now we’re in Vegas and we’re all over
the world now, but it’s grown a lot in the last five years. Q: There aren’t many companies that do what
you do. B: No, there’s none that do it to this scale
and this type. I mean, we’ve tried to become the experts
on Mac hosting and make sure we’re the place to come, but uh, you know, Macs have been
used in the data center for a long time, but not to this scale. And now that developers need it more and more,
the demand is bigger than ever. So it turned out good in that sense. Q: That’s awesome. So, you’re running Mac minis, you’ve got Mac
Pros, you’ve got a few iMac Pros, and… B: And some Xserves! Q: And some Xserves?! There are remnants! They’re still alive! Q: So these racks, people don’t make these
racks, right? B: No, absolutely not. These are totally custom-made, patented racks. We just try to get as many Macs per square
foot as possible, and since Macs have such low power and low heat, we can really get
’em in there tight and not damage them at all. So we built these [racks] to make sure that,
they, yeah, they don’t sell these anywhere. Q: That’s awesome. So I have seen in the floors that there are
vents with air conditioning and cooling to keep things running cool, but these Mac minis
are just out in the open. B: Yeah! Q: And that’s not an issue, eh? B: Yeah, if you have a Mac mini on your computer
desk at home, you know it doesn’t really heat up—doesn’t get real loud—so the natural
circulation works good here. Mac Pros and the Xserves obviously, we try
to direct the heat still, but the Mac minis, wide open is fine. Q: So let’s talk about Mac Pro, because Mac
Pro, the current models, were released in 2013. They’re starting to show their age. And you just told me you’re putting in… 600 soon? B: Hopefully, yeah, we’ve done probably 400
in the last couple months, and there should be another 800-1,000 in the next few months. Uh, yeah, people wonder who is buying all
the Mac Pros… Q: It’s you guys! B: We’re buying all the Mac Pros.
*giggles maniacally* Q: So let’s take a look around, shall we? B: Okay, you bet. Q: Alright, so we are in an air conditioned
tunnel (cold aisle) of Mac Pros. And, why are these rooms colder than the Mac
minis? B:So, with the Mac Pros, as you know, the
heat comes in one side, and the [hot] air goes out the other, so we have them all pointed
a certain direction. So the air conditioning comes out of the floor,
through the Mac Pro, and shoots out on the other side. It’s the cold aisle of Mac Pros. Q: And Mac Pros are “workstation” hardware,
right? So do you find that they run a little more
reliably, so to speak, than the Mac mini? B: Yeah, you know, it’s like a deal of 0.01%
repairs and 0.001% repairs. I mean, they all run so reliably. But the Mac Pros, yeah, I mean they are beefier
parts, and they’re a little more expensive to repair when they do break, but either way,
we’re not repairing too much around here. Q: That’s awesome (I’ve said this like 4 times
already wow). And what’s surprising to me is that the majority
of these don’t actually have internal storage. B: Right! We put in a SAN (storage area network), and
then all Mac Pros are empty and they’re all booting the VMs from [the SAN]. And that way, customers when they need to
spin up a VM, they’re all coming from the same place, the data store is there for all
the Mac Pros, and then when they need more, they say: “we need 100 more Mac Pros,” we
don’t need to [modify] the storage—we just stick them into their existing data store
and they’re off and running. Q: And these [Mac Pros] only have Gigabit
networking, right? So, do you have Thunderbolt 2 that carries
the data connection and the storage—or… how is that all set up? B: Yeah, so what we did… we tried to make
them ready for the data center since they’re not built for that. And so you have the Gigabit, but we also use
Thunderbolt 2 to fiber channel to the SAN and we try to give it as many connections
as possible. Even then, you know, there’s only one input
of power, so what we do is we use A/B power elsewhere that runs to the Mac Pro so that
it still has redundant power. It took some real… I tell people we actually put the round peg
in the square hole (this is a reference to a famous Steve Jobs just in case you wanted
some mid-video trivia) and part of that was getting it ready for power and connections
and everything. Q: Yeah, because these are NOT made for a
server environment. B: Definitely not. A lot of people get really confused when they
walk by here trying to figure out what they are. Q: So that X70 (SAN) is running 44TB of—not
SATA SSD storage—but NVMe storage. B: Yeah, right. Q: That’s not cheap. LOL. B: That is not cheap. That is definitely not cheap. Q: And so the controllers that you have to
connect the Mac Pros to those devices for storage or networking… are those something
off the shelf? B: No, that’s completely in-house. What we did was… I mean, we patented the whole rack because
it’s so unique and we own the patent on it, but it’s not only how to slide it in and store
it, but also, you know, connect them. And we build them ourselves in-house and we
put them [the IO boxes] on the back of them [the Macs], and that’s what makes it different. Q: That’s awesome (if I say that one more
time… ugh). So we’ve got the Mac Pros here, but what you
can’t see in the back but you’ll see now is you’ve got iMac Pros too. Now, you don’t have a lot of them, but you’ve
got a few. B: Yeah, because… so, the Mac Pros are VMware
approved. So you can run ESXi on them, and you can use
them that way. But the iMac Pros and the Mac minis are not
[approved for VMware]. And so, we use what’s called Anka, and that’s
not VMware-based, but its for VMs also, and we… that’s how we make the first Mac mini
cloud, but it’s also what we use on the iMac Pros cause so far they haven’t been approved
by VMware to run VMware. So, when you need super high counts of cores
and RAM and everything, we’ll use an iMac Pro. And like I said, only a couple of customers
right now [using iMac Pro]. And of course, we get all kinds of heat [from
people] because those iMac Pros have those beautiful 5K screens and we smack them together
so that we can’t see what people are doing and maybe some days those will be useful,
but right now we’re just using the insides. Q: That’s awesome (seriously, Quinn…?). Well thank you Brian so much for your time. It’s pretty incredible what they’re doing
here. Where can customers find you? B: So is the obvious one. We’ve got data centers in Atlanta, Las Vegas,
Silicon Valley, Frankfurt, Germany, Dublin, Ireland, and more to come! So we try to be as close as possible to the
developer as we can. ♫


  1. Post
    Snazzy Labs

    Enable CC if you can't hear everything Fun fact: this data center is so loud that most technicians wear hearing protection while at work. Obviously, that made recording audio very tricky. I used the best equipment I could find for the job, but if you're having a bit of trouble hearing everything, turn on CC. I did them by hand so that those of you who are hard of hearing or don't speak English as a first language can still get the most out of this episode!

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    Anthony Paull

    Is there something wrong with virtualisation with OSX? This seems like a terribly inefficient way to do things on almost every front

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    Wow, I am thinking about making a game, and I want to also release it on Macs (or iOS) maybe. The problem is I don't own a mac, I might look into this company if I decide to make an iOS or MacOS release.

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    Raja Sekhara

    packing up a bunch of notebooks with plastic tape and calling it as data center…….. I'm sure aliens do exist.

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    fucken hell…the lengths people have to go through to use mac's in an enterprise environment because apple refuses to make professional level equipment.

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    Kunil Lee

    Definitely it's not for deep learning … unless you can figure out how to drive tf/pytorch with opencl or put cuda card into a mac.

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    shits so loud in there you should have done some establishing shots and stuff but not do the interview in there lol

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    H C

    i have a feeling their customers are predominantly hipster companies, this is really very not a good financial idea for the end customer….macstadium isnt going to tell them that ofcourse…

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    Lain Macauley

    I honestly don't understand why this exists. This is a data center? Why Mac specifically? What are these all used for?

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    If Apple had actually made the racks they could have called it irack but somehow I don’t think they would have gone down well…

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    JC Clark

    Overpriced and underperform stock Linux servers that would be much cheaper and outlast the crapware that Apple produces.

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    Oh wait, so this is the company who is buying apple's overpriced crap. I get it now where the sales come from…

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    100x the cost too I bet. I'm also betting that every time something fails Apple is telling them to buy the new model. lol

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    David Carmichael

    This is fucking stupid. This is the stupidest thing I have ever seen. Whoever buys space on these are stupid. macOS is for the desktop and the trackpad.Using VMWare Linux to run macOS LOL – Useless. WHY?! – IT'S USELESS, get rid of it!

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    I don't really understand this if it is mostly to run VMware then why not just use normal servers and stuff and load apple OS. Or is apple OS STILL tied to some oddball hardware scheme? This type stuff is why i don't like apple.

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    these guys are smart. amazon google and microsoft offer things like aws azure and google cloud. these guys want to get aquired by apple

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    Timothy "The Force" Sparks

    I suppose that all they are doing is supplying storage via VM Fibre Channel. VM HyperVisor is the redundancy in this case. These Mac Pros have the Intel E5 server CPU and can hold a ton of memory. I have a PC/Server machine that has the E5 with 28 cores @1.77Mhz Turbo to 2.5!

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    Mental Inlander

    Just hire chineese tech savy to build Server from used part from Shenzen its gonna be cheaper, who care about security these days.

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    I could replicate that whole data center on my home servers with virtualized hackintoshes.
    If Apple doesn't offer the products nor the support, it's fair use.

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    curlynux ninjaDev

    hit like button if you agree

    their forced to make custom rake's for their mac's and forced to have physically each mac for each OS … apple … can't you just make osx compatible with others computers ? just like windows does ? or open your API's to manufacturer and company's like ASUS, GIGABYTE, HP, DELL etc … and allow them to install macOS on their computers so, with the data you can make a "global" version of macOS that get more "globalish" every time a new model, series, brand access to your API's and make macOS compatible with his computers. then your installer get more and more compatible with others computers. For exemple i'll love to see a DELL XPS 15, ASUS ZEYPHIRUS, GIGABYTE AERO 15, HP OMEN 15 with a N.A.T.I.V.E macOS brand new mojave fresh installed W.I.T.H.O.U.T A.N.Y B.U.G just like a real mac, as smooth as fast like a mac. If mac wasn't close they can build their own PC VERY MUCH CHEAPER and more powerfull than a real apple-mac (yes, the price of a mac can get a PC much more powerfull for the same price) and also build STRONG server and put some badass AMD EPYC processor and godness 128/256/480 GB of RAM and just virtualize mac for each user without having them all phisycally. and apple can take money on each macOS installation, manufacturer or customers/client … SHOW THIS COMMENT TO APPLE

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    This is just …dumb.. …
    The only reason to do this, is because Apple doesn't allow Mac OS on anything other than Apple hardware…..
    Otherwise, you could simple run MacOS on VMware on actual real servers.

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    Cool video, but man their prices are way high ($59/mo and UP – and that's for a LEGACY Mini i5) unless you're corporate and have a spendybudget. (after a bit of googling) Check out macincloud and hostmyapple if you want to test drive/work in a Mac desktop environment in the cloud… Could be pretty useful with nomachine nx.

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    This is why Apple products don't exist in the corporate world. Where I work, we have about 60% Mac users, and 40% for the back end users. They work fine for the most part, but Apple literally are a waste of money.

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    I thought ow, this would be nice for my company I won't have to hear the mac mini noise anymore and I don't have to deal with broken hardware. 350$ a month per mac maxed out mac mini … who the hell uses this, you can buy a fully maxed out mac mini with all of the apple tax on bigger ram and such for 10months of this service.

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    because of this stupid companies Aplle survives on market even they sale totall garbage but probably they bribe CEo-s and other high ranking stuff

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    Buster Jersey

    Thanks…I have nowhere near the number of Macs that Mac Stadium has, but, thanks for this video, I have reconfigured my mac mini and mac pro network to maximize their use. Great configuration at Mac Stadium, but I can develop my apps on my system…thanks for sharing

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    V. Sriram Sundar

    Now there's a rack mount version of the new Mac Pro which is really good for companies that depend on macs.

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    this is stupid and expensive as fuck! Not worth it for anything, you could do this with hackintoshes or virtual machine OSX using real server hardware! All they do is lowering the resell price for second hand macs after years. This is the dislike they deserve!

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    Hassan Saleem

    Holy shit this video was ahead of it's time, (1:57) they even had 2019 Mac pros installed in the floor panels lol

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    what can i say, absolutely rubbish, this is the most annoying and horrible data center I've ever seen in my life.

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    Buster Jersey

    Thanks for this great video that I watched 5 times. I just reconfigured my late 2013 mac pro to boot off of a thunderbolt 2 OWC Drive Dock which allows me to switch operating systems by just switching SSD's . Keep these videos coming. Thanks again

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    braf zachland

    mac mini doesn't use ECC memory or have any enterprise server data intergrity or error checking features thus they are not fucking servers. add to that apple server OS is an industry joke what you have in this video is a novelty project at best

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