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Apple's Xsan falls behind schedule

Deadline for storage management software booted into 2005; no specific date or reason given.

Apple Computer said Monday that it will miss the deadline for shipping its Xsan storage management software.

The $999 product, which serves as a file system for storage gear, was scheduled to launch by Monday, the last day of autumn, but has been held back.

"Xsan will not ship this year; it will ship early next year," Apple said in response to an inquiry from CNET News.com. The company would not say what caused the delay.

The product is designed to further Apple's position in the high-end computing market. Xsan allows multiple computers to concurrently access terabytes worth of storage housed on Xserve RAID disks, Apple's rack-mounted storage system.

Although Apple is known for its consumer products, the Cupertino, Calif., company has built an increasing array of enterprise gear, starting with the debut of the Xserve rack-mounted server in 2002.

Collections of Macs are used for a variety of supercomputing tasks, including notably as part of Virginia Tech's System X, which is among the 10 most powerful machines in the world. Apple already offers a program called Xgrid designed to cluster the computing resources of a group of Macs.

Apple announced Xsan in April, at a trade show for broadcasters. The software has been in testing mode ever since.

"Xsan is in beta testing now, and the response to it has been great," Apple said in the statement.

As recently as last month, Apple reiterated that the software would ship in the fall.