Fault tolerance

Locally assembled servers seem to be on the rise. Intel is keen to help the market into white box servers, and several assemblers have taken up the challenge.

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By  Mark Sutton Published  April 12, 2002

Locally assembled servers seem to be on the rise. Intel is keen to help the market into white box servers, and several assemblers have taken up the challenge.

The needs of the small business can no longer be met just by a couple of PCs, so now it seems that it is time for the systems integrators to step up to building servers.

Of course, building a server is a very different matter to building a PC. It takes a lot more expertise, consideration of redundancy, failover, scalability, and compatability with more complicated software. But the vendors are offering help with these issues, and by moving into the server market, the systems integrator can also take a step into the services market.

It may be a more involved undertaking but these small business customers aren’t interested in buying a brand, they are after a solution that works, and a provider that they can trust. Okay, selling actual service contracts might be difficult, given the reluctance of the market to pay for service, but meet their needs once, and they will keep coming back for more.

Another area of white boxes that is growing is the notebook. There are some barebone offerings coming through here, but in the US white box notebooks are becoming a much greater part of the white box business.

However, the considerations with notebooks are different to servers, and systems integrators should be wary. For one thing, most notebooks are sold on a ‘wow’ factor of innovative technology, that it is hard to replicate outside of a big brand. Secondly, notebook purchases are still often a personal decision, and while value is important, the end user is going to think long and hard before going for a brand he hasn’t heard of, and personal customers aren’t as good as business ones.

This is especially important when you consider how delicate many notebooks seem to be—one little fault can write off a whole unit. Many business people will tell you they can’t live without their notebooks, but they don’t have the same business critical functions as a server. Sell a business a server, and if it goes wrong, repairing it will be part of building a relationship with the customer.

Sell an individual a notebook, and it is a one time sale—if they drop it and break it, they’ll blame it on you—and expect a refund. Whitebox notebook builders beware!

You may have noticed that for the past few week eCRN has carried a request to renew subscriptions for CRN—that is the monthly print magazine—not this email newsletter.

Well, it seems that not enough of you have got online and done this. Just to reiterate, you must renew your details this month to continue getting CRN. The March 2002 issue should be on its way to subscribers now, but if you haven’t renewed your details yet, it is going to be the last copy you get.

Unfortunately it is a requirement of our circulation audit company, who provide official independent figures on readership, that we update our data every three years; and with the high turnover of staff in the region, it makes sense to keep our records as up to date as possible.

This means that the magazine goes straight to the people who want it, instead of getting lost in the internal mail or clogging up the in trays of people that don’t want to read it. It shouldn’t be too much of an inconvenience, as it only takes a minute or two to refresh details, and we would really appreciate it if you as subscribers could take the time to do it.

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