Leadership

Look for more white box clones in corporate IT


Just when Microsoft thought it was safe to ship another OS, relying on major manufacturers to seed the market, comes today's U. S. Supreme Court decision that manufacturers can mandate minimum prices at retail. The consequence will open up room for new manufacturers and hurt Microsoft.

Freedom from fixed pricing was established in 1911 as part of federal anti-trust reforms. In the dawn of the PC industry, when pioneers Kaypro and Osborne were creating desktop computing, that freedom of dealers to set their own prices was a fact of life. Had IBM and Compaq been able to fix retail pricing on the PC when they entered the market, fewer dealers would have been able to carry those machines, and the rush to dominance by major manufacturers would have been slowed.

What does this turnabout mean to the IT pro? More white box clones in corporate environments, for one. HP won't be able to resist jacking up the prices of desktops, laptops, and servers, and Dell will quickly follow suit. When the downward price pressure is lessened, Apple will raise its prices as well. The door opens for system integrators to regain some of the corporate market, as CIOs find that next year they're getting less computing for the same dollar they did today, but they didn't get any more budget to buy spendier name-brand boxes.

As white box clone dealers gain more business, look for clone part vendors (FIC, Asus, et al.) to spend more in marketing its own machines through smaller dealers. The Microsoft OS sales will slow even further, as white box clone dealers have no loyalty to Redmond and can just as easily assemble a productivity suite based on Open Office and Ubuntu, or AbiWord and PC Linux 2007. Web-based applications grow faster, as without the Windows/Office lockstep combination, there's more room for diversity.

Will your IT department budget more for name-brand machines, are you thinking about white boxes, or is this just a rosy scenario? Join the discussion.

28 comments
K7AAY
K7AAY

Will your IT department budget more for name brand machines, are you thinking about white boxes, or is this just a Rosey Scenario?

JamesRL
JamesRL

Dell, HP, Lenovo don't compete against white boxes in large corporate environments, they compete against each other. Unless they somehow collude, there will continually be a price war among the big corporate PC makers for the market. There will always be pressure on the price point. My company will never go for white boxes. They rely on standard images and loads to reduce the workload for PC techs. James

retro77
retro77

I also like the fact that I can still get XP Pro on my Dell PCs...hope this lasts till at least the end of the year.

HAL 9000
HAL 9000

Till 2009 along with Office 2003 which is the standard desktop for all of my customers. Here at least none of the Big OEM Makers can guarantee this and I don't think that any plan to have XP for this long. I however don't plan on rushing in to Vista and I can have Volume License Stuff available for my customers for even longer. Though naturally the Hardware is going to change. Col

retro77
retro77

Well I acctually like buying Dell PCs. I am working on standardizing our PCs away from the beige boxes and onto Dells. I like the fact that I have a gold image that I lay down on a new PC and it works. Why? Hardware standardization. The beige PCs I am fazing out have all kinds of funky hardware witch makes an gold image a pipe dream. I did however complete an unattended install CD of XP with a few different mobo drivers that works well for about 30% of my beige boxes. I also like calling up my Dell rep and ordering 4 more of the same PC and having it drop shipped to a satelite office. Then I load my gold image and they are up and running.

Larry the Security Guy
Larry the Security Guy

My company's desktop IT staff has neither the training or time to assemble clones. As new machines come in, they receive a generic corporate image and are then given to the employee. I don't see these potential price hikes making a difference in our PC strategy.

richard.wilson
richard.wilson

Most large corporations (enterprise class) including the one I work with already have a corporate IT policy that is renewed yearly or quarterly. When this policy is being "concieved", things such as "name brand", "reliability", and "support" are major issues, along with cost and consistency. I have sat in on many of these budget meetings and have seen the corporate machine in action. Once this policy is finished and agreed to, it is pretty much set in stone. Keep in mind that there are a lot of "computer illiterate" executives making most of the decisions. (you know the type.."i have a Dell at home, let's use Dell") At that point, it is pretty much out of the hands of the IT department as to what machine to buy. In the corporate world, reliability goes a LONG way, and it is the support of the machine that makes the deal. This is in no way saying that every business makes their decisions this way, but, from my experience, most large corporations do. I'm not saying I disagree with anything anyone here is saying, I'm just saying that a lot of times, it is out of our hands what boxes we get to play with. You think I like configuring and troubleshooting Dells? *sigh*

w2ktechman
w2ktechman

A few thoughts here. First, I think that his is a bad thing. I understand why the Supreme Court did it, but, I dis-agree with them about it making competition. This is only good for Large Corporations/Manufacturers. They have the ability to flood the market with the lowest cost items to put competition out completely. Just look to the last couple of shopping seasons at Christmas. Notebooks at Wal-Mart sold for less than $200/new. While I believe that the majority of items will go up in price, and many may be more restricted for 'sale' prices, when a competitor does well enough, markets may be flooded for a short time to reduce or eliminate the competitor.

nentech
nentech

The cost is most important But some of what dell Hp etc make is not worth having

DanLM
DanLM

Customer loyalty for the service they received? I still know shops that would rather use nothing but IBM because of their past good experience with them. No matter what the cost. You get what you pay for. I know that the quality of hardware is such that third parties will be able to jump in and undersell name brands if they jack the price up. But, will they have any type of customer service at all to fall back on? I own a dell, but it's the first one I ever owned. I have always had home built P.C.'s. I just didn't feel like doing it this time. I really don't need the customer support except for warranty issues. But large businesses do and so do less informed errrr tech savvy consumers. I think it depends if the major retail stores(Best Buy, Circuit City, Computer World, WalMart, Sam's Club, ....) are willing to offer these white box machines. Then I think you will see a difference.

HAL 9000
HAL 9000

Some are great others not so great. I can remember spending 45 minutes on the phone to Compaq trying to find out what the default Screen Resolution on a NB was supposed to be. Their solution at the 3 level Support was to return the NB to them and they would fix it not that it really had a problem but just that someone had changed the screen resolution and was no longer happy with the picture. It wasn't one of mine but a workers at one the companies that I do work for and when I changed it down so that the image looked good they complained that everything was too big but when ramped all the way up they couldn't actually read the screen. :D Anyway Compaq quite happily took the unit back and returned it 2 weeks latter after reloading it and leaving it on the default settings which was what I had originally guessed at anyway. The owner was happy but I was anything but happy not only did they trash any Data on the unit but they took 2 weeks to do what should have taken 15 seconds to achieve over the phone. After all it wasn't a difficult question and should have been extremely easy to answer. But instead of just a quick 2 figure listing I spent ages on the phone getting transfered up the ladder and then told to return the unit for repair when there was really nothing wrong with it. When it returned I grabbed the Destruction Manual and wrote the Default Settings on the inside cover where they where easily accessible so that the next time that this person came in with a problem I could fix it in a few minutes and not waste so much time over what should be a none issue. Col

DanLM
DanLM

Ok, your point is made. Even though my experience of working in business's that had some far flung office without on site support. A white box would work. But, again... You were the hired support for this. Which is the point I was trying to make. I concede everyone... ok? ;o) Dan

HAL 9000
HAL 9000

But because I live in AU with vast distances between places I would try to avoid needing to support 300 Workstations spread out over a vast distance. Not that I wouldn't do it but it wouldn't be my first preference. However this would depend on the customers needs and if they where a regular customer or not. There are lots of variables to consider and I'm maybe not the best to ask on this one as I have a bigger Tech Staff here than when I was running IBM in QLD where we supported the entire state. Technically it's possible to do and easy but it wouldn't be my first choice. However saying that I support many earthmover's who have a program that only runs on NT4 and we do quite a lot of On Site Work where these construction areas are. But if there is more than 300 KMS to drive one way I prefer to fly someone there and fly them back. It's just faster and less risk of collisions with the Roos that frequent the place. :D I've supplied greater than 300 units at a time and I've also organized Leases of more than 300 Units at a single time but they have been spread across the local area or are involved in places that need a standard setup across their entire infrastructure where the small offices have local techs or they have spares in place to be pushed into service while the broken machines get returned to head office for repair. These are generally Franchise Places where the terms of the franchise require this from the individuals who buy in. I would have to say [b]It Depends On the Individual Situation[/b] though to be honest here with the distances involved I can drive over 2,000 miles one way and not be out of the state or drive in another direction the same distance and pass through 3 States and one Tettority. But I do try to limit the area that we cover to SE QLD and at a pinch Northern NSW. But we have supplied Computers for major infrastructure projects that cover that distance or greater and haven't had an issue with servicing the hardware to keep it running. One Rail Link that was done here recently I think covered 3,500 miles or Kilometers and we supplied the computer equipment used by the Earthworks contractors which lived On Site in less than Ideal conditions for 3 years without any problems though because of the conditions that these units would be exposed to they where not run of the mill White Boxes and where of a Fan less design. The fact that they kept moving in the site Offices as the track pushed further on made finding them difficult but even that wasn't a real problem as we didn't have one fail. Col

Dumphrey
Dumphrey

to seperate servers from workstations in a corporate world in terms of white box. As an IT manager, I would never buy a whitebox server if I was to be the sole means of support, but whitebox workstations? Dern straight. Takes me 30 min to set up our company software on a computer with windows installed. And even less to re-image it latter. Setting up a server takes a little more time and effort. My opinion may change a few years down the line, but right now, I like the idea of the support "safety net" provided by a reputable company. And if a workstation does go down, any spare workstation on the network will do, all important documents/information are either on the exchange server, the storage/access server, or in the sql database. Servers have to run and be reliable. Restoring a server is time consuming and more tricky thena workstation. Workstations are easily replaced commodities, and easy to configure. "Truthfully, most managers I know care about support and down time" I would rephrase this to say most competent managers...its a fact the price does play a role, but its usually accounting that pushes cost over value, not the IT manager. But any good manager will consider the value of the purchase, and not just assume greater cost equals better product.

DanLM
DanLM

The point you made was you supported 2500 desktops in one location. One of my posts addressed 300 desktops spread out over a 3 state region. Would you take on a contract like that which covered such a wide area of coverage? Would other private contractors? Would you expect a company to hire multiple private contractors to support something like that or would you expect the cheaper, more reliable route to be leasing? In my eyes, I would do the leasing. But, that is only me. And I give on the white box builds. I've never done it, so I was way out of line with that one. I was just talking about buying them online. Dan

DanLM
DanLM

If digital would have offered specifics, i wouldn't have taken his position as so arrogant. I will say this about digital though, I've read his comments in other threads. I have to respect his opinions there because he did backup his posts with specifics. He could have taken the time here to do the same. dan

nentech
nentech

I don?t know why some people see the need for these long drawn out arguments When a simple direct question will help them understand the other person?s point of view I will not offer more information than I have to for simple reasons 1. Some people will always be offended, It makes no difference what you say 2. Some people will never understand 3. Some people will see black as white 4. Some people believe their opinion is the only opinion that counts DanLM that opinion is not addressed to you I know you feel the need to take offence So why are they called white boxes most I see are black or silver Haven?t seen any white ones for sometime Anyway I will leave dan to you two He has already made up his mind about me It appears that nothing I can say will change that

HAL 9000
HAL 9000

I sell both Made up systems and White Boxes and I can assure you that to buy the parts to make a decent White Box costs more than to buy the built system. Granted I only use good stuff and not the cheap nasty rubbish that has no business on the corporate desktop or server room and I don't touch the [b]Made For Home Use[/b] parts that are so freely available either. With Desktop systems I have tried to cut down now and try not to support any more than 100 Desktops in any one office because I'm old and tired of constantly running around trying to fix things that are working perfectly and I don't expect my staff to do the same either. Every Server that I've ever built has never failed provided that the stated routine maintenance was followed and the Backup Hot Swappable drives where not messed with. Even on the one occasion where I have had a server fail it was purely down to the company owners son installing games on the business network and bring in his friends to play games after hours. He also installed 2 more SCSI Drives into this server and refused to own up to doing this till I suggested that I take them away with me because they didn't belong in that machine. There was a wholesale value of about 6K involved not sure what he paid for the drives but it would have been much more. The only problem that he introduced was to mes up the OS on the main Drive Array and then replace that Array with the backup drives and then mess them up. Naturally until I found out what had happened no one was willing to tell the truth but the moment that I suggested that I remove the offending drives someone had to come clean and admit what they had done to the file server. But from a mechanical point of view I've never had a unit fail granted PS do die and that is why I use Redundant PS so that they have a backup available till the unit can be replaced and when it comes to Flashing the BIOS I always buy replacement Chips instead of running the risk of taking out a Mission Critical unit. Over a 15 year period that I've had this business running total unprojected down time has equaled 15 minutes over every customer and even then that was a Power Supply Problem that I had no control over namely the mains went out and the Backup system that they had in place wasn't finished so it didn't kick in. Instead of calling in the Backup Power Suppliers they called me in because every UPS in the place was going crazy and they ran out of available power just under 15 minutes before I arrived there and started the main Backup Power Supply. When someone breaks the OS or related software we visit the same day and fix the problem as business isn't in the business of waiting for several days to get something shipped back to them after returning the product for repair or waiting for a large inflexible company to allocate Repair staff the job to come out to fix. But then again it could be that different countries have a different mentality as over here we do not order from Catalogs and hope for the best most people here consider catalog stuff the worst available built to a price rather than quality so they are prepared to pay the extra for what is better more reliable and has a better Backup Service than the Out Of The Box thing that never worked properly to begin with. I've seen HP and Dell sell so called servers with Celeron CPU's in them but because they have a Windows Server Product Installed they are called Servers and are not fit to be called a [b]Home Server[/b] let alone be placed in a corporate environment where they need to keep running as they are underpowered for everything that any one could consider using them for but they are cheap. The only real problem that I've ever had was a Server that was built to order and the specifications where sent to me by the business owners son who was doing CS at the time. It was the biggest pile of CRAP that I've ever touched and I begged the owner not to proceed with this thing as it would fail to meet his needs. Unfortunately he listened to his son who insisted that he could maintain the system and it failed at least once a day and was at best a PIG to work with. After 6 months of this I was pulled aside and asked what I would have put in place and I filled in what I considered he really needed and was given the go ahead immediately with a rush to get it into Service which wasn't how I work as I always burn in for at least 100 Hours before deploying the hardware. This wasn't possible in that case as by that time the company was down several Million $ and I replaced the AMD Server with a Intel Unit that has yet to miss a beat but now it's only been in service for about 3 years so there is still time for it to fail I suppose but it's not failing every day at least once if not more. The only time that anything that I build ever is off line is when it's pulled for routine maintenance like Patch Tuesday or a HDD in an array has gone bad. These things happen and are repaired as soon as they are reported or when we next visit the place whichever comes first. But we have supported up to 2,500 Desktops in one place and have not had a problem with maintaining them even though we didn't supply the units or anything at all we where called in to fix the mess that was setup by the so called professional installers and they where the ones who seemed unconcerned about failures and turned up when they pleased rather than straight away to repair failures that did occur but as they were all Dell's that's what I would expect. The HP effort was to setup cheap rubbish and leave the LAN cables hanging out of walls without any mounting and just walk out with just the Windows OS in place and the ability to e-mail files between workstations. As the same company was supplying the ISP I can only think that they where out to rip as much as possible out of the business they didn't even supply XP Pro but home and insisted than Note Pad was a Word Processor. I supplied the entire place with a Volume License of XP Pro and Office on their existing equipment and then setup the LAN properly so that they didn't run up huge excess use ISP bills every month to just transfer a file 10 feet between workstations. If you want to lease any number of Workstations/Servers from me I do it through a leasing company and I get paid for the equipment that I supply and the companies pay the leasing company for the leased equipment. We try to keep it smaller these days but in the old days we regularly supplied up to 5000 identical White Boxes to a single business so that there was no issues with different hardware across their entire installation. I've bought 5 same model NB's and found at least 2 or more hardware configurations in the same model so now instead of buying NB's I build my own and am sure of a standard hardware install with everything that I supply. Col

nentech
nentech

Your replies have shown arrogance So you will have to rip your own argument apart Your position is not my position You assumed I was talking about cheap managers (your words) When I was talking about managers who have no choice You have refused to get the points that I have made is this your arrogance or stupidity You insist your view is the only view that counts You have assumed more from my posts than I have from yours You replied to me first dumb ass Get a clue and get a life Edit to add this Many brand name PCs are white boxs with the company name stuck on it

DanLM
DanLM

There are already white box's that can be purchased that are cheaper. Why aren't your cheap ass managers buying them now? Companies can already build their own systems cheaper then what it cost's to purchase from major manufactures. Why aren't your cheap ass managers doing that? This change of law makes things no different then what it was before. Some companies do choose the cheaper rout now. The majority don't. What makes you think they will change their position. They want to cut cost's, they will lay off people. Read the newspaper, look at the layoffs. They want to cut costs in hardware, they will put off their purchasers and make do with what they have. If they are that cheap, they won't do anything at all. Dan

DanLM
DanLM

support personnel of their own. His position is cheap managers would cut costs by buying white box's. My position is cheap managers will see larger savings in personnel cut backs then they will see in support contracts. I took his reply to my position as being arrogant. I have no problem dealing with arrogant people. I find it real easy ripping their argument apart, especially his. Dan

w2ktechman
w2ktechman

You both have good points. So let me add that while not all companies (small) would be able to pull off the job properly from Dan's point, but some would be able to. Also, who said that the white boxes needed to be setup from another company? While it is cheaper to lease the equipment in many cases, some companies actually do BUY equipment instead. If their IT staff is able to determine and build the white boxes, it may still be a benefit over a large manufacturer. You both have made good points, but both are incomplete as well.

DanLM
DanLM

And there are lots of companies that do lease their desk tops, they have found it is cheaper to stay current this way. I don't care who builds a pc, white box or otherwise. Hardware dies with regularity. When you have a large number of the appliances on site then you are going to want 24/7 support. Again, you seem to not get the point. Want some more examples? Power supply goes on a server. I want support right now for a replacement. It's my database server. I have a backup server that kicked in as soon as the other one went down so I am up and running for now. But, I am now without a backup server. You better get your support people here right now and fix this. But, white box server support people will take 3 weeks because they are a start up company that just do not have the personnel to be in all the places they need to be. I do not truthfully like most of the large manufactures. But most business's buy/lease from them because of their included support contracts. Name brand does carry weight, you again don't get it. As in software. A lot of business's purchase/lease only one name brand for standardization purpose's. Small to medium size company. Damn, 300 workers. 200 desk tops spread across 3 states. Show me a white box company that can both supply, setup, and support that. This company has chosen to lease, because their managers are to cheap to hire the on site personnel. Your cheap ass managers would rather cut personnel and go with contract support when it comes to cutting costs. Again, you don't have a clue now do you. White box's have a chance in home desk tops, not large business's. They don't stand a chance. Dan

nentech
nentech

Yes I have worked for Managers that cared about the quality of what the company buys Not all managers are like that That is something you seem to have trouble understanding Not all managers have control over the budget they are allowed That is also something you seem to have trouble understanding The support for white boxes is as good if not better than the products of the companies you worship The company?s that can do no wrong in your eyes The company?s that have never had a bad product The support for the hardware/software you buy has nothing to do with the quality of the hardware You also seem to have trouble understanding that as well Do not tell me how to provide support for the machines I look after I would not work for someone who has so much trouble understanding these points

DanLM
DanLM

I have always had the pleasure of working for both CIO's and managers that cared. The following comment of yours shows how little you really know. [i]The cost to the company because a server is down happens because the company was not prepared for that emergency.[/i] Part of the being prepared is to insure you have support for the hardware/software you buy. My point which you can't seem to understand. By your comments I wouldn't allow you to prepare any emergency procedures or allow you to purchase any hardware/software. Your opinions show you do not know or do not care to put forward the arguments for proper support. And the consequence's of not having it. Dan

nentech
nentech

Because of either a reputation or past experience. So, I think you should rethink your position. Not all managers fit in your nice little gross generalization. All the managers I know care about support and down time. The cost to the company because a server is down happens because the company was not prepared for that emergency. I find it best to fix the problem than wait for help while some other company trys to decide what to do. I thank you for your narrow minded view of white boxs.

DanLM
DanLM

Because of either a reputation or past experience. So, I think you should rethink your position. Not all managers fit in your nice little gross generalization. Truthfully, most managers I know care about support and down time. The cost to the company because a server is down and there is no support from that server is greater then the price of the server. That is what managers think. The bottom dollar if the crap hits the fan. Thank you for your narrow minded view of managers. Dan

nentech
nentech

With bad products This discussion is about corporate IT So thanks for sticking to the subject Most corporations have their own IT sections So it will be their problem Brand name isn?t so important Since management don?t care about cost this should make it very easy

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