I've been working with DIY whitebox workstations and servers for decades. I started out in retail PC sales at a small mom & pop shop before the big box stores came along and destroyed that model for the most part. I've had GREAT reliability from DIY machines during that period. I'd say most of my DIY machines outlast their functional usefulness. Becoming obsolete is what kills these old machines. Along the way, those machines often offer an upgrade path, where I've had DIY machines that have morphed slowly into complete new machines over the period of years, ugprading component by component taking a machine from one state, through an intermediate state, to a final state, before the technology changes so much in some fundamental way that all the equipment reaches a logical End of Life.
During that time, I've also seen some rampant industry problems cause outrageous failure rates. The Taiwanese Capacitor Plague is probably one of those defining moments in any IT professional's career who has been in the industry for awhile. In the DIY market it was mostly low end components that had the highest failure rates related to fautly capacitor electrolyte. In particular, AMD systems seemed to be real prone to losing IDE channels when busted caps leaked fluid and shorted out contacts. I saw this issue frequently, and consistently on AMD systems with VIA chipsets. I don't think it was AMD's fault, or Via's fault. I think that AMD and VIA tended to end up on budget DIY motherboards and DIY budget motherboards tended to use lower quality components, and thus the less expensive taiwanese caps with faulty electrolyte. A high quality Intel P4 motherboard of the era, though, was likely to have higher quality components, including japanese caps with the correct formula.
But - here is an interesting observation. Among Dell systems, I saw huge numbers of failures of Corporate and personal desktop PCs that were all clearly traced back to cap failure. But you know what, I just recently retired a Dell high end (dual P3/700) workstation from that era, and I've never lost a Dell *server* that I can think of that can be attributed back to failed caps. And I've worked with a boatload of Dell servers during the last 15 years.
I agree with you, in the larger scope, simply because vendor consolidation makes sense for any kind of organization with any sort of scale. If you're not of that basic scale, you're not really on my professional radar. I know there are a lot of people in the industry out there that make their living at that level - and that the truth of the matter is that if a Dell server costs $2500 they can probably put together a generic white-box DIY server for less than half of that cost, often with better specs. I know that such a DIY machine might give years of reliable use. When you're starving, you take what you can get and you make the best out of it.
But if I had options, I want a name brand and a premium price on my equipment. One that has a top market presence if possible. Really, of the enterprise class server vendors, Dell is basically the DIY white-box vendor in this segment, too. Far cheaper than the competition, and it shows in so many ways.
This is, not surprisingly, one of my arguments on why you put a legitimate commercial OS on your business grade equipment, as well. The logic for one extrapolates well to the other.
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