Build your own (white box) or purchase an industry-branded solution for implementation of appliances – that is the question. Even today, this question continues to plague many customers as well as divide OEM businesses. Depending on the equipment (components or solutions) OEMs are quick to argue their case as to why white boxes are better than a branded solution or vice versa. However each solution has its place in the market. And, for the smart OEM, maybe the choice doesn’t have to be one or the other.
White Box. Companies looking to build a solution that solves a problem in a very unique way – usually faster application performance – typically includes a specific hardware element in their solution. As a result, they are at the forefront of technology and innovation and require newer and faster components that deliver a superior, combined software and hardware solution.
Choosing an industry-standard solution is almost out of the question since they have designed their own computing or processing architecture while leveraging some kind of real-time operating system. Time is of the essence and building a very specific purpose-built piece of equipment, such as a specialized card that they put in a system to leverage some aspect of the x86 architecture, is the only way to speed their time to market.
Branded Solution. It’s no secret that many software vendors are moving to a branded appliance platform as it can more easily solve a set of problems for those vendors that in the past have deployed solutions on a white box platform. Customers deploying branded equipment typically don’t need the state of the art or bleeding edge technology to offer a great solution. All that they require is a solid technology with robust options that they can take advantage of.
Industry-branded solutions enable companies to quickly go to market on brand name hardware. The hardware provider includes its own engineering and global field support and has gone through a number of certification and qualification processes that meet the requirements of individual customers. But the downside that OEMs can face is if they for some reason need to tweak the standard configuration of the hardware vendor’s branded solution, they can potentially break – and void – the hardware vendor’s warranty or support contracts.
The challenge that some suppliers like Bell Micro face is how to compete against branded solutions when their legacy is delivering white box solutions. Though Bell Micro continues to have success with customers who use white box solutions, it finds that it is competing more frequently against players like Dell. As a result, only offering white boxes is a huge obstacle when a customer needs or wants an industry branded solution.
But the face of Bell Micro is changing. What DCIG sees Bell Micro doing is redefining itself through its OEM relationships with partners such as HP in a way that is truly unique in the market place. Bell Micro is expanding its set of solutions to include both white box and branded solutions so it can provide customers a real choice that makes sense for their particular solution while eliminating some of the downsides that using branded solutions typically present.
If a customer wants the benefits of a branded solution so they can take advantage of global service, standardization, and certification, Bell Micro can help provide an industry branded solution from HP without compromising on application requirements. What makes obtaining an HP-branded offering from Bell Micro unique is that OEMs can work with Bell Micro to develop the branded HP solution to meet their specific application requirement without voiding the standard HP warranty or support. Conversely, if the customer wants complete control over the configuration and a stable configuration with a really long life, Bell Micro can help get that customer into an appropriate white box solution.
The point is that Bell Micro supports both solutions in a unique way. Bell enables OEM customers to integrate third-party components into HP servers and still retain the warranties and support agreements. This now gives OEMs a single supplier to call whether they want to pursue the white box option where Bell Micro is the industry leader in these solutions or a branded solution that meets their specific needs without voiding the hardware warranty or both.
To educate OEMs about this new offering, Bell Micro’s strategy is to talk to customers, let them know they now offer a complete range of solutions and then help them step through the business drivers that will help them make a decision between a white box or appliance solution.
Acting as a trusted advisor, Bell Micro understands that there are customers with different needs in different product lines. Now due to its new and enhanced relationship with HP, Bell Micro can help deliver solutions that meet either of their customers’ needs. In this role, Bell Micro can leverage either approach to address their customers’ needs if and when your needs change (such as when the next version of a product is released) so that they can still leverage Bell Micro without having to change their supply chain just because their choice of architecture changes.