On White Box Computers

TechRepublic recently ran an article "Why consultants should not sell generic PCs and servers", which my "shame company" (the regret on my resume - my first job out of the Marine Corps) desperately needs to read.

For years, they've been selling 'white box' servers by Seneca Data to their clients. The main reason was that the owner was on Seneca Data's Board of Advisors. (He apparently never advised them to "stop selling us shit", "stop being stupid about fixing the broken shit you send us", and later "stop charging more than retail to your business partner.") It used to be that we would get a moderate discount for buying things from them (5-10% usually) versus buying from that paragon of deals , Staples. But at one point, Seneca Data determined that we were no longer spending sufficient money with them to warrant discounts, so they started quoting us about 10+% over Staples or Best Buy prices for things like laserjet printers. The servers that they sold were technically cheaper for equivalent specs, however they left out little things like redundant power supplies and hot-swappable hard drives and power supplies, which are little things that come included on all but the most bottom-line of name-brand servers.

They also left out little things like compatible drivers, crash-free machines (upon delivery), and firmware that didn't run the fans at full speed for the entire time the server was on. Without exaggerating I can say that that particular incident, the server was louder than my phone's ring, and the department supervisor dismissed it as "not that bad", then retreated to his office on the other side of a partition wall and closed his office door.

Then, good luck getting somebody useful on the phone - support and the personal touch are supposed benefits from using a local company. I got a lot more of the personal touch (but I wished they'd consider using lube once in a while) than I did actual Support. It took a ridiculous amount of time to get anything fixed through them.

Don't get me wrong; working at EXEControl wasn't all bad. Just most of it. I learned plenty of valuable lessons there, but sadly they were mostly anti-patterns.

(This, by no means is a complete account of everything that is wrong at that company. I'm honestly surprised that they still exist. But let us say that companies don't publish their newsletter when they don't have anything good to say...)


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