I can no longer recommend HP Servers for SMB

April 10th, 2017 at 12:02 AM  No Comments

In the past I have flipped flopped my recommendations for server hardware between Dell and HP.  I have never had any reason to recommend one over the other until now.    I remember a few years ago hearing a bunch of hoopla about HP starting to require a service contract in order to receive firmware updates.  I remember reading a blog post that broke down some of the details at put me a little at ease, so I went along with my business.

John’s post mentioned he thought this could have been a cash grab from service contracts, but HP stated this was not the case.  I would recommend reading his article for all the details, but the gist was they were trying to prevent unscrupulous VAR’s from refurbishing Proliant hardware using their firmware.  I personally think they were trying to prevent 3rd party service companies like Park Place Technologies from selling aftermarket service contracts.  These service contracts are usually much cheaper then OEM, and will likely extend the amount of time a server is in production which means less hardware purchases.

Over the past few years, I have been dealing with mainly Dell PowerEdge devices.  These servers do not have the requirement and make it very easy to update.  Most of these machines can use their built in Lifecycle controller to automatically scan, download and install needed firmware updates.  It is a very easy process, and no support agreement required!  Fast forward to today and I find myself working on a HP Server that I spec’d out and installed for a client over 5 years ago.  With most of his apps moving to the cloud he had no reason to replace this server.  I was checking firmware, and of course with HP’s new policy I can not update the BIOS.  So since HP has killed my ability to download the BIOS update, the machine will be sitting with a BIOS from 2011 until it is replaced.

Moving forward, Dell will be the only company getting my blessing in the SMB space.  The extra cost of a service agreement for a large number of SMB’s doesn’t fit.  Hopefully Dell doesn’t try and follow HP’s lead, but I think if that was the plan it would have happened already.

Tech Field Day 7 is on!

August 11th, 2011 at 5:00 AM  No Comments

Tech Field Day 7 starts this morning and I am excited to get to our first presenter, Solarwinds (they have Tacos!).  After we eat our Tacos and hear about Solarwinds we will move onto Symantec and then to Dell.  You can follow the action on twitter or watch it live, right after the break!


Austin isn’t ready for this!

August 10th, 2011 at 12:49 AM  3 Comments
Photo by Steven Foskett at TFD4

When you have 13 geeks (plus a Foskett, not sure what to classify him as) transcending on a city at the same time there will be shenanigans. This is exactly what is going to happen tomorrow!

I will be joining a great group of tech bloggers at Tech Field Day 7.  It will be two days of amazing information and discussions revolving around data center technologies.  Sponsoring the event will be SolarWinds (@SolarWinds_Inc), Symantec (@Symantec), Veeam (@Veeam) and Dell (@Dell_Storage).  My fellow TFD 7 deleates are below!

Scott Cochran
Theron Conrey
Scott Lowe TechRepublic
Roger Lund vRoger
Frank Owen TechVirtuoso @FOwen
Bob Plankers The Lone Sysadmin @Plankers
W. Curtis Preston Backup Central
Truth in IT
Fabio Rapposelli Juku
P2V It!
Brandon Riley virtual insanity @BrandonJRiley
Reed Robins Truth in IT
Backup Central
Derek Schauland Technically Speaking @WebJunkie
Matt Simmons Standalone Sysadmin @standaloneSA
Matt Vogt Virtualization, Storage, Community @MattVogt

Keep an eye out on Twitter and my fellow blogger/tweeters above for information throughout this great event.  We will also have a live feed posted on the forum tomorrow for anyone who wants to join in.

Disclaimer: Travel and accommodations are being provided by the sponsors of Tech Field Day 7 (which are listed above).  My posts, and my opinions will always be my own.  I am not required to post any material to participate in this event.

Edit: I can’t believe I left Dell out!  Thanks gminks for pointing it out!

Dell OEM Day – Part 2 [The Custom Experience]

January 13th, 2011 at 10:53 AM  2 Comments
This is part two of a multi-part article covering Dell OEM Day, an event for bloggers that Dell hosted on December 14th, 2010.

In my last article about Dell OEM, I talked a bit about their history, how they came to be, and a little bit about how they’ll do just about anything for you. The real question is, what is covered under “anything”?

Well, let’s start with this: Dell OEM, both directly and indirectly, produces custom systems for all types of industries: retail, industrial, power, health care…the list goes on and on. Each of these industries more than likely require a server (or twenty) for their day-to-day operations, but some of them require specialized servers. Servers that you or I actually might use, but aren’t aware that it’s a Dell system hiding in there. I am, of course, talking about completely customized servers.

Lets explain their customized solutions with a simple example:
You’re a Server Administrator in a large company, and it’s been decided that your company will use the Google Search Appliance for all your internal search needs. It’s quite a unique looking rack-mounted server, with it’s hot-rod yellow and bubble bezel. Management likes shiny things, right?

So now that you have Management’s stamp of approval, you contact Google and place the order for the new server.

Time passes and the server has arrived. With glee you open the box and find the nicest looking server around. Except now you have to hide it in a server rack, where nobody will see most of that awesome paint job.

You get everything hooked up and go to configure it, but there’s a problem and it’s not doing what it’s supposed to do. Exhausting all your knowledge and local resources, you call the Google support number and inquire about the technical issue you’re having.

They do their thing, you realize your mistake (d’oh!), and your server is indexing all your data. Success!

What’s the point of this story? You’ve been dealing with Dell nearly this entire time.

When you ordered the server, it was built, boxed, and shipped by Dell OEM.

When you called for support, it was Dell that answered that call.

And that, dear readers, is how Dell can create a completely custom experience for both their clients and end users alike.

Google’s custom experience is likely on the high end of the scale — it’s not likely that most companies would want this level of involvement. From what I saw during my trip, some companies simply go with a branded bezel and shipping box, which still provides the end users of these systems with a nice touch of originality.

In the next article, I’ll be covering a little more on the customization process that Dell OEM can do. Paint jobs and bubble bezels aren’t all they can do!

Dell OEM Day – Part 1 [The Beginning]

January 7th, 2011 at 4:39 PM  4 Comments

Dell Offices

This is part one of a multi-part article covering Dell OEM Day, an event for bloggers that Dell hosted on December 14th, 2010.

When you think Dell, what’s the first thing that comes to mind? For most people it’s desktops or laptops, and rightly so — it’s their core business model, after all.

What if I were to tell you that, inside Dell, there is a group of highly intelligent business people, engineers, researchers, and [name of group that builds computers] that work on systems that you and I take for granted every day? They exist, and they’re the Dell OEM Group.

A month ago I wasn’t even aware this group existed. When I was finally introduced to the fact that Dell has an OEM group, I pictured a department that built and shipped custom servers that fell outside of the normal system that you can assemble on Dell’s website. Well I was party right, but what I learned while visiting Dell gave me a whole new perspective on the company.

First, a little history: Around 1999, Dell was approached by a company asking for a server that would connect a proprietary network to a point of sale system. They didn’t want to pick out all the parts for the server like you would do in a normal Dell build, they just wanted something that worked. Obviously this request fell outside of their normal build orders, as it would have to be a completely custom system tailored to their request and the requirements needed in order to connect the two systems the box was to be designed for. The job was done, and was likely the seed that would go on to spawn the “Industry Solutions” group, which Dell renamed to “Dell OEM” only a few short years ago.

From that first job back in 1999 spawned a department that now pulls in over a billion dollars yearly with a fairly small client base of around 1,500 customers — quite an impressive number for a group that isn’t known to the mass populace.

The motto at Dell OEM is “We’ll do anything you pay us to do.”, and they mean it quite literally with a strong passion behind their words. The proof, of course, is in the world around you. Did you visit Redbox today or does your house get its power from a nuclear reactor? There’s a pretty good chance Dell OEM was a part of that.

In the next article, I’ll be covering more on Dell OEM’s clients and how they create a truly custom experience for their clients and end users alike.

Dell ‘Fractal’ Precision case designs revealed

December 14th, 2010 at 10:21 AM  3 Comments

Engadget has their hands on some exclusive design images for the next generation Dell Precision T7600, T5600, and T3600 lines, and they look pretty exciting. Finding out your getting a Dell may not be so boring in the near future.

Check out more of the design images in their gallery.

RIM fires back at Dell’s decision to ditch the BlackBerry

November 6th, 2010 at 12:33 PM  No Comments

It’s was probably a rough day in Waterloo, Canada yesterday when news hit that 25,000 Dell BlackBerry users would be making the switch to Windows Mobile 7.

Part of the reason cited for the switch is the 25% reduction in cost associated with the switch. In addition to the fact Dell would be migrating to their own Dell Venue Pro devices, they’d also be switching to Microsoft ActiveSync instead of routing all their messaging through RIM’s BlackBerry Enterprise services.

RIM (undoubtedly) didn’t feel the same way, with RIM’s Senior Vice President of Corporate Marketing Mark Guibert telling Dow Jones Newswires in an email:

“We find it highly unlikely that they will actually save any money with this move and far more likely they were looking for a little free publicity”

Are they? You betcha. Did it work? Yep. Will it be worth it? Time will tell.

via BGR

Dell to issue 25,000 employees Windows Phone 7 devices

November 5th, 2010 at 9:09 AM  1 Comment

Dell plans to give each and every employee a Windows Phone 7 device, specifically their Dell Venue Pro, as early as next week. In exchange, each employee must give up their CrackBlackBerry.

“Clearly in this decision we are competing with RIM, because we’re kicking them out,” the computer maker’s chief financial officer, Brian Gladden, said in an interview.

The company says the switch will save them 25% in mobile communications costs. They also plan to develop and market a service to encourage other companies to do the same thing. Dell also said they plan to offer phones based on Google Android in the program, in the future.

The 25,000 free Windows Phone 7 devices for Dell employees is in addition to the 89,000 devices given to each Microsoft employee. It’s a big boost for the enterprise credentials of Windows Phone 7 that two major companies are putting their money where their mouth is on this platform.

via The Wall Street Journal

Companies begin pushing PCIe SSD drives

October 29th, 2010 at 1:10 PM  No Comments

In a few years, the solid state drive in your computer may no longer look as it does today. At least, if a coalition of technology vendors have their way. Dell, EMC, IBM, Intel and a variety of others are trying to push out SATA connectivity for drives in favor of PCIe based connections.

While there are already PCIe drives for sale today, they’re typically 2 or 3 times as expensive as a traditional SATA based SSD drive. However, despite the price, they’re attractive because they are typically 5 or 6 times as fast in raw read/write speeds. PCIe is a lower latency connection because it doesn’t require any bridging chips to access the storage.

But while the interface will change to PCIe, the form factor of the current 2.5″ drive will stay the same. The coalition also wants to ensure hot plug capability to allow for faster online servicing and higher availability in server applications.

The group expects drives based on the new interface to be available as early as 2011.

via CRN

Dude, I hope you didn’t get a Dell

July 1st, 2010 at 2:03 AM  No Comments

Until the last few years I was a big Dell supporter. I recommended Dell to the majority of my business clients as well as anyone looking for a home machine. At the time I had no problems with the brand and they were usually one of the low price leaders in their class. I had clients buy Servers, Monitors and Desktops without blinking an eye.

I have noticed over the years the same customers I gave my recommendation to were complaining about increased problems but I just shrugged it off. I then was given 30 machines from around 1999 – 2001 to build a temporary training class with, half HP, Half Dell. I had problems with almost each one of the Dell’s. Everything from not posting to the heat sink clip being broken. The HP’s also had a couple of issues but not near as many as the Dell’s.

I thought at the time it might have been a coincidence, until my company decided to buy 500 off lease Dell GX260’s for a fresh build out. I was horrified, not because they were Dell’s but because they were old and ratty. We made due with what we were given and put them out to production and have seen nothing but issues. Everything from BIOS batteries going out to smoke coming out of the power supply. We have between 4 – 6 of these off lease Dell’s go bad every month and at least 2 of them have “caught fire” from the power supply.

Now I hear that Dell knowingly covered up that they sold faulty motherboards? Not just one or two, but 11.8 million!  How can I recommend for anyone to get a Dell product when they try to sweep this under the rug? How am I to know that they didn’t cover up a faulty power supply design in the GX260’s that we have so many issues with and they just haven’t been caught yet?

If you are looking for a new build out of any type I would steer clear of Dell, I know I will be for quite some time.

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