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Whiteboxes Are In Your Future
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SaneIT
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SaneIT,
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12/20/2013 | 12:30:42 PM
White box storage
While I can't say I'm opposed to the idea I'd really have to take a close look at any white box offering before diving in no matter how inexpensively they can deliver storage space.  I've used NAS devices by lesser known branded companies and the issues, lack of support and all around wacky fixes were just too much to take.  With storage costs from the big vendors dropping every year I'm sure this will help drive prices down but eventually we'll get to a point where cheaper is just cheaper not more cost effective.
joreilly925
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joreilly925,
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12/20/2013 | 2:04:21 PM
Re: White box storage
@SaneIT, The support issue is definitely on the table for new vendors, especially foreign suppliers. On the other hand, Quamta and other big ODMs are delivering huge quantities to Google and Amazon, so one assumes they have high quality. I see a period with a lot of suppliers and a bit of confusion, then a period of consolidation, just as the SMB NAS market has evolved.
ChrisMurphy
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ChrisMurphy,
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12/20/2013 | 4:44:12 PM
Re: White box storage
Is this mostly a big company opportunity -- one that only big companies with the IT staff expertise to piece these together can tap? 
joreilly925
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joreilly925,
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12/20/2013 | 4:54:30 PM
Re: White box storage
@Chris, the big companies certainly have the team to do this, but I expect the usual spectrum of VARs and integrators will build the units, and then sell them on. This could be described as a multi-level selling opportunity for the ODMs, ranging from cloud firms to large enterprises to VARS to end-users.
Brian.Dean
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Brian.Dean,
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12/22/2013 | 3:48:26 AM
Re: White box storage
@Jim, yes you are right and this pattern has all the hallmarks of the product life cycle theory. I feel that innovation in hardware is slowing down and that's part of the reason why companies don't want to be in the hardware business anymore, on the other hand software has a lot of room for innovation. Add into the mix that competitors do not have proper frameworks for IP, and the advantage becomes clear.
joreilly925
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joreilly925,
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12/22/2013 | 1:05:46 PM
Re: White box storage
It's a bit reminiscent of what happened with TV's, though I see Foxconn is planning to build large-scren TVs in the US.
SaneIT
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SaneIT,
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12/23/2013 | 7:37:19 AM
Re: White box storage
I'm not saying that support will be totally non-existant but the levels of support and expectations are often very different when a company is selling a product as a white box solution.  That isn't always bad but if you're expecting the same amount of attention that your current hardware provider is giving you then it might be a bit of culture shock.  I see it as the difference between mainstream applications with a large developer behind them and open source software projects that require a lot more leg work on your end to fix issues.
joreilly925
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joreilly925,
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12/23/2013 | 11:53:54 AM
Re: White box storage
@SaneIT, while generally true that branded boxes from traditional suppliers get good support, the whitebox community benefits from the quality and interoperability of the components. If the intergrator buys from good suppliers like Quanta fro instance, the chances are the box will work well.

There is the question of support, but my experience is this is often a case of esoteric peripherals or OS other than LInux or Windows. The community forums for the mainstream solutions tend to clear up many issues.

That leaves the occasional blunder that even big providers make, such as a BIOS or EFI error. This is an area where, perversely, even the traditional OEMs have to go back to the same Chinese resources, and often they have the same "lost-in-translation" issues.

Bottom line is if you use reputables vendors' components, there's less difference than you think.


Of course, if HP or Dell is integrating apps and the rest, too, the level of support ought to be better than if you do it yourself, so whiteboxes aren't free.
Susan Fogarty
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Susan Fogarty,
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12/23/2013 | 12:12:58 PM
Re: White box storage
I agree the whitebox model seems to require a lot more IT expertise and I would expect to see far less help from the vendors. But as Jim notes, VARs and system integrators are most likely to be building these kinds of systems. And if the boxes evolve like TVs, then we'll just start throwing them away when they don't work, so there won't be any question of troubleshooting or fixing them anyway.
Brian.Dean
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Brian.Dean,
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12/23/2013 | 12:23:18 PM
Re: White box storage
Television have been reinvented many times and I guess the next company that manages to reinvent the Television will be able to manufacture it in any economy (developed or developing) because innovation carries a lot of value and it can easily offset advantages that would be gained if the cost of labor was lower.
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