Rackspace Hosting Inc. is looking to reshape its business buy building servers from scratch. A recent report says the Web-hosting company will design its own server platforms to work natively with the OpenStack cloud platform and shy away from servers built by Hewlett-Packard Co., Dell Inc. and other major manufacturers.
Rackspace co-built the OpenStack platform with NASA, and with the widening use of it as a every-day open standard, Rackspace would be remiss not to strengthen it own technology by leveraging the platform as a foundation. This plan also proves the worthiness of the OpenStack platform (for those still wary), while allowing Rackspace greater creative freedom in deploying sever farms uniquely attuned for its service portfolio.
A careful reader may note this opens an interesting situation for both service providers and channel partners: If service providers recognize value in building custom servers, what will become of the channel partners that once served these providers? What does this mean for HP, Dell, Lenovo Group Ltd. and other companies focused on creating powerful off-the-shelf servers?
For the channel, it may mean falling back on the unique services that major vendors provide, instead of leading with hardware. That may be a hard sell because if a service provider is building its own server farm, it’s likely to have its own services to go with them — but it’s not impossible. Partners may have to readjust to the market, figure out what makes their branded servers unique and target the market that would most benefit. Vertical markets and the SMB space are a good start.
For manufacturers, this may be distressing, particularly if large server-provider clients that were once reliable customers are now investing in their own infrastructure. Much like the decline in PC sales, there will be a decline in server sales as white box x86 units become more affordable and easier to setup and configure, and open-source capabilities become more powerful.
It’s not time to panic. Not all service providers have the time, money or resources to build and maintain custom servers. That requires considerable internal investment, and, in many cases, lean and mean cloud providers will value the hardware support that comes with buying a fleet of servers from a major manufacturer. This means channel partners already working for HP, Lenovo or Dell will focus on that quality of service and the breadth of support services they can provide.
Winds of change are in the air — any partner focused on server sales should stay vigilant and relevant because whether or not server providers are a catalyst for this change, the traditional server market is not long for this world.
Leave a Reply