Gateway 2000 has always known how to have a laugh and a drink. Until now, you resellers have missed out on this, having to get your free laughs and drinks from the manufacturers that sold through third parties.
Owing to the oppressive financial conditions in which many PC manufacturers have found themselves operating recently, they haven't felt much like laughing and there wasn't much cash left over for booze. When a PC manufacturer tells you it has deep pockets, check to see if it also has short arms.
But now that Gateway 2000 is going to sell through a Var channel, some of you lot can have the key to the cocktail cabinet too. I'm not sure that this will sell many PCs, but my goodness, you'll have a good laugh.
When it was telling us about this development (the Var channel, not the cocktail cabinet), Gateway 2000 made an interesting point about where it can sell servers: the bottom end. Servers at the bottom end are just PCs turned on their side, says Gateway.
That's not exactly news to anyone who has been in the business for more than two years. Once upon a time no one pretended that a small server was anything else. Some of them didn't even have proper tower cases so users ricked their necks trying to read sideways labels, and still confused the (bizarrely useless) Turbo button with the Off switch. That was the fun of them. Not a lot of fun, admittedly, but we're dealing with servers here, and you need all the laughs you can get.
But in the last couple of years it has become an offence to talk about your server unless you attach some jargon to the description to make it sound more like a Vax than an Amstrad 1640. So now the standard PC turned on its side to become an entry-level server has an eight-level symmetrical multiple failover burst mode pipeline caching controller. It's that little square thing on the motherboard. Or is it that one? Anyway it's jolly good.
Customers who exclaim, 'it's a PC turned on its side!' are directed to the exquisite tooling of the tower case, the neat little stand it sits on, the size of the technical specification leaflet, and the impressive model number containing the letter X and a figure in the thousands. When they continue to protest, they're shown the price of a real server. That usually shuts them up. If someone tried to do this with a notebook computer, sticking a handle on top of a desktop box and screwing an LCD panel to the case, we'd all throw rotten fruit.
There are two ways to go: either we stop pretending servers are anything other than PCs, or we insist on certain recognisable signs. I'm personally in favour of a small bank of flashing lights on the front. Failing this, we could force all businesses to equip their servers with wheels.
The only other alternative is for servers to carry better maintenance contracts. But who would pay good money for that?
Tim Phillips is a freelance IT journalist.
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