Archive for November, 2018

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Buying Servers Online: UK eCommerce Survey – Software

November 8, 2018

In a recent Blog we featured a survey carried out by channelcentral on Buying Servers Online and promised future Blogs to deliver high level information from the results of the survey.

Here’s a link to that Blog: https://channelcentral.blog/2018/11/05/buying-servers-online-uk-ecommerce-survey/

To set the context most Servers ship with either NO Operating System or possibly a version of Linux such as ClearOS (https://www.clearos.com/). In most cases the Buyer needs to procure an Operating System or Software from Microsoft, Red Hat, SUSE and possibly VMware or Citrix to boot the server up. This can come from the Software Vendor although increasingly Reseller Option Kits (ROKs) are available from the Manufacturer of the Server.

Having established the likelihood of requiring an Operating System how easy was it to add an Operating System to a Server System Unit? Not very easily is the answer.

System Units offering Operating Systems as an attach:

We surveyed 126 SKU instances (21 Resellers x 6 SKUs) of which 102 were found. Of the 102:

  • 8 had very strong coverage.
  • 44 had some coverage.
  • 50 had no software offered.

Where/when we saw Operating Systems offered, it was generally Microsoft and then most often ROK Licenses.

Techniques to Display Operating Systems:
There was no standard way to display Operating Systems here are some examples:

  • In the Accessories listing which is where you’d expect it to be.
  • Although Accessories often means cables and small options.
  • In Bundles where the Operating System is included in the System Unit part as a ‘special’.
  • This was incredibly confusing as you’d search a site for a SKU Part Number and get c.5 results all with different Operating Systems and Prices.
  • We also saw stock anomalies where the standard SKU was in stock, the Bundles not in stock.
  • A few Resellers using ‘syndicated content’ via a Microsoft widget that appeared on sites with a small banner advert. It had two tabs: OS and CALs.
  • In theory a good thing but it broke the navigation of the site and was inconsistent with the branding.
  • Resellers placed the link in different places, so it was easy to miss.

Recommendation/Demand Shaping:

This was non-existent. As certain Operating System versions target different parts of the Market and certain Servers do likewise it would seem obvious to hold some form of ‘order of preference’ against the Servers. Alas no. There was little evidence of recommendations or better still “solution” user journeys.

Other Software:

Apart from some of the Management Software ‘utilities”: nothing.

Summary:

To move to “Frictionless” eCommerce there’s some basics that need to be addressed by applications or data to increase Buyer confidence. On the evidence we saw nobody would buy a server via most of the Resellers we surveyed using their Web Store.

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Buying Servers Online: UK eCommerce Survey

November 5, 2018


Nearly 20 years after the .com crash, the cause of which was due (in part) to the hype around eCommerce, you would think it would be relatively easy to buy a Server online from a Reseller or Retailer. Well channelcentral knows the answer as we’ve surveyed 21 online Resellers/Retailers in the UK during October 2018 – a market that is well established with eCommerce.

The Server Market is now consolidated so that there are only three or four vendors of scale who sell via the Channel. We picked the two biggest: HPE and Dell/EMC. Three SKUs each from their stock/promo supply chain ranging from single CPU tower to dual CPU rack. We have expected that Lenovo, Fujitsu would be similar and we weren’t sure whether Cisco sold Servers ex-stock.

In the Survey we looked at a number of basics:

  • Was the System Unit available?
  • Did the Store offer Hardware Options? Software? Services?
  • Were Product Reviews available? Leasing/Finance? Promotions?
  • Did anyone offer CPQ (Configure Price Quote)? channelcentral’s favourite subject.
  • What else was interesting? Any best practices? Any worst practices?

The results were incredibly insightful and so we’ll be releasing the information in the following ways:

  1. Look out for our Blog articles as we feed conclusions into it.
  2. We’ll issue the entire Survey as a White Paper.
  3. For people with tiny attention spans we’ll do an Infographic.
  4. Any Reseller who was in the Survey can get a version of the White Paper with their performance benchmarked against the other 20.

Importantly, channelcentral wasn’t asked to conduct a survey, it’s not sponsored by anyone and our software resides in Distribution. Where we have a potential conflict of interest we happily point it out. In other words we’re 100% impartial.

If your job is selling Server, Software, Services & Accessories/Options, be prepared.