Partners See SMB Sweet Spot For Intel Modular Servers


The Clear Bay building blocks, which come with a built-in management console, can support up to six server compute nodes and 14 serial attached SCSI 2.5" hard disk drives, according to Intel. Clear Bay also has two Ethernet switch modules and virtual storage mapping.

"My customers are as excited about this launch as they were about quad-core," said Joe Toste, VP of sales and marketing at Equus Computer Systems in Minneapolis, Minn. Toste, speaking at a Clear Bay press briefing in San Francisco Friday, said the Equus Nobilis i5000SC modular server was already garnering strong interest from customers.

"Why are they excited? There are three things these reseller customers of ours are looking for -- they're looking for a different shade of product. Why do you want to go with a more complex blade system from a multi-national? They want it easy. This product is magic. It demystifies all these disparate technologies into one simple solution," Toste said.

"And they want to make money. Because of the modularity, there's more margin opportunity and more upsell opportunity for things like storage with this server solution."

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Clear Bay should find its "sweet spot" with SMBs looking for enterprise-class IT solutions, said David D'Agostino, VP of Operations at Victor, N.Y.-based Brite Computers.

"I think there's no question that there's a sweet spot in the SMB space, basically anyone with 10 to 25 users. The customer is able to scale this as the company grows, so it's basically a business-in-a-box. You can continuously increase modules," he said.

D'Agostino said Brite Computers was eager to fold Clear Bay into its managed services offering. He said the company was working out pricing for modular server-based solutions.

"We're a company that offers managed services, so wrapping this kind of product with a number of PCs is a possible entry-to-market solution for us. For a fully loaded solution, you're looking at $15,000 to $20,000, but that's at max capacity. You're probably looking at a $3,750 resell for the base unit," D'Agostino said.

He said that with memory, module costs, hard drives and operating system licenses, Brite Computers might be able to offer a two-server Clear Bay solution for about $8,000, adding that this would include "substantial disk space and substantial memory." And the open-source OS option could reduce costs significantly, he noted.

The ability to manage Clear Bay modules remotely was attractive to Colfax International's Gautam Shah. The CEO of the Sunnyvale, Calif.-based system builder said the built-in management module "makes our job of adding value so much easier."

"We can ship a completely configured server to a customer and manage it remotely," said Shah, speaking at the Intel press briefing in San Francisco. He said Colfax had been in the business of serving enterprises for decades, but saw a great opportunity for entering the SMB space with Clear Bay.

D&H Distributing's Tina Fisher said pre-orders for Clear Bay "bode well for it to be a very successful product."

"We're seeing an incredible amount of interest from current Intel server customers that have already translated to double-digit unit sales," said the director of purchasing at the Harrisburg, Penn.-based distributor.