Supermicro CEO On Driving Growth, Edging Out The Competition And Increasing Opportunities For VARs, SIs

Supermicro's Call To Arms: Optimizing Total Solutions

San Jose, Calif.-based Supermicro has traditionally been working to provide its global customer base with application-optimized servers, workstations, storage and GPU systems. But as those areas expand to include cloud-based solutions and IoT as well, Supermicro is counting on its partner base to help lead the charge in new markets.

Charles Liang, founder and CEO of Supermicro, said that systems integrator and reseller partners will be key in the company's charge to drive optimized total solutions for customers.

"Our VAR or SI partners are selling to all different kinds of end users or customers … we can work with them quickly to provide total solutions to their customers," he said.

Following are excerpts from CRN's conversation with Liang.

How is your current channel ecosystem helping you reach all facets of the customer solution?

As you know with today's IT industry, customers want more and more powerful solutions – the customers need all bases of a solution, and it's not easy for a single company, whether it's an SI or VAR or ourselves, to service all of those customers' demands on our own.

So teamwork is ideal. We're working with partners at Intel, systems integrators, and end users to make ready-to-go turnkey solutions for the market. We work with VARs and SIs, and we do work with some customers directly when they need that kind of service. Also we work together with VARs, SIs and the end users – it's kind of teamwork.

How is Supermicro working with its partners to provide total optimized solutions for end users?

By working with partners, we try to cover all bases that the customer needs. In the past five years our revenue grew about six times, so overall our business has been doing very well. And the key is that we're working with partners to provide customers a full index for what they need.

Is Supermicro's future in the data center or in the hyperscale cloud provider market?

As an engineering company, my goal is to provide the best hardware solutions. So we want to provide partners and customers with whatever they need. Our goal is to continue to provide scale, and grow economical scale as an advantage for our partners. It depends on customer demand – we try to provide whatever we can.

Talk about your IoT gateway solutions – what kind of demand are you seeing in the marketplace around IoT?

IoT is quickly growing. Because we have very strong server knowledge, we can leverage that and make it more efficient to provide what IoT customers need. We can provide a total solution; when customers need hardware or firmware, we have that coverage. That's why IoT Embedded is a great market. We've grown 30 percent year over year, and this year will be even stronger.

What are the channel opportunities around embedded solutions and IoT?

For IoT Embedded specifically we work pretty much with the channel like SIs and VARs – the partner ecosystem around that market is pretty big. And that's where we'll continue our focus. We're already a strong hardware component company, offering total solutions. It's to our benefit to partner with the channel and those companies where we can go to market together. The market demand is so big, so it's not easy for a single company to satisfy that overall demand. Our goal is to grow market share.

Talk about your partnership with Intel and the increasing competition between Intel and AMD in the chip marketplace. What are you seeing there?

We've worked with Intel chips from day one very closely. That partnership will continue to grow. We have engineering power, but at this moment, they are such a strong solution.

[When it comes to competition between AMD and Intel] it depends on the market … we've had some AMD designs as well. We try overall to have a good balance for customer demand. At the moment we are growing both sides, but Intel's base to us is a much higher percentage of our solutions. But we do have both.

How is Supermicro beating out its competitors around storage, data center and IoT?

First of all, we offer a total solution. When our partners need custom solutions, we are able to provide complete solutions – with hardware and some firmware. No. 2 is quality. We support a lot of enterprise customers directly or indirectly. We have set our quality standard as one of the highest in the market. The other is service. We have a global service channel of engineers and technicians. So whenever our customer has a technical support need, we can support them locally. No. 4 – our go-to-market strategy. We work with vendors very closely, whether it's a CPU or NVMe solutions – we work with our vendors very closely to provide a new technology and solution to our partners better than all other competitors. And lastly, economical scale – we provide the customer with a very reasonable cost structure.