[Beowulf] Re: GPU boards and cluster servers.

Prentice Bisbal prentice at ias.edu
Tue Sep 9 12:38:38 PDT 2008

Robert G. Brown wrote:
> On Mon, 8 Sep 2008, Greg Lindahl wrote:
>> On Mon, Sep 08, 2008 at 02:58:36PM -0400, Prentice Bisbal wrote:
>>> I think these trends have more to do with the cheap cost of Dell
>>> Hardware and Dell's sales force  and marketing to upper management than
>>> they do with any technical advantages Dell has over the competition.
>> I was involved in the top 2 Dell systems in the UK. Both were
>> competetive bids, with a cluster integrator other than Dell, and Dell
>> hardware. So no, marketing wasn't a big driver, but low cost was.
> And there's nothing wrong with that.  One thing that is appealing about
> Dells in any professional operation is that they usually come with hot
> and cold running service, pay for what you need.  If I buy e.g. a Dell
> laptop (as I have for six or seven years now) I pay a single, easily
> budgeted price and if it breaks (as it has six or seven times now over
> the years -- I USE my laptop, run hard and put up wet), a nice man comes
> to my house and fixes it on the spot, sitting at my dining room table.
> Nearly anywhere else I could by a laptop leaves me with depot repair or
> worse.
> They provide similar levels of coverage on server/cluster systems.  This
> can in turn let you prebudget all maintainance costs at the time of
> original purchase and be CERTAIN that your cluster or server room will
> not require additional emergency repair funds for the next 3-4 years,
> the expected useful life of the hardware anyway.  It also saves you
> tremendously on your OWN opportunity cost time if something breaks as a
> phone call is a lot cheaper than slogging down to the server room,
> pulling a box, benching it, and messing with it for a few hours to
> figure out which part has gone bad.  At the very least the "few hours"
> part can be relegated to somebody else.

My experience with tech support from Dell and other large vendors is
contradictory to yours. Even when I have "on-site" support, they will
not send out an on-site technician until the problem has been accurately
pinpointed through phone support, so they know what hardware to ship.

Most recently, I had a Dell PowerEdge something-or-other that wouldn't
bootup - it was competely dead. The phone technician had me on the phone
for several hours diagnosing the problem, and LONG after my day normally
ends. I asked the phone technician to just send out an on-site
technician repeatedly (and pointed out that we are PAYING for that
service), and he refused.

After finally diagnosing the problem, the phone support then scheduled a
technician to come out with a new PERC card and motherboard to replace
one or both of them.  At that point, they could have skipped the on-site
technician and let me replace those parts myself. When the technician
showed up a couple days later, he was in and out in less than an hour.

Again, I'm not picking on Dell specifically. I've seen this behavior
with other large vendors. My point is that "on-site support" usually
isn't always, so don't believe the hype.


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