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Custom vs. Off-the-Shelf Technology?


OK, so you’ve already made the smart decision and know you want to buy a high performance computer now what? Your second biggest decision will be whether to go with an off-the shelf version or one that’s custom designed. Here are a few considerations to help you decide:

1. Does your existing technology need to be integrated?

If you don’t have complex system components that need to be integrated into the technology, off-the shelf could be OK. Otherwise you’ll eliminate a lot of headaches and downtime with a custom solution that’s designed from the ground up to be compatible with your existing technology.

2. Will you need to upgrade your technology within the next five years?

Most organizations start shopping for technology in the first place because they are growing so rapidly; and rapidly growing organizations usually have rapidly evolving technology needs. While an off-the shelf solution is expandable to a degree, it may not be expandable in ways that benefit your organization. A good custom builder will help you forecast future needs and then will integrate specific expandability capabilities.

3. Is the intended use outside the mainstream?

If you are just looking at mega number crunching, then an off-the-shelf could be OK. On the other hand, if your organization specializes in a particular area that requires niche, complex computing functionality a custom will be the better option.

4. Are you operating on a tight budget?

Considering total cost of ownership (hardware purchase price, integration, fixed operating costs, employee training, etc.) custom technology will almost always be the better choice. One of the many reasons is that a good custom builder will be able to incorporate non-standard energy-saving features into the design.

5. How important is independent benchmarking?

High performance technology is always an investment. There’s nothing worse than discovering that the off-the shelf system you bought doesn’t perform to either the manufacturer’s specifications or your own specifications. This is not an issue with custom technology that is independently built for and benchmarked to your intended use.

6. Are you going to need post-implementation support?

High performance technology requires specialized knowledge and a level of expertise that is far above that of a typical independent IT service provider. A custom builder will already know your system inside and out and will be available to help you long after your purchase.

If you’ve decided that custom is your best choice, here are a few things to look for in an HPC technology builder:
  • Do they provide 100% true customization that incorporates leading-edge technology?
  • Do they offer top quality products that meet or exceed industry standards?
  • Do they offer an exact solution that’s designed collaboratively and is expandable to your future needs?
  • Will they design a system that will easily integrate to your existing technology?
  • Will they thoroughly benchmark the system under conditions that replicate your intended use?
  • Do they offer comprehensive post-implementation support?

A good custom builder, like Ace Computers, works with multiple vendors, topologies, and infrastructures; they have experienced engineers with expertise in hardware and software solutions; their sales reps focus on HPC only (not consumer PC sales); and they have a strong (and long) track record.



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