Pennywise but Pound Foolish

When it comes to purchasing PC-based server hardware for business use, it usually does not pay to be too cheap when the server is originally purchased. What I mean by this is that there is often a tendency to cut corners, in an honest, but misguided attempt to save money.

A good example is buying a dual-processor capable web server with one processor instead of two processors, thinking that you can always buy a second processor if you need to. It is true that you can buy the second processor, but you will find that the major vendors (such as Dell, HP, etc.), will charge typically 3-4 times the retail cost for that second processor (calling it a processor kit), when you buy it later.

Most medium to large companies usually deal with a dedicated sales rep from their server vendor. These reps are under intense sales pressure from their employer, which makes them pretty easy to negotiate with when you are buying multiple complete new servers. They are usually impossible to negotiate with on price for upgrade components that are bought later.  This means you will come out way ahead by buying the server with both processors from the beginning.

Another real example is a processor upgrade for a quad processor server. This server currently has four 3.0GHz, dual-core "Paxville" Xeon processors, but it can be upgraded to four 3.4GHz, dual-core "Tulsa" Xeon processors. The price difference on the vendor’s web site for a server with four Paxvilles vs. four Tulsas is actually about $1000 cheaper for the Tulsas right now. I have a quote from our sales rep to buy four Tulsa processors for $5000 each, which is more than the cost of a complete new server with 32GB of RAM, Windows Server 2003 R2 Enterprise, 3 years of Gold support, etc.

One thing I have found in my career is that end-users will never complain about an application being "too fast". Spending a little more money initially to get better hardware is cheaper than trying to upgrade that hardware later, plus you don’t have to fight the battle to spend money twice.

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