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White Box Servers Maintain Share

Despite increased competition from top tier vendors, white box servers continue to be a viable alternative to their more well-known competitors, especially those small and midsize businesses and local government agencies seeking a long-term business relationship.

"The server market in the white box area has only continued to get stronger," said Doug Daniel, CEO of Atlanta-based NASBA, a professional trade organization whose more than 12,000 members sell more than 100,000 servers each month. "It is not a commodity at all. It's a relationship-driven model."

While vendors such as Dell and Hewlett-Packard have increased their customization capabilities, white-box server system builders are holding on to existing customer relationships and capturing new clients by tapping high-end technologies and offering personal, local support. Since they generally have short production schedules, white box server vendors also can adapt new technologies quicker than tier-one vendors, said Jim NieKamp, a NASBA director and vice president of member services.

New Technology Solutions Inc., as one example, sells a line of sophisticated dual and quad servers that use AMD's Opteron processor, which give users another option in addition to Intel-based technologies. "People seem to be interested in buying these systems," said Shawn Harty, president of the Lowell, Mass.-based system builder.

On the service side, white-box makers tout their ability to react nimbly to customer requests and to offer specialized services. In addition to designing, assembling and installing the servers, a growing number of system builders are offering services such as remote management that national firms are less able to provide, said NieKamp.

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