Transitions made easier

One of the most common conversations I have with existing and potential Dell OEM customers has to do with transitions between platforms. There is often a misunderstanding about how often Dell releases new computer platforms and how much time a customer has to test the new platform before the old platform is no longer available to purchase. We know this conversation well because we get to talk about these issues all the time with our customers.

What most people don’t know is when it comes to commercial business systems from Dell (PowerEdge servers, Optiplex PCs, PowerVault storage, and such), we assure our customers no less than 3 months of transition time between old and new platforms. It is pretty common to see longer than three month transition cycles for many platforms. Still, for some customers’ solutions the amount of time required to develop on, test, qualify, and certify their applications on new platforms, more time is needed than three months.

To address this general need, Dell OEM Solutions added a 6 months overlap feature to our OEM-Ready line of platforms. This was no small undertaking as it requires we manage suppliers on a more intense level than our already extremely rigorous process for supply chain management which has won Dell considerably notoriety in the past. So, instead of forecasting and purchasing parts for an extra three months, our dedicated OEM team works hard to forecast and purchase components from our suppliers for six months beyond the release of the replacement platforms. This is hard work, and our teams have really stepped up and delivered amazing results with several previous generations of OEM-Ready platforms. Of course, the customer plays an absolutely critical role in the success of this transition program by providing accurate forecasts. Without accurate forecasting, components could potentially disappear from the market and not be available to us as the manufacturers of those parts are often eager to stop making the old stuff in order to focus on the cutting edge new stuff.

While the approximately six months of transition overlap Dell OEM Solutions can offer on the OEM-Ready platforms is typically sufficient for most of our OEM customers, there is that rare breed of solutions which need more than six months to develop on, test, qualify and certify on a new platform. Most common solutions requiring such rigorous development are in the Telco, Medical, and sometimes Security fields, and Dell OEM Solutions has many customers in those markets.

We have spent years working on a way to better meet the needs of those customers. We worked closely with Dell’s outstanding supply chain leaders and with our suppliers and development partners to come up with a new offering specifically targeting these long transition solutions. Starting with two platforms back in March and now with four platforms released over the past several weeks, Dell OEM Solutions is proud to announce our OEM-Ready XL program for the R210, R610, R710, and T710 PowerEdge server platforms, the most popular of our OEM-Ready lineup.

With the XL version of these platforms an OEM customer can get up to 12 months of overlap between old and new platforms or even old and new versions of the same platform (such as when Dell introduces a new motherboard to support the latest CPU offerings).  These platforms allow our OEM customers with solutions requiring the most extensive transition development to move at their own pace from old to new without the urgent concern of an immediate end of sales life of the old platform. They can continue shipping the old product to their customers while taking up to 12 months to release the new product based on the new platform.

To accomplish this unheard of extended transition period from a Tier-1 manufacturer was no small feat. We had to negotiate with our suppliers for the right component availability well beyond their initial desires, we had to limit the options on the platform in order to assure our customers a consistent supply of the components in the solution, and we had to build a significant supply-chain forecasting capability so our customers could be assured their needs were met according to their forecasts.

This was a major accomplishment for Dell OEM Solutions. We are eager to see how our customers can expand their offerings and better manage transitions now that they have the extra time they sometimes need to move from generation to generation of hardware platforms.

What do you think of our new OEM-Ready XL products?

About the Author: Franklin Flint