Why does enterprise IT insist on controller cards?

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Every Dell workstation deployed seems to get an LSI RAID controller, even though RAID is never used. The machine I just got has a 256GB SSD, attached to an LSI MegaRAID SAS 9341-8i. What is the reason for this? Seems to me the money would be better spent toward a better CPU (they spec'd this with two lowly 2609 v3s).

Not saying it is the wrong choice, just genuinely interested in the answer.
 

MrCaffeineX

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Every Dell workstation deployed seems to get an LSI RAID controller, even though RAID is never used. The machine I just got has a 256GB SSD, attached to an LSI MegaRAID SAS 9341-8i. What is the reason for this? Seems to me the money would be better spent toward a better CPU (they spec'd this with two lowly 2609 v3s).

Not saying it is the wrong choice, just genuinely interested in the answer.
There are several contributing factors, but here are the few that I run into the most frequently:

1) Management doesn't really know that much about the hardware, so they just accept the recommendation of the sales representative or read a review from a CNet/PCWorld type of publication and accept it at face value without digging any further.

2) That's how it has always been done. Some managers still remember the days when on-board device controllers were not as reliable as they are today or when there were no on-board controllers for things like RAID. Since that is how it was back then, that is how it must still be today and therefore there is no need to question it.

3) Due to the nature of enterprise hardware, it is entirely possible that the configuration that was ordered was readily available (no build-time delay) or is the most popular configuration, so it may have actually had the best price. Strangely enough, I have seen this on several occasions with Dell and HP. Ordering a machine without a theoretically expensive add-in component was actually more expensive because it was now classified as a special order item.

There are a lot more potential reasons. I simply listed the first couple that I have seen on a fairly regular basis when doing IT consulting for SMBs.
 

kac77

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Well that's a 12 Gb/s SAS Card. So you are talking about a massive boost in data transfer rates across the board. That thing is anything but a waste. Errr I mean it's complete trash....give it to me. :D
 

ochadd

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Why not just ask IT? Personally I love it when a user takes interest in our hardware. They're the first ones to get new toys because it's nice to be appreciated.

Probably procurement and standardization reasons.
 
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Why not just ask IT? Personally I love it when a user takes interest in our hardware. They're the first ones to get new toys because it's nice to be appreciated.

Probably procurement and standardization reasons.
Funny you should ask, I was already borderline harassing the guy who does desktop ordering for our group trying to get a different configuration (I have another thread about that, somewhere - I use ArcGIS Desktop which is still single-threaded, and the dual 2609 v3 is pretty much the exact opposite of what I would need in terms of performance). He is the nicest guy, and I must have called and emailed him 25 times - I started to feel badly (bad?) about it. He tried hard for me but got shot down by his manager, I think. Apparently everybody gets the same workstation / laptop / clerical desktop (OptiPlex), no exceptions, for inventory purposes.

One good thing was on the spec sheet he sent, a 900GB 10K spinner was included, when in reality I got a 256GB SSD. Strangely, when I enter the Dell service code on the website, it says it is a Samsung, but the LSI BIOS says it is a Micron M550 (Crucial, obviously). I can't tell inside of Device Manager, it just says it is an LSI 9341 SSD :confused:

Turns out the 1.9GHz clock speed is not as bad as I would have thought. Get this though - the system was ordered with 16GB memory, and they installed 4 x 4GB sticks - 2 for each CPU, so the system is not running in quad-channel mode, so that doesn't help either. :(

I also have another thread about USB3.0 not working, which I need because I transfer huge datasets to external devices often.

Thanks for the input everyone!
 

CaptNumbNutz

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There are several contributing factors, but here are the few that I run into the most frequently:

1) Management doesn't really know that much about the hardware, so they just accept the recommendation of the sales representative or read a review from a CNet/PCWorld type of publication and accept it at face value without digging any further.

2) That's how it has always been done. Some managers still remember the days when on-board device controllers were not as reliable as they are today or when there were no on-board controllers for things like RAID. Since that is how it was back then, that is how it must still be today and therefore there is no need to question it.

3) Due to the nature of enterprise hardware, it is entirely possible that the configuration that was ordered was readily available (no build-time delay) or is the most popular configuration, so it may have actually had the best price. Strangely enough, I have seen this on several occasions with Dell and HP. Ordering a machine without a theoretically expensive add-in component was actually more expensive because it was now classified as a special order item.

There are a lot more potential reasons. I simply listed the first couple that I have seen on a fairly regular basis when doing IT consulting for SMBs.
#3 is an interesting one for sure. Supply and demand do funny things when assembly lines are involved. It's probably much quicker and cheaper to put certain hardware in every box to be shipped out than configure each one individually. A baseline product means they can pump out several hundred like it, but removing something from the baseline means they got to pay a guy to remove it.
Why not just ask IT? Personally I love it when a user takes interest in our hardware. They're the first ones to get new toys because it's nice to be appreciated.

Probably procurement and standardization reasons.
Wouldn't it also be easier if the servers have certain baseline hardware when making OS images and/or speeding up the installation and configuration when deploying?
 
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PersonalJ

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It's likely the workstation has an enterprise SSD with a SAS interface, thus it requires the RAID controller.
 

AlienTech

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Why do companies order things? I remember I needed a lap top very fast so they ordered a dell one.. The cost was more than twice what I found for a Toshiba or some other laptop locally and was much lighter.. They would not get the one I wanted and told them about. They would ONLY get this particular one which was just overweight and over expensive.. All our stuff was this way..

I never used that laptop, since I was responsible for it I left it on my desk. I bought another one locally and carried that around. It still took a week to get it and mine was all configured to how I like by that time anyway.. The entire laptop I bought locally from frys also cost less than just the extra ram that was ordered with it.

My conclusion.. The guy doing the ordering was getting free vacations all expenses paid..
 

Bigdady92

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I would murder entire worlds to have that kind of IT budget for that type of system and give to my users. Massive overkill but if you standardize your parts all the way through the process you'll find that costs go down massively as you are only ordering 1 of this type and 1 of that type which makes inventory a cake walk.
 

Bigdady92

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Why do companies order things? I remember I needed a lap top very fast so they ordered a dell one.. The cost was more than twice what I found for a Toshiba or some other laptop locally and was much lighter.. They would not get the one I wanted and told them about. They would ONLY get this particular one which was just overweight and over expensive.. All our stuff was this way..

I never used that laptop, since I was responsible for it I left it on my desk. I bought another one locally and carried that around. It still took a week to get it and mine was all configured to how I like by that time anyway.. The entire laptop I bought locally from frys also cost less than just the extra ram that was ordered with it.

My conclusion.. The guy doing the ordering was getting free vacations all expenses paid..
Because that POS laptop that you got at Fry's may have cost less but now that's one more laptop variety that the IT dept has to support and when it goes tits up they can't call Dell like the rest of their fleet of equipment and ship out a new one. Now they just have to tell you to goto Toshiba or Fry's and get it fixed for which you are down for that whole time with nothing. With Dell/HP/Lenovo support you get a new piece of equipment the next day without hassle. You being down for a week to save a few bucks costs the company more in terms of your salary and productivity.

This is why companies pay a 30% or higher premium on equipment: Support.
 
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I would murder entire worlds to have that kind of IT budget for that type of system and give to my users. Massive overkill but if you standardize your parts all the way through the process you'll find that costs go down massively as you are only ordering 1 of this type and 1 of that type which makes inventory a cake walk.
Not sure what you mean; I was told that allowing custom configurations, even a single different part from the standard, creates a "logistical nightmare" for IT, and that the only justification for a customized order is if you can prove a business case for it, and you will be ordering a large number of systems to fit that need.
 

HammerSandwich

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I remember I needed a lap top very fast so they ordered a dell one.. The cost was more than twice what I found for a Toshiba or some other laptop locally and was much lighter.. They would not get the one I wanted and told them about.
Sounds like you've never serviced a Toshiba.
 

Bigdady92

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Not sure what you mean; I was told that allowing custom configurations, even a single different part from the standard, creates a "logistical nightmare" for IT, and that the only justification for a customized order is if you can prove a business case for it, and you will be ordering a large number of systems to fit that need.


He is 100% right, custom configs are a support nightmare. Standardize the whole way through regardless is a Inventory management dream.
 

ipeefreely

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.... I use ArcGIS Desktop which is still single-threaded, and the dual 2609 v3 is pretty much the exact opposite of what I would need in terms of performance ...
Are you able to switch to ArcGIS Pro? I'm sure it would scream on dual CPUs even if they're only 1.9GHz. :D

I'd like to start testing it this fall but we won't get much of a boost as our network is our current bottle neck (has been forever)... :mad:
 

Dan_D

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Why not just ask IT? Personally I love it when a user takes interest in our hardware. They're the first ones to get new toys because it's nice to be appreciated.

Probably procurement and standardization reasons.
The problem is many if not most people in IT have little interest in the hardware. Senior admins especially couldn't give a shit about hardware.
 
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Are you able to switch to ArcGIS Pro? I'm sure it would scream on dual CPUs even if they're only 1.9GHz. :D

I'd like to start testing it this fall but we won't get much of a boost as our network is our current bottle neck (has been forever)... :mad:
Yes we have ArcGIS Pro. It's nice but is still in early development stages. I have done some geoprocessing with it and monitored task manager, I think it only used 2 cores if I remember correctly. The only esri tool I've seen leverage all cores is parallel geocoding.
 

Aesma

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Why do companies order things? I remember I needed a lap top very fast so they ordered a dell one.. The cost was more than twice what I found for a Toshiba or some other laptop locally and was much lighter.. They would not get the one I wanted and told them about. They would ONLY get this particular one which was just overweight and over expensive.. All our stuff was this way..

I never used that laptop, since I was responsible for it I left it on my desk. I bought another one locally and carried that around. It still took a week to get it and mine was all configured to how I like by that time anyway.. The entire laptop I bought locally from frys also cost less than just the extra ram that was ordered with it.

My conclusion.. The guy doing the ordering was getting free vacations all expenses paid..
That can only work if there is a BYOD policy, or no security whatsoever. If I bring my personal laptop at work, I will not get network access.
 

Anemone

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Probably somewhere in your User chain is a requirement for that kind of card or perhaps that specific card to meet a software or usage need. It is extremely efficient for there to be a common platform in a business environment and yes that usually means 5-10 common platforms, but of a limited number. That way there are spares in stock if it's cards or machines and there is a common knowledgebase on what goes wrong and how to address it. It isn't efficient for all users, some get more power in an area they don't need and some don't get quite as much in an area they use a lot.

BUT, when it comes time to swapping a new machine in or fixing something misbehaving on your device, the payoff comes. It's fast and easy if it's done properly, hours vs days/weeks. Small changes, however can and should be considered, such as more memory for a given set of users (like Adobe). But some management doesn't want to be bothered. If sometimes a given part seems a bit overkill it can help you better understand if you know the many groups that one device serves. But if you need a change, it's at least worth asking if a change can be made. If you get a firm no for an answer, then live with it unless you are facing something truly workflow damaging by not getting the change. Then you have to work through your customization process and hope for understanding.
 

Chellexelle

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Another reason you may not have considered.

I know that when it comes to large companies, many operate like a bureaucracy with so many people in higher levels of management making decisions and overriding those of others below them to a point that almost seems idiotic to the employees. Without knowing upper managements thinking, it hard to know. Maybe the company has a contract with Dell witch is why the guy doing the ordering insists on using Dell products even when there are cheaper and better options.

Another thing to consider is that different departments in a large company have a set budget based on the previous years spending. If say the IT department of a large multinational corporation is given a 2 million dollar budget per year but they only spend 1 million then the next time the IT departments budget comes up for review, management may decide to give that department less money so to ensure they keep their budget, they spend money they don't really need to on things like LSI RAID controller cards. I have seen big businesses throw away tools and other things that still work or are in excellent condition and waste money on new things just so that branch, facility or department can continue getting the same amount of money next year.
 

bds1904

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I work for an extremely large international company. Hardware assets are handled at a regional and sometimes national level. The prices they usually pay are 30%-40% less than the typical 100-500 machine order.

Because of this hardware upgrades are standardized.

It could be they are actually paying much less than you think when you factor in the hardware support contract.
 

kdh

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in a large IT organization, its easier for the helpdesk that builds and deploys massive amounts of systems to have only a handful of systems, configurations, and images to maintain and support. it is actually cheaper in terms of man hours to spend a little extra on a standard configuration of machines then it is to have a helpdesk resource custom load 100s of machines or trouble shoot them when the end user does something completely stupid with them.

From the outsider looking in, it does seem like a waste and stupid but there is actually other cost benefits that out weight having nonstandard configs that you may not see.
 

bexamous

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Hardware, while it can seem expensive, is cheap compared to employee's time.

Lots of things are not worth it when factoring in additional man-hours of work it'll create.
 

swatbat

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With the 900 gig sas drive on the spec sheet I'm guessing they were originally ordering them with it and the sas controller was there to support it. At some point they switched to ordering them with SSD's and never changed anything else.

As others has said support costs go way down when you can standardize hardware.
 
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