Super Micro Aims for SMB Market with Low-Cost Server System

While IT vendors from IBM, Hewlett-Packard and Dell have made small and midsized business a major focus for more than a year, Super Micro is now also looking to enter the field with a new energy-efficient server system called the SuperServer 5035L-iB. While Super Micro is primarily known for its line of systems for high-performance computing and enterprise data centers, CEO Charles Liang believes that his company needed a server specifically designed and priced for small businesses.

Super Micro, which is best known for its enterprise and high-performance computer (HPC) servers, is now eyeing small and midsized business customers with a new, low-cost system.

On Dec. 15, Super Micro will begin selling the SuperServer 5035L-iB, a mini-tower server that offers configurations with starting prices between $300 and $500, which is typically 20 to 30 percent lower than the company's more typical enterprise systems.

With the debut of the SuperServer 5035L-iB, Super Micro is looking to expand its business beyond its core enterprises government customers and into the small and midsize business (SMB) market that has been attracting the likes of Dell, IBM and Hewlett-Packard in recent years.

Super Micro CEO Charles Liang, who was recently featured in a New York Times profile, calls this new opportunity for his company SOHO for small office, home office business environments.

Is Super Micro ready for channel prime time? Find out here.

In an interview with eWEEK, Liang said that in order for his company to grow, it needed to reach out to small business customers with a lower-cost system. Liang also emphasized the SuperServer's energy-efficient 300-watt power supply and engineering that ensures the system runs quiet enough that it can be installed in a small office or a home.

"We wanted to bring enterprise technology to the SOHO market," said Liang during a telephone interview. "We wanted to have our SOHO server and storage system perform at 80-Plus Bronze level power efficiency. Besides the low power supply, we to have very low noise. It's like a home desktop noise level."

While companies such as HP with its SMB specific servers and systems such as its BladeSystem C3000 chassis have been courted small businesses for years, Liang said Super Micro needed to begin expanding its business and its channel offerings in order to grow.

"Last year, we grew 53 percent in terms of engineering manpower so we have more engineering resources now and that's why we have more of an opportunity to offer more products," said Liang.

The SuperServer 5035L-iB is based on Super Micro's own X7SLM-L server board, which supports one Intel Core 2 Duo E4000 series processor. The board can also support older Intel Pentium and Celeron processors as well for lower price configurations. The Super Micro X7SLM-L supports Intel's 945GC chip set as well as two DIMM (dual in-line memory modules) that offer up to 2GB of main SDRAM (synchronous dynamic random access memory).

The Super Micro X7SLM-L also supports up to four SATA (serial ATA) ports that support RAID O, 1, 5, 10 configurations. There is also support for 8 USB 2.0 ports.

In addition to more traditional business technology, Super Micro's server board also supports an Intel Graphics Media Accelerator 950 graphics engine as well as PCI-Express x16 graphics connector, which allows this system to work as multimedia server for home entertainment.

The SuperServer 5035L-iB is 7.25 inches wide and 15.25 inches high and supports up to four, 3.5-inch internal hard disk drive bays as well as two, 5.25-inch external bays and four I/O expansion slots.

The new Super Micro SuperServer 5035L-iB for SMBs is available to order as of Monday and the company plans to offer new configurations within the first quarter of 2009.