In many instances, supercomputing solutions built for customers are firsts, fastest, largest or most unique. When you're working on the leading edge in this way, problems and hold-ups can and do occur. In this case it is essential for customers to know that the main players in any supercomputing project - the integrator and the
primary hardware vendor - have a good relationship that ensures projects are run as efficiently as possible. It is imperative that customers should look for evidence of this relationship when selecting partners for their supercomputing solution.
1. Long-term commitment
When delivering supercomputing solutions it may take six to nine months
before a project is fully complete - from conception to installation and
configuration. The hardware vendor and the integrator should have a
long-term commitment to each other; sharing plans, business goals and
building their businesses together. This can only be achieved if
integrators hold relationships with just one or two primary hardware vendors and do not maintain a policy of "playing one vendor off against the other."
Furthermore, such supercomputing solutions are often sold alongside
commitments of future product direction. Such roadmap information is clearly
market sensitive and often subject to NDA's. Clearly, integrators that
provide commitment to vendors are more likely to be trusted with such
OCF, for example, holds Premier Partner status with IBM and has a policy of
wherever possible building its supercomputing solutions on IBM server and
2. Interlinking partnerships
For complimentary technology - supercomputing interconnects for example - it is often the case the primary vendor will not supply this technology. After all, no one company can supply everything. However, a good integrator will
look to build partnerships with complimentary technology vendors that also
share partnerships with the integrator's primary technology vendors. These
interlinking partnerships will help to build and develop the overall
relationship between integrator and primary hardware vendors.
3. Regular interaction
Customers should look for evidence of regular interaction between vendor and integrator. Vendors and integrators should interact at multiple levels
within each others' organisations. It is also essential for a vendor to
provide integrators with a dedicated account manager - someone who has a
focus on that integrator and its customers. This human interaction helps to ensure "the cogs mesh" and "don't grind" between each organisation.
4. Partner Programmes
Vendors particularly should demonstrate commitment to integrators through
modern partner programmes. Partner programmes enable vendors and
integrators to decide how best to open markets, build specific go-to market
plans and clearly share the risks and rewards. Importantly, the programmes
help vendors and integrators present a shared view or outlook to the
5. Single team
When installing new technology for the first time, customers should also
look for evidence that both the integrator and hardware vendor will be
available on site throughout installation. This should be a regular feature until knowledge of a new product is completely transferred from vendor to
Ultimately, vendors and integrators should demonstrate to customers a
commonality of interest - a business need that strongly links them both
A large hardware vendor such as IBM will have literally hundreds of
thousands of customers and will find it increasingly expensive to services
those customers. It may also find that smaller customer sites are not used
to, or willing to work with large global organisations. Vendors will rely
on integrators that can demonstrate market knowledge, technology know-how, a strong backing of customer references and the ability to integrate products
without damaging the brand of the vendor. Vendors will also benefit if the
integrator has its own profile and brand awareness.
In return, integrators will rely on vendors to continually develop products
and solutions, but importantly offer good technical support and pricing. A
vendor can also help integrators to secure sales and win deals by ensuring
the success of its own brand.
About OCF plc
Based in Sheffield UK, OCF designs, integrates and supports High Performance Computing (HPC), Visualisation (HPV) and Data Storage (HPS) solutions for the public and private sectors.
OCF provides solutions for over 38 (21 per cent) of the UK’s 176 Universities, Higher Education Institutes and Research Councils. Plus, it provides solutions for over 25 commercial clients from the automotive, aerospace, utilities, pharmaceutical, manufacturing, oil & gas and financial industries.
OCF holds IBM Premier Partner status and enhances its IBM-based solutions using technology from a range of partners: AMD, Cisco, Dataram, Fakespace, Infortrend, Intel, Microsoft, Nallatech, Qlogic, Supermicro Computer, Inc., Tyan and Voltaire.
For more information, please visit the OCF website http://www.ocf.co.uk