Over the past two decades it has been common for technology developers to deploy their application as a software installation, and more recently virtual deployments have come into play. However, either method can potentially create difficulties for software companies, which is why many are switching to preconfigured hardware appliances dedicated to running just their specific software.
We know that different end users desire different deployment options, but we want you to be aware of the benefits of the hardware appliance model compared to other options. Let’s explore.
(Note: Hardware appliances are also referred to as single-purpose physical systems, server appliances, appliance platforms, hardware platforms, dedicated computers, optimized systems, dedicated appliances, and other similar terms.)
1. Limited Deployment Variabilities
There’s little variability to plan for when your software is deployed on a hardware appliance. With an appliance the box shows up, the customer plugs it in, and they can get to work. Sure, you’ll need to share general site requirements with the customer for power, data connectivity, and other small issues, but you will avoid anything else being added to the system, such as additional applications that may steal system resources from your software and impact its function and performance.
With software-only or virtual appliances there are many variables to plan for. You’re not in control of the customer’s exact hardware, the operating system and configuration, or the system setup. This can result in mis-specced or mis-configured hardware or added applications that cause your software to run inefficiently.
Short- and long-term system administration is the responsibility of the customer, and as it’s not in your control, a wrong turn may negatively impact the performance of your product and create an unsatisfactory end user experience. Are you sure you want to leave these choices and responsibilities–which will directly affect your software’s performance–to your customers?
2. Lower Development Costs
When you deploy your software on a hardware appliance, you have complete control over its installation and can develop your technology for a single deployment option, which is much simpler and cost effective than developing for a variety of different deployment scenarios. Simply put, if you’re deploying on a dedicated appliance with preconfigured hardware, you will spend less time and money by not developing for multiple deployment scenarios and the innumerable challenges that may arise under those systems. With limited deployment scenarios, you will also spend less time and money developing knowledge bases for your customers and support team.
3. Lower Support Costs
With homogeneous product and deployment environments for a dedicated appliance, it eliminates issues that are outside your control. Support calls will be a lot more focused and predictable and save your support team a significant amount of time. You will not get questions about setting up the hardware, general configuration, etc.
If you don’t have control over how your software is deployed, it’s likely that you will experience more support issues trying to solve your customers’ hardware issues.You might experience scenarios where a customer claims your product is performing subpar, only to find out through support cycles that they overlooked a hardware requirement such as not buying the appropriate CPU speed or amount of RAM. This will eat up your support team’s time and productivity.
4. Better Brand Recognition
You have multiple opportunities to build your brand when you deploy on a dedicated appliance. Having your branded appliance in a customer’s office or data center is an excellent visual reminder of your high-performance product compared to software running on some generic hardware, out of sight, out of mind. Not only is the appliance fully brandable, but the packaging the system ships in can also be custom designed. The excitement your customer experiences opening the box with your new product inside is almost palpable, and you can brand everything from the box itself to the system’s faceplate, ports, handles, and more.
5. Easier to Sell a “Solution in a Box”
Selling a hardware appliance allows you to assess the needs of the customer and make sure you have them on the correct appliance platform, which is much simpler than other scenarios. The customer makes the purchase, the appliance is shipped and received, it’s plugged in, and it’s up and running quickly. There is less work that goes into the customer’s research and decision as to whether or not your software will work with their systems and less persuasion needed on your part. Instead, customers can rest easy knowing that all they need to do is plug and play, making your solution the obvious choice for their needs.
Plus, selling a complete solution provides a much better experience for your customers, who are in a position to endorse your brand. A dedicated server appliance that increases the software’s performance is a more effective and efficient system than a software-only solution that can steal resources from the customer’s network.
6. Less Overall Risk
Deploying on a preconfigured hardware appliance managed by an OEM partner requires less work on your part to develop, deploy and support your product. It also requires less effort by your customers to actually acquire, set up and use your product long term. It will perform better for them because the appliance is optimized for your software and less vulnerable to mishaps beyond your control, and they have a single point of contact for any issues, which streamlines resolution.
Demand for dedicated appliances has grown, and it is expected to continue. If you’re not using the hardware appliance model, or not reaping the benefits I’ve described, you know where to find us.