Appliance platforms--plug-and-play servers built with specific applications in mind and come equipped with hardware, applications software, an operating system, and more —are steadily gaining popularity among independent software vendors as the deployment method of choice for bringing software to customer sites. And as such, there has been an increase in demand among independent software vendors looking for partners with the engineering capability to both build and maintain said servers.
Three things are critical to watch for when looking for a partner to launch an appliance deployment program: engineering control / manufacturing quality, logistics / tech support / training, and program management.
Having a proper handle on engineering control and manufacturing quality means a partner will already have in place best-practice systems to easily incorporate the most vital aspects of design, integration and management. Issues like regulatory matters, certification requirements and the like are already familiar to companies with proper engineering controls, ensuring that the appliance in place is going to be the best one for the job on as many fronts as possible.
But even the best job done in engineering can still have unexpected flaws. Accidents, unexpected breakdowns, or the like can ruin a company's entire platform. It is thus important for the partner to also have a firm grasp of logistics, technical support and training. Being able to not only fix any problems that emerge, but also to provide training so that customers can practice best practices of their own in terms of preventative maintenance can also pay dividends in making appliance deployment a better, smoother operation and more effective overall.
Lastly, program management is vital to the success of any hardware appliance strategy. Essentially, if the business going after a hardware appliance isn't assigned its own account manager, it should seriously consider looking elsewhere for that appliance. Without that important liaison step, the likelihood that small problems will be intercepted early and kept from turning into big problems is significantly less.
So with these three points in mind, a business considering the hardware appliance approach should have the best chance of finding a hardware appliance provider to complete the job successfully and ensure the appliance’s continued effectiveness over time.