Friday, October 13, 2006

bargain shopping :: a recent Dell PowerEdge server purchase

My company needed to buy a Dell PowerEdge 6850. As the only systems engineer and the resident tough-nose bargainer, I was tasked to find a good deal and fast. I ended up buying a "certified refurbished" from Dell Outlet for about $5700. The specs are like:
  • quad Xeon 3.66GHZ/1M
  • 16G DDR2 ECC RAM (2G chips)
  • 2x 146G drive (in RAID1) + 3x 300G drive (in RAID5). Ultra320 scsi, 10K RPM
  • rapid rails
  • CDRW/DVD ROM combo + floppy drive
  • dual power supply
  • RAC card
  • 3-year NBD warranty (bronze)
  • ship the next day.
The viable options I had were:
  • $13,000, for a brand-new from Dell Business. Drives are smaller: 2x73G + 3x146G drive. ship in two weeks or so. no RAC card.
  • $8,900, used, from an eBay store. 90-days warranty and no rails. no RAC card.
  • $8,500, new, from yet another eBay store. 3-year NBD (till March 2009), with quad 3.16GHZ/1M Xeon CPU. ship in a week. no RAC card.
  • NA, from two local VARs. After a few days of hunting for a Dell (with enough profit margin, I guess), they started asking me whether a Compaq can be quoted instead.
For the Dell Outlet purchase itself,
  • Initially I thought it's hard to cut the red tape (PO, approval, and stuff) fast enough to close the deal online. Fortunately, I talked to a Dell representative. He told me I could simply email/phone him of my pick so he can take it offline and hold for me for a few days. How nice!
  • On top of that, I asked for 'best offer' from Dell Outlet, saying that I had quotations roughly $2k under Dell's price for a similar server. Similar alright, the quotations had slower CPU, or smaller HDD, or less denser RAM chips, or lesser days in warranty, or all the above. It is a small bluff :) The fellow said he'd check with his people. Next thing you know, he came back the next day and slashed the online price by $1977. With that, I had no hesitation whatsoever to ink the deal right away, before it disappears!
The lesson I took from this round of bargain shopping is "Do your homework". Know how much they differ before you even ask for a quotation. Don't overlook or dismiss too quickly the value of bigger GB/RPMs/Cache of the drives, bigger density of the memory chips, bigger GHZ/cache of CPUs, since they can cost you dearly enough to shift a nice-looking quotation from a bargain to a bargain look-like! Like they say, details kill.

1 comment:

Barry said...

Your colors are much better.
You are a great negotiator, too bad we never bought anything at your old place.