Supermicro Looks at 20 Years

CEO Charles Liang says stability, a wide range of products, and a willingness to work with partners are key to Supermicro's winning strategy. By ChannelPro

Today's businesses are looking for “the best performance per watt and the best performance per dollar” stresses Charles Liang, the founder of server technology provider Super Micro Computer Inc. (Supermicro). The ability to deliver that in a complete, end-to-end solution is what differentiates Supermicro from its competitors, says Liang, who has served as president, CEO, and chairman of the board at the San Jose, Calif.-based company since its inception in September 1993.

In the wake of rapid technological change, an increasingly competitive business climate, and what Liang calls the “economic tsunami” of a few years ago, organizations want an integrated solution from a trusted provider at an affordable price. “Ten years ago people might buy a motherboard and chassis and integrate them. But now people need optimization and reliability,” he says. “I believe the channel and systems integrators are interested to work with someone who offers a complete solution so they can serve their customers.”

Supermicro provides end-to-end green computing solutions for enterprise IT, data center, cloud computing, Hadoop/big data, HPC, and embedded systems. Supermicro's Building Block Solutions offer modular, interoperable components that include servers, blades, GPU systems, workstations, motherboards, chassis, power supplies, storage technologies, networking solutions, battery backup power, software, and cabinets/accessories.

Liang says Supermicro has grown and been profitable every year since its founding, with sales today exceeding $1 billion. He attributes this to understanding what the customer needs and meeting those needs with innovation. For example, in 2007 Supermicro rolled out the Double-Density 1U Twin servers, “providing computing density,” he says. The same year the company held an IPO and started trading on the NASDAQ. That was followed in 2009 with it 2U Twin Servers. And in Q3 of 2012 the company launched its Fat Twin architecture that expands compute and storage capacities to achieve increased performance with lower power consumption.

He also cites the company's 2 million+ square foot Science & Technology Park and advanced integration facility in Taiwan. “We are able to support big data centers and big cloud players for those people who need cost-sensitive support. … From our efficient R&D model and our efficient operation I believe the future is just so bright, so solid.”

Understanding the channel and the small to medium businesses it serves has also been a driver of growth for Supermicro, he says. It's not the just the big data centers and big cloud companies that need optimized performance and reliability at a lower cost, but “small and medium-size companies are asking for that. People need a product that's user friendly, one that they can power on without too much effort. It's very important for the channel players to get the solutions they deserve and need.”

With technology changing so fast, customers have a harder time putting components together. “You can buy a complete solution from us, or just buy parts, but when you put them together they're already optimized,” he says.

Bigger competitors like IBM, HP, and Dell “can't afford to service those [SMB] customers; they're too complicated and too small,” says Liang. “Some other players from offshore try to service this market but their business model is different. They do not have the experience to work with the channel and SIs. It's not an easy job.”

Liang says the company's inventory control and logistics also make it easy for the channel to partner with Supermicro. “That's why we have so many chassis, memory, hard drives, etc. We make sure they don't have a shortage, and we make sure they have fast time to market. We grow with the channel; we appreciate our partners. We are happy to grow with old friends and new friends.”