Every time I sell a server to a client, I always hear him crying about the CDROM reader: “it’s only 24x and it costs 150$”, they say. Yes, that’s true. It’s expensive. It’s slow.

Why? Good question. I do not know a single IT worker who does not wonder the same question.

Most people say Sun, IBM, HP, etc bought those slow CDROM drives in the thousands years ago and now they have a pile of slow drives and they must sell them using any means. Well, sorry, but I don’t buy that hypothesis. Should that be true, the CDROM drive would be 15$ instead of 150$. After all, wasn’t your theory Sun wanted to get rid of those drives? Then they should sell them very cheap, even at a loss! (last week I bought 100 USB Logitech ball mice with the HP logo at 0.74 EUR/piece; that’s exactly what I mean when I say “even at a loss”)

Today I came up with a better hypothesis on why servers ship with slow CDROM drives.: you have to blame the CDROM media (the disk itself).

“WTF!?”, you are thinking now.

Let me explain.

When you buy a CDROM drive for a server, you will usually employ it only twice: when installing the operating system and when installing a driver you need before you have an Internet connection. That’s exactly twice, so you won’t care if it works at 24x or at 52x. In case you didn’t know, 52x is the technology limit for CDROM drives, otherwise you couldn’t read it properly because pitches are too small in the media.

Did you notice the emphasis in “you couldn’t read it properly”? That’s the key for my hypothesis on why servers ship with slow CDROM drives. Our world is loaded with crap CDROM media.

A lot of software vendors and IT people use crappy XinXunXao CDs instead of Verbatim CDs because they are a full cent cheaper! (wow, what a huge savings). Well, the problem is XinXunXao CDs are crap and if you try to read them at, say, 32x they will probably fail and you will be reading a 0 when you should have read a 1.

Now comes the interesting part: Sun, HP, IBM are not responsible for you (or your software vendor) to be using XinXunXao CDs. After all, they did not choose to use XinXunXao instead of Verbatim and their advice would be to use Verbatim! The problem is when the US $4000 IBM server you have just bought does not read that XinXunXao CDs at 32x or 48x, most probably you are going to blame IBM and that’s bad for them.

So what could IBM do? Easy, IBM sells you a 24x CD so you cannot read a CDs faster than 24x. Now IBM can rest sure even those XinXinXao CDs will work flawlessly and you will be happy.

Summary: as you might be using bad-quality CD media, IBM sells you a slow CD for you to be able to read even the worst-quality CD with it. They are fixing a problem they did not cause.

PS: On related news, 90% of the times I sell a server with Windows, clients also complain about the Windows Server license fees. But that’d be another post

2 Thoughts on “Why do servers ship with slow CDROM readers?

  1. smartidiot on Tuesday 16th May 2006 at 12:15:07 said:

    Did you ever think to ask why you’re charing $150 for a CDRom that’s worth at most $30 in any retail level box? I don’t think the speed is the issue here. I think the issue is idiotic markups.

  2. We don’t use Cdroms on most of our new servers. They are all Blades, deploy them with RDP, maybe use a virtual cdrom form out workstation if at all. They all come with cdroms though.
    A couple hundred servers times 30 bucks is not small change.

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