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I need a server. I have an install of a new enterprise software program scheduled for January 23rd and 24th and I need a server.

Professionally and personally, I've always leaned towards Gateway computers. That's just personal preference. My dad shopped for value better than anyone I've know and he ended up with a Gateway. Of course, that was a few years ago - back when they were Gateway 2000. But since the turn of the century (Jan 1st, 2001), they've dropped the 2000 and just gone by Gateway. But no matter what the name, I've used them for years and had no problems with them. Until today.

My company finally pulled the trigger on purchasing a new software system for their company. This is to replace the VAX/VMS MAXCIM system that they've had for the past 19 years. Once that was finallized, I put in an order for a database server to be a home for the new system on January 9th. It was a pretty nice one too. Dual processor Xeon with 1 GB of memory. Mirrored 48 GB hard drives. The Gateway salesperson, Bob said there would be "no problem" to get it delivered to Rhode Island by January 21st. This was my 3rd salesperson in the past 12 months. That should have been my clue that things were not the same at Gateway. They've reorganized their inhouse sales support a couple of times this year. So everytime I call for a person, someone else has taken over their accounts.

Anyway, "Bob" says that it would be no problem. I keep checking the Gateway website for the status of my system. Finally on Monday the 20th, I call Bob to make sure that the system was being shipped. I can't reach Bob. But the customer service drone tells me that the system was on backorder and could be delivered by February 4th. Excellent, but what am I gonna tell the consultant who wants to install the software? I press a little more to find out what the problem is. If they don't have a certain CD Drive or a different hard drive spec, I'll swap it out for something they DO have in stock. The customer service woman tells me that her screen tells her "system labels". WTF? Wha? I'm waiting for LABLES to be printed? I ask for Bob to call me back as soon as possible.

Now I have to scramble. I check all my other sources for systems. None of them have servers with the specs I want available to ship that day. So I pull out the phone book. The phone book! The way business used to be done. I haven't picked a vendor out of a phone book in about 10 years. I check under Computer Hardware and there is a listing for a company that is two doors down from my kid's daycare. I always thought they sold cash registers. I call them up and the guy tells me he can have a Compaq ProLiant Xeon server with 1 GB RAM and (2) 36 GB hard drives available for me to pickup tomorrow afternoon. Ok, so the RAID 1 mirroring I'll have to do through Windows 2000 Server because they can't get their hands on a RAID controller card. A knock on performance but it's better than losing all your data because of a drive failure. Besides, I can get a RAID controller card later and change the config then. I place the order and plan to pick up ther server tomorrow afternoon.

Then Bob calls me back and tells me that he can definately have the server shipped to me for Wednesday the 24th. Ok. I'll take a chance. I'd like to have the Gateway server because it's the same configuration as my other two servers. But at the same time I'm going up to RI on the 24th and only have one day to install Windows 2000 server (along with all patches and Service Packs) and SQL Server 2000. If I have to wait for UPS to deliver the server, I'll lose a big chunk of the day before I can get my hands on it. We'll see how this shakes out.