Last month’s news that IBM would do a Hewlett-Packard and divide into two—an IT consultancy and a buzzword compliance unit—marks the end of “business as usual” for yet another of the great workstation companies.
There really isn’t much left when it comes to proper workstations. All the major players left the market, have been shut down, or have been bought out (and shut down) – Sun, IBM, SGI, and countless others. Of course, some of them may still make workstations in the sense of powerful Xeon machines, but workstations in the sense of top-to-bottom custom architecture, like SGI’s crossbar switch technology and all the custom architectures us mere mortals couldn’t afford, are no longer being made in large numbers.
And it shows. Go on eBay to try and get your hand on a used and old SGI or Sun workstation, and be prepared to pay out of your nose for highly outdated and effectively useless hardware. The number of these machines still on the used market is dwindling, and with no new machines entering the used market, it’s going to become ever harder for us enthusiasts to get our hands on these sorts of exciting machines.
I think the author is mistaken, the VAR business model never went away.
He also has it backwards; workstations went the way of the dodo, because cobbling something together out of PCs was not only cheaper but really far less painful at the end of the day.