The market of used servers in Russia: it all started with Habr

Greetings, username! Today I’ll tell you one entertaining story about our manysufferinglarge Russian market. I am one of the co-founders of a used server company. And we will talk about the B2B equipment market. I'll start with a grunt: “I remember how our market walked under the table …” And now he is celebrating his first anniversary (5 years after all), so he wanted to indulge in nostalgia slightly and tell how it all began.

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How it all started, username

Sales of used servers in Russia started relatively recently (below there is an answer why). We met the start of these sales, as usual, with skepticism and distrust. However, the economic crisis of those years (the ruble made several sharp dives against the dollar and the euro at the end of 2014) drove demand, and the development of the subject went by leaps and bounds.

In general, the market for used professional computing equipment originated in the United States as far back as the 80s, but rapid growth arose in the early crisis 2000s (the time of the “dotcom collapse”). In Russia, it all started a little later, because since the beginning of the century, IT services of domestic companies have often lived on the principle of “we are too poor to buy cheap” (well, or we had our own “collective farm” as server capacity). In 2014-2015, at that “unforgettable time”, when the dollar doubled – and import prices, too, all this gave the necessary impetus to the development of the used equipment market in the country.

In the first 3 years, demand grew rapidly and tirelessly. For clarity, we turn to the numbers. In 2015, our turnover amounted to 20 million rubles per year, in 2016 – already 90 million, and in 2017 – 143 million per year. Thus, in three years he has grown 7 times, Karl!

By the way, Habr also made a significant contribution to the development of the market back in 2015. At that time, posts began to appear here about both the used market and the market for remanufactured equipment, which aroused strong interest in the topic of “new life” for the used hardware.

The market for used servers is predominantly represented by companies that buy server equipment from data centers, providing quick sales of hardware removed from the balance, and consumers receive a rather high level of productivity with a significant reduction in costs.

A year after the start of the business, we posted an article here with a story about the value of used equipment and immediately sold all stock, and pre-orders flew up from above … If in numbers, only our turnover in that month increased 6 times! And we think that the “wave” has hooked not only our company.

Numbers, sister, numbers!

The co-founder of our company is a girl, and she is responsible for market analytics. Below are a few market introductions from her:

one.SEGMENTS. The market for used equipment can be roughly divided into two segments: platforms and components. In different years, demand for them varied greatly. In 2016, 61% of sales fell on platforms, in 2017 – demand for these two positions was almost equal (platforms – 47%, components – 53%), the year turned out to be transitional, as already 2018 became the exact opposite of the 16th – 38% of sales were on platforms and 62% on components, and the trend is in favor of components. By 2020, we expect another imbalance in the market structure. According to data for 10 months of 2019, the share of components is now 70%, and next year it will be up to 80%, and 20% – the share of platforms.

The reason is this: in order for platforms of past years to show performance comparable to modern servers, users have to buy top-end processors of previous generations, the price of which often exceeds the cost of the server platform itself.

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Chart 1. Sales structure by years

2. SEASONS. It should be noted seasonality of the market. Demand increases in March and October, and in summer, as in most markets, there is a sharp decline. At the end of the year, growing demand clearly correlates with the desire to “master” the remnants of annual budgets. So for Halloween, the market is regularly hot. In March – apparently, in anticipation of the “potato” and, again, the end of the fiscal year for companies that do not keep records for a calendar year, they buy up a used server for quick commissioning.

3. STOPPER. The issue of selling used equipment is inextricably linked with accounting, because it has to be deducted from the balance sheet after the expiration of its useful life. And in our market there was a straightforward typical laziness of accounting – it was easier to write off. As a result, large companies in 2015 often could not sell their used assets, skipping the moment of sale at the residual value and “falling” already at the disposal costs. Unfortunately, today the picture is the same.

We hope that this will soon change – more large companies will come to the market, ready to supply equipment for large-scale sales. And through the prism of the current ecological boom (hi Grete) it is still more beautiful: longer service life – less disposal. Small and medium-sized businesses also benefit from this – you can use used equipment of excellent quality for little money. And let’s not forget about the proceeds of equipment suppliers – the profit is always better than the write-off costs.

Stop stop. And who needs it at all?

Far from the topic of the market of used equipment, the question could already mature: “Where is the money? Who specifically takes entire racks of used servers? ”

According to our internal statistics, it is clear that the main consumers in the market are hosting providers (23% of our market works for them), followed by system integrators (14%), then demand is generated by companies in the field of software development (8%), media ( 6%), retailers (5%). The rest of the market (almost 44%) is divided between manufacturing and wholesale companies, Internet providers, construction companies (yes, they need their server rooms, at least for architectural bureaus), corporate resellers, online stores. And, not surprisingly, most of them are concentrated in Moscow and St. Petersburg, although the rest of the regions, as the diagram illustrates, are not aloof.

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Chart 2. Geography of sales by federal districts of Russia. Capitals prevail.

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Chart 3. Specialization of clients by industry. IT companies give heat.

And again, "dug up the stewardess." Not everything was smooth

Actually, the entry of used server equipment to the market was met by far from the wide open arms of IT specialists, as it might seem, and even now it is not easy. The first thing we and our competitors are faced with is the problem of trust. Oddly enough, it must be conquered!

Often the dialogue with large hosting companies came to phrases from the series “used – we don’t need”. “You are restoring the server!” – a rather insulting accusation was made against the technical process of blowing (literally) a thin layer of dust from the cases and boards, testing and packaging of workable “hardware”. However, the topic with ref has nothing to do with us.

“Ref”, from refurbishment, is called a product as the result of the restoration of damaged “iron” at the factory by block replacement

We absolutely understand the distrust that arises with any used thing, especially when it comes to expensive equipment, and that is why we (and many competitors subsequently) introduced a “chip” with a free test. For two weeks, our customers could work for free with the server. The main way to the hearts of customers has become a common position in our sphere regarding the guarantee (as a rule, it exceeds the guarantee of the manufacturers themselves) and the problem-free exchange on demand with virtually no verification. Thanks again to the practice of the Petersburg “Firm RIK”, which was actively selling and without question changing the components of the PC all “zero”.

The second problem was the negligence of suppliers. Their senseless and merciless concern for technology sometimes made our eyes bleed. (Impressive not to read!)

Case 1. We work with the States, and they pack the memory we deliver in an antistatic box with a slot for each bar. Chic, shine, beauty. And how did the first delivery come from a large Russian company? It turned out that they prefer to pour “a little memory” into the box … After this incident, we drafted packing and quality control instructions.

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Case 2. In one of the largest data centers of the Russian Federation, servers were freed. For lack of a balcony, the owners decided to store the servers in an open warehouse. On the sand. Under the snow. Only part on pallets. We just shrugged and left.

And you had to explain to domestic suppliers what is neat and careful?

And yes, it is because of such stories that we prefer to buy equipment from Western suppliers.

Thanks Mark, we are ready! China exit

The state of the market for used servers at the end of 2019 is “the baby has grown, the picture in the overseas needs to be updated.” Hosters are no longer squeamish about new Chinese equipment, accustomed to its prices, but still glance toward the "Americans."

Hosters are “full”, accustomed to currency prices and can afford to buy new equipment. At one time, SuperMicro 6016 servers (now obsolete) flooded the market, and the operating costs (OPEX) associated with it are increasing against the background of the current wave of equipment generations, as old "iron" consumes significantly more electricity and needs more efficient cooling than new models. However, in the USA the time is right for another wave of “new” used equipment from large companies to appear on the market, which is good news.

A piece of ILV and an uncertain future

However, the main question of the “baby” on the eve of the 5th anniversary: ​​“Why do I need my own server?” There are “cloud” hosting services. The answer is simple: risks. But the risks associated with migrating to cloud hosting remain when you see several disappearing nines of 99.999% promised during the sale of SLA for several hours … Competitors have appeared, but our company is in the top five largest players covering 80% of market demand.

We are aware that the “Spring Law" will in any case continue to be the engine of our business in the niche of used servers and generate demand. That awkward moment when this law is on hand. “Parents” and other “guardians” are still broadcasting to the market: “Buy your server. It’s safer, son. ” You don’t have to go far for an example of an adjacent risk – remember the “battle” of Roskomnadzor with Telegram. It simply blocked everything that came to hand, from outside the Runet. Damage from downtime was sometimes just [censored]… Ah, this eternal “we can repeat” from ILV … Here are small and medium-sized businesses and acquired local file storages.

We are looking forward to the mass arrival of comrades with government procurement contracts on the market. Their number is still small, which is probably due to the not always correct interpretation of FZ-44. In fact, not all government purchases involve the purchase of exclusively new equipment, so there are still opportunities to reduce the excessively inflated budget to where it is very obvious.

Summing up, it is clear what to expect from the future, what to prepare for, but how the market as a whole will develop – one can only guess. In the meantime, do not store the server like our failed provider – on a pallet under the snow. Servers are the hardware of a fine microcontroller organization; they will not forgive.

P.S .: An interesting fact – used servers have shown themselves to be more reliable than new ones (at least if we use statistics on warranty claims). The explanation is simple – everything that can hypothetically break down in the server fails in the first year of operation. Accordingly, it changes immediately (under the manufacturer's warranty) even before resale. “Second-hand breaks less often than new” – such an oxymoron, username;)

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