The Green Computing Vanguard
Supermicro’s Charles Liang
Recognizing the huge potential of the Asian market, Supermicro established a Taiwanese factory in 2012 and enlarged it in 2019. This highly efficient green production capacity came online in 2021, wowing the world and reaffirming Taiwan’s strength as an exporter within the Asia-Pacific region.
The hard work behind “luck”
“I’ve always thought of myself as lucky,” says Charles Liang, who serves as Supermicro’s president and CEO. His broad and genuine smile belies a history of long hours and difficult challenges. “Nobody thought much of our chances when we started the company in 1993, but I stuck to my guns.” Liang left a teaching job at his alma mater in the 1980s to pursue his ambitions in Silicon Valley. “Back then, competition in the industry was all price-based, but I believed that quality was the way forward.” He founded Supermicro with his wife (Sara Liu) and his good friend Wally Liaw. “Fortunately, we were able to turn a profit in just six months.”
“I’ve always had great confidence in the company’s technology.” And Supermicro has always striven to further refine its products to ensure they are the best they can possibly be. “It’s easier to promote your products when you can satisfy the pickiest of customers.” Supermicro serves Silicon Valley’s technology leaders, and Liang believes that these customers’ most demanding and unreasonable requests push his team to up its game. “We really surprised major American manufacturers in 1995 by introducing the world’s first dual-CPU motherboard for servers, and then following it up with the first four-CPU server board.” A plainspoken man from southern Taiwan, Liang has a never-surrender attitude that has earned the respect of his peers.
Supermicro built its business and reputation on a range of low-volume bespoke services. By 2012, its highly regarded customized high-end servers had made it the third largest company in the world in terms of server and network storage device market share.
“We try to be fast on our feet.” Liang explains that Supermicro has succeeded over its rivals in part because its efficient execution gives its products first-mover advantage. The company enhances its efficiency and speeds product delivery by using a building-block architecture. This approach not only helps Supermicro quickly meet customers’ needs, but also greatly reduces those customers’ hardware costs by enabling them to swap out modular components like Lego bricks. “Components have different useful lives. Modularity lets you replace parts that have failed without replacing the whole.” It also reduces electronic waste, which is good for the environment. Quick to recognize the wave of environmental awareness sweeping the globe, Supermicro positioned itself in the environmental vanguard by committing to sustainability. With other major international server manufacturers now also moving towards sustainability, the trend will be unstoppable.