How much of a difference is there between the storage buying habits of the IT managers who run midsized IT shops and the buying habits of their counterparts running large enterprise IT environments? Quite a bit.
I frequently speak with managers from both sides of the fence and I find that although they have a common set of problems they often take a noticeably different approach to solving them.
The common problems (they are in all likelihood nearly identical to yours, and certainly extend to all sizes of business) are the usual suspects:
- Shortened maintenance windows.
- More and more data to protect.
- Limited budgets.
- Fears about how secure their stored data really is.
- Concerns that they may only be able to recover 30% to 50% of the data they have spent so much time backing up.
- Concerns regarding disaster recovery and business continuity.
- Concerns about ... well, chances are you all know the litany by heart anyway, so why belabor the point.
Enterprise buyers seem better able to buy according to a long-term strategy, although "long-term" in this case may mean only four quarters. Because of this, they often also look for an integrated solution, a set of problem-solvers that all fit within the same management framework, are integrated with one another, interoperable, and can be remotely managed from a central point.
Managers in mid-tier environments often tend to look for point solutions that solve specific problems. These managers are often very close to the immediate problem they are dealing with, and are continually fighting off the alligators near at hand with little bandwidth to worry about draining the swamp. Thus, they have a more event-driven buying pattern.
The nice part about buying point solutions is that you have an opportunity to buy best-in-class products (if you really believe there is such a thing). The difficulty with buying point solutions however is that because they are purchased serially, over time, they often become a string of uncoordinated products that may well solve a number of immediate problems but do not play together particularly well. Hence the storage management problem that many of you have today.
There is an area of crossover between enterprise and mid-tier buying habits, however. When purchasing authority at a large enterprise is deployed out to individual business units or to departments within a company (the R&D group wants to maintain its own systems, for instance), such groups may well display the buying habits of mid-sized companies.
All this is intended as food for thought for the vendors. Know your prospects' buying habits and you are more likely to be able to put together a solution that can turn a prospect into a client.