Editorial: Of primary concern

Editorial: Of primary concern

There is a misnomer in the IT industry, created by greedy analysts and propagated by ignorant journalists, that suggests deploying a piecemeal solution over a single vendor solution will get you the best results.

At least, this is what some rather large vendors want us to believe.

For years it has been commonly asserted that you ought to search around for the best technologies for each part of an IT solution and not get “locked in” to one vendor’s product strategy.

But senior executives from some of the world’s largest vendors have told me over the past fortnight that this myth has to be exposed and turned on its head. Times must truly be tough.

Both executives advocated a primary vendor strategy, by which an organisation evaluated the technologies of all the major players, and chose whichever had the best overall solution. The organisation then relied on that primary vendor to help it choose any pieces of the puzzle that were still missing.

The vendors claim that this will save you money because the costs of integration, of the procurement pro­cess and of managing multiple vendor relationships are higher than what you might save if you chose otherwise.

At a recent Cisco briefing, newly-appointed managing director, Ross Fowler, said that Cisco had committed — on a global level — to promoting a primary vendor strategy among its customers.

I would suggest that Cisco wants to market that message in order to prevent the plethora of “Cisco-replacement” products, such as those created under the 3Com-Huawei joint venture, from gaining traction in networks that primarily feature Cisco gear.

In its attempts to convince the market of the virtues of a primary vendor strategy, Cisco recently commissioned research company Sage to determine which approach performs better and costs less for the customer.

The analysts claim that out of several hundred US organisations surveyed, those that partnered with a primary vendor (as opposed to adopting a “piecemeal” approach) were able to reduce their costs by 29 per cent per year.

Oracle Australia’s new channel manager, Norman Weaver, took it one step further. He said that analyst groups had only ever advocated the “piecemeal” approach to suit their own needs. If an organisation partnered with a primary vendor first and foremost, there was less need to hire analysts to evaluate the various competing technologies available on the market in order to piece together the right solution. Advocating a primary vendor strategy could just about put an analyst out of a job.

By that rationale, one can also see why the IT press would be as enamoured by the “piecemeal” approach as their analyst cousins. One of the most important roles of the IT press is to evaluate technologies and technology-related choices on behalf of their readers. If its readers’ technology decisions were virtually pre-determined by their primary vendor partners, those reviews suddenly don’t pull as much weight.

The ramifications for the IT channel are equally as serious. If organisations rely on the advice of their primary software vendor or primary hardware vendor, the need for resellers to advise customers on technology solutions and the need for systems integrators to put them together begins to become redundant.

Regardless of what analysts and journalists think, it’s the customer that will decide at the end of the day. But the IT channel better be prepared to state its case for vendor neutrality if it wants to survive in its present format. What do you think?

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