My wife loves shopping – even for food; I don’t, but we need to get it done. Because we’re both busy with our jobs, we tend to do one big shop at the start of the month, to get much of what we need for the month. For the most part, that means the dry foods like pasta and crackers and breakfast cereal, the long-expiry refrigerated items like butter, eggs and some fresh fruit and veggies, as well as canned and frozen foods. This leaves us with only a few runs to the corner store during the month for short-expiry items like milk and bread.
Wouldn’t it be great if you walked up to the supermarket, and the month’s food was ready for you in a shopping cart, without actually walking up and down the isles? I think so! To be fair though, it might not be the best since someone else is making the buying decisions for you, and may not know exactly what you like. If they select fruit that you don’t like, you’ll probably not eat it, and it will sit there in the fridge indefinitely. Same for those meat cuts that you don’t like, even if they’re expensive.
And this scenario reminds me of a scenario in which I find many of my customers. They have needs, but are hamstrung by product bundling. Let me explain.
Each and every month an IT organization’s selection of vendor tools and solutions basically stays the same. Where there are new tools in use, in many cases they may not be the best tool for the job. In some cases there are tools that you don’t need or never asked for. When your role is identifying what could help your team with performance optimization, and you spend months evaluation multiple solutions, only to find that you’ve been saddled with a completely different tool, it can be very frustrating.
But how does this happen? Well many large vendors build product bundles – they buy up or re-name obsolete tools and package them in with one of your current toolsets. Now the bundle may very well include several important tools that you use every day, but also includes tools that you would never use.
When new datacenter challenges arise, you naturally go through an evaluation process to determine what solutions can best address these challenges. That can end up costing months of effort and thousands of dollars, but at the end, you’ve identified the best tool for the job.
Then, when you propose the solution to vendor management, the response might be “ah we have something similar to that on the shelf over here, it’s been there years.” So now the situation is that not only have you wasted your team’s time on the evaluation, but you’ve also ended up with an outdated, underperforming, or inappropriate tool, that you may never actually use!
Worse, the vendor may actually enable the undesired tool in the bundle, and your IT organization would now be paying for a tool which you can’t use, or which can’t effectively solve the technical challenges in the datacenter.
So how do you solve this problem?
The product purchase process needs to change. We need to work closer with vendor management to get our shopping cart filled with what we actually need, as opposed to what the vendor wants us to buy. Freebee, throw-away or unneeded products included in a bundle are worth nothing; they do not increase the value to the IT organization. The process needs to be as simple as buying food at the grocery store – you buy what you want and what you need, and you never buy what you don’t want or need.