How do you pick an IT vendor to trust? - Brian Madden - BrianMadden.com
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How do you pick an IT vendor to trust?

Written on Jul 23 2013 118,196 views, 7 comments


by Brian Madden

Oracle's decision to shut down their VDI group last week got me thinking about how we select IT vendors and how we choose which ones to trust. It's ironic that one of the things we always said about Oracle was, "Well, at least they're Oracle, so you know they'll be around forever." We said this in the context of choosing Oracle VDI or Sun Ray thin clients versus picking a product from a smaller vendor. But clearly this shows (yet again) that even the big vendors can kill products on a whim, even as all the marketing folks are talking about how strong the company's commitment to their product line is. (To be clear, I don't think the Oracle marketing folks were lying. It's just that a mid-level marketing person at a huge company isn't really in a position of authority to "assure" anyone of his or her group's continued existence.)

This issue is so much bigger than Oracle. I literally cannot count how many times someone from a vendor—I'm not talking about some field sales rep; I mean some corporate higher up—has committed that a product has a future or won't be forgotten, only for that product to end up dead. I mean think about Citrix. They buy a product, talk about how amazing it is, bundle the license into some platinum something, then let it wither as they chase something newer and shinier. (To wit: XenServer. Provisioning Server. EdgeSight. RingCube. XenClient. Web Interface. User Profile Manager. App Streaming... Okay, maybe I took some liberties there, but you get the point.)

So I wonder: What can you do to minimize the chances that a vendor won't kill a product that you've built your solution around? Any tricks or tips to share? How do you select vendors in general. Does they old adage "No one ever got fired for buying IBM" still apply? (Heck, I've used that phrase myself when talking about Citrix for desktop virtualization and VMware for infrastructure.)

To be clear, I'm not saying that vendors shouldn't be allowed to kill products. And yeah, boo-hoo, stuff happens. Rather I'm asking if it's possible to choose vendors or products that aren't as likely to get killed. How can you pick products as a customer?

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Comments

Claudio Rodrigues wrote re: How do you pick an IT vendor to trust?
on Tue, Jul 23 2013 1:43 PM Link To This Comment

That is a great question and a tough one to answer. In a certain way, my own experience as someone that started a small company that ended up with huge customers, I would say betting everything on the big ones is risky as they tend to acquire many other companies/technologies and when they think it is time to let it go they simply shutdown that product. Citrix is a great example of that. To top it off they make it seem all acquisitions were the best thing they could have ever done and in many cases these turn out to be a pile of ***. EdgeSight is a great example of that. Gives way too much useless info and is a resource hog. Not to mention it is as stable as Francium or my wife when she is under PSM after having a bottle of wine and smoking weed.

If you go too small then the question is will they be there next year? Next week?

Probably the safest bets are in the middle size space. No money to acquire crap, no big risks trying to redesign a product from scratch and with a good customer base that keeps them in business.

Pretty much what we were back in 2005.

My two cents. Others will agree and certainly way more "others" will disagree. LOL

CR

Totie Bash wrote re: How do you pick an IT vendor to trust?
on Tue, Jul 23 2013 2:53 PM Link To This Comment

Great probing question, I believe that there is no magic formula here.  One important trait that will go a long way is "Discernment" and this can only be attained when you are well in tune with the latest trend and that you follow IT community.  I picked VMware View for our VDI.  The next vendor on my list was Citrix and scary thought Pano Logic was in my top 5, Microsoft  was the last on my list due to lack of faith (may be if Microsoft relax the licensing).  Ultimatately I chose VMware View mainly because of the Teradici PCOIP zero client.  I figured that so many big name company invest in manufacturing Teradici  zero client so they must have seen something good, right? competition will also drive the cost down.  Second thing I like about VMware is that they are fast to come up with patches and feature release, which implies that it is actively being developed.  Simplicity is another one.  There are others but those are the main ones.  

Douglas Brown wrote re: How do you pick an IT vendor to trust?
on Wed, Jul 24 2013 4:46 PM Link To This Comment

I think you asked a very good question and make very good points but I don’t think XenClient should be added to this list.  Citrix has not only been very clear about the future of XenClient but has also been putting their money where their mouth is.  

Last year they bought the VERY BEST client hypervisor, Virtual Computer, and have since released new versions.  Not just for IT but also a very secure version that the govt is currently using, for all the right reasons ;)   They have also just released a tech preview of the upcoming version.   Not to mention the DesktopPlayer for Mac, which uses the same Synchronizer.

I can go on-and-on but but the bottom line is XenClient is not going away anytime soon or in the future …. ;)   Long Live XenClient! :)

Brian Madden wrote re: How do you pick an IT vendor to trust?
on Thu, Jul 25 2013 11:46 AM Link To This Comment

Oh man Doug I agree with you 100%!! In fact Citrix buying Virtual Computer was the reason that I listed XenClient is because Citrix built their own XenClient and started hyping how awesome it was. Then the bought Virtual Computer and killed their own XenClient and renamed Virtual Computer's product to "XenClient."

So again, in this case, if you went with the "safe" option (client hypervisor from big vendor), you were still rewarded with a product that ended up dead and having to migrate all your disk images, laptops, and management to a new product. D'oh!!

But, to be clear, yeah, the New XenClient rocks. It was a good move by them!!

Brian Dean wrote re: How do you pick an IT vendor to trust?
on Wed, Jul 31 2013 8:56 PM Link To This Comment

Good question, I think revenue of a provider is no measure when choosing a vendor but basing decisions on specialty of the provider is a better bet. Oracle's revenue is around $38 billion annually and most of that comes from database management, under this logic for example, Oracle also provides CRM software but Sales Forces ($3 billion annual revenue) would seem like a better option because they specialize in CRM and will be around for a long time and if some new technology makes them obsolete I would imagine that sales forces would be able to transition their customers in a way that minimizes the customers lose.

Oracle has a lot of capital to invest into VDI and DaaS (Desktop as a Service) environments and I feel that there is a lot of demand for such services in the market but the infrastructure does not exist, and service providers (telcos) are going to take some time to rise to a level where VDI and Daas can be deployed on a large scale.

Mark Lillywhite wrote re: How do you pick an IT vendor to trust?
on Thu, Aug 1 2013 4:57 AM Link To This Comment

I used to work for a larger software vendor, and the rule of thumb was - if a product didnt do $20m a year, it'll become the living dead - just enough dev to keep it alive, but no real progress. Obviously smaller vendors have a lower expectations, but for me the clue was always in

a) How long between releases & How many NEW features (as opposed to keeping up features) were in the release.

b) Is it a core product (look at the company history) or a 'Tick box' product to allow the vendor to do 'all you can eat' sales - thus protecting their core product (VMWare Horizon View anyone?)

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