Whittling IT down

Best-of-breed or a one-stop-shop IT solution? It's a conversation that refuses to go away.

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By  Administrator Published  June 6, 2007

Enterprise customers understand the business benefits that come from limiting the number of IT suppliers they work with. Has the technical supremacy that best-of-breed solutions claim to offer finally lost out to the need to reduce costs and complexity within enterprise IT? ACN chews the corporate IT cud with some major vendors in the Middle East market to find out more.

Lining up to offer their views on this thorny topic are Roger El-Tawil, channel and marketing director at communications solutions vendor Avaya's Middle East and North Africa operation; Mohamed Hamedi, CEO at Sphere Networks; Ivan Kraemer, regional sales and marketing director for HP ProCurve, and Ian Cochrane, the marketing manager at Citrix Middle East.

The concept of a one-stop-shop is a myth because there is no single vendor that can provide all of the applications that a successful enterprise will need.

While these are all strong companies in their own right, they also understand that interoperability, open standards and a best-of-breed approach in their specific solution areas are part and parcel of their success story to date.

ACN: Does the number of suppliers that they use within their IT systems concern enterprise customers? Is this something that is addressed during your sales cycle?

Roger El-Tawil: In the enterprise space, customers need open technologies and open standards to support their business needs - as the organisation grows, open architectures are needed to grow quickly, select the best technology available, and integrate with other solution. Getting locked in with a single vendor can seriously harm a growing enterprise - an open, multi-vendor strategy is critical.

Mohamed Hamedi: We have not seen an obstacle as such, but in general customers from a support perspective would always prefer a single source. From a technology point-of-view, customers are demanding standards support from their vendors, and getting to understand that no one single vendor can be the best at everything.

Ivan Kraemer: Yes, certainly all purchasing departments prefer to limit their number of suppliers but it is all about the right balance to get the best ROI and TCO. There is no such thing as a one-stop-shop vendor and, therefore, customers have to work with integrators who combine the best fit technology for the specific customer solution, if they don't want to be dealing with multiple vendors.

Ian Cochrane: This is, and will continue to be, a concern for customers. They have to balance choosing what they think are best-of-breed products for their needs, which may involve having the complexity of managing a multitude of suppliers, against a compromise ‘one-for-all' solution. This is where the value of independent analysts comes in.

ACN: Does interoperability and integration remain an issue within the enterprise IT space, especially in the Middle East?

RT: Interoperability is really only an issue with enterprises that have already gone down the single-vendor route because they feel the pain of that choice and ultimately adopt a multi-vendor strategy.

MH: There is a strong trend among most vendors to move away from proprietary technology and adhere to standards such as those set by IEEE. This movement, I believe, is mainly driven by customers. The customer today is much more aware and educated about what they need and is less likely to be herded and locked in by the vendor.

IK: This is a diminishing problem as standards are being driven by customer needs themselves and, therefore, today it is simply about ensuring the vendors they work with comply with standards. Good integrators would ensure the interoperability by virtue of their experience in providing such solutions.

IC: At Citrix, we are fortunate that our customers don't see this with the approach we take in our application delivery model.

ACN: With the advent of increased interaction and linkage between front-end and back-end systems, do one-stop-shop suppliers make sense?

RT: The concept of a one-stop shop is a myth because there is no single vendor that can provide all of the applications that a successful enterprise will need.

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