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

MH: Absolutely not, many large and complex environments around the world use a variety of systems and solutions from many different vendors. The fact of the matter is that interoperability is easy for the vendor if they want it to be. Unfortunately, profit is the driver behind whatever a vendor proposes.

IK: As there are no one-stop-shop vendors in existence, the only way customers can achieve a single supplier goal is through an integrator. The integrator will face the issue of multiple vendors but there is no way around it if they want to provide a complete IT solution to customers.

IC: I have to say that this is where true added value resellers/integrators have their greatest added benefit. They can bring to their customers their experience on the most successful solutions they have experienced to meet particular customers' requirements. I would say that customers have to choose their trusted advisor carefully.

ACN: Where do the benefits of consolidating IT needs with one supplier end? When are the benefits of having ‘one throat to choke' outweighed by the disadvantages of having ‘all your eggs in one basket'?

RT: While consolidating with one supplier might seem like it makes life easier for an enterprise, the reality is that technology advances so rapidly that one supplier cannot have the scope and bandwidth to provide best-of-breed solutions and applications in all of the required areas. This is an approach that results in compromise and challenges for the business.

MH: There are many risks in a single supplier, besides the obvious ones. One key one that has been highlighted in the news is security.

By basing the whole security system on a single supplier, if that supplier has a vulnerability then your whole enterprise is comprised. It really goes back to nature - spreading the gene pool assures survival. Mother Nature has been doing this for ages.

IK: Again, there is no ‘one supplier' type of vendor on earth today. Purchasing through a single integrator or multiple integrators is measured purely on the ability of the integrator. If you have a good integrator that can do it all then why look for multiple integrators?

IC: This is a typical ‘how long is a piece of string' question. Let's split the ‘supplier' into ‘supplier' and ‘product vendor'. Like I said before, working with resellers and integrators can be very beneficial but you need to take the time to consider working with which one, or ones, will have the most positive effect on your business.

ACN: Do you believe that the largest vendors are capable of wielding pressure on enterprises to consolidate their IT purchases and increase share of wallet?

RT: We do see some bullying tactics at times by the larger vendors, but the vast majority of enterprises realise that they need the best solution for their business requirements and that guides their decision-making.

MH: I think large multinationals use their weight to gain an unfair advantage, by indirectly intimidating the customer and spreading FUD - fear, uncertainty and doubt - they can scare the customer into going with a single source. I believe this tactic has been successfully used in the Middle East and less so in Europe and America. The tactic relies on the customer's lack of knowledge and fear of failure - the attitude of having a scapegoat in case things go bad.

IK: It could be possible only in respect to some customers, and specific to their specific requirements at that one point in time. Over the period of the IT lifecycle, the requirements are too varied for one vendor to handle and, therefore, wield pressure. Consolidation and share of wallet can play a role, which can benefit or backfire if a vendor is perceived as using these tactics, and should be managed really carefully with both sides' ROI in mind.

IC: It is not just the largest IT vendors that are driving the consolidation message. If we include IT simplification and flexibility, we find that customers themselves are key drivers here, as they need to have IT supporting their business competitiveness and not just being a cost centre. Importantly, it's not just vendor and supplier consolidation that is important today, but the whole principle of IT consolidation.

ACN: How important is it for the industry to have choice in terms of supplier selection?

RT: Of course choice is important for customers and there is every flavour and variety of technology now available throughout the MENA region. The differentiator between vendors then becomes industry knowledge, experience in the region, and the ability to implement and train staff on the solution.

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