Vendor Fandom

Why is it that people are so god damn in love with their favorite vendors? Is advertising to blame? Are geeks inherently just stubborn motherfuckers? Probably. Let’s do a quick dive into this issue.

At work, i often find that people are stuck with one brand, one OS or one technological solution for one reason or another. I’m pretty much agnostic. I like to have the solution that works best for the problem. There are people at every company (i’m willing to wager) who are in a position to make decisions, and who make those decisions based purely on “what they think is right”. Objectivity is simply not on the menu. Shit, i know a few people myself.

Sure, for like random Joe-Bob on the corner you can use your own biased opinion to say “Go out and buy X, it’s good”. But when you are working in a corporate environment, your own opinion can weigh in, but your personal fandom toward a specific solution or vendor, which are usually unfounded, should not be a deciding factor.

I’m guilty as charged: I used to think Cisco is the go-to solution for anything network related. Or EMC for storage solutions. What we should do is, look at the problem at hand: what does the client need done, and what’s the budget. Then look at the solutions available using those as parameters. Then use past experience, peer reviews and other metrics to come to a more final conclusion. The process is often shortened to “I like Solaris, so we’ll offer a Solaris based solution”, even if it is not the best, performance- or feature-wise. The client comes to you, expecting that you have the necessary know-how to bring them the best solution. After all, that’s why they came to you, and didn’t do it themselves. So when you come up with your solution, and the client doesn’t know better, he’ll go for the solution because you said so. The question remains: Why did you say so?

A lot of other things factor in of course. How will the devices / solutions be supported? Does the service provider have the necessary people with the needed know-how to use the equipment being sold? Is it the most cost-effective solution, while still providing the minimum requirement? Decisionmaking is a process that can be very personified. One guy gives the go-ahead. He might be the IT-manager, or some senior sysadmin that people trust. I say that in most cases that trust should be evaluated. Especially the people who have been in the IT industry a long time tend to get really bogged down with what they like, discarding all other metrics when they make decisions. They are the guys who get the job done, sure, but what are the long-term costs of their input?

The other option is perhaps worse, where decisionmaking becomes this huge process, involving dozens of people, meetings, commitees, etc. But a simple review of what is being done, before someone hits the “Order!” or “Sell!” button could save the service provider and the client from a lot of trouble down the line.

The problem lies perhaps in organizational structure. The sales guys want to sell, because their salary is dependant on the deals the close. They don’t have the technical knowhow. They ask the technical guys. The technical guys tend to be biased for the wrong reasons. In internal processes, the final go-ahead comes from the IT-manager, or equivalent person, who can overrule or veto any suggestion or decision made further down the line. Often to the dismay of everyone else. He’s not the one who has to support the devices or products down the line. He just gives the final go-ahead.

Ok this is a very disorganized post, i realize this. But you may be able to dig out somewhat of a point that i’m trying to get across here. Pay attention to the decisions around you, and at least sometimes stop and ask why something is being done. Our industry is in one giant hurry to go somewhere, so perhaps stopping every now and then wouldn’t be such a bad idea?

 

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