Posted by: Carrie Higbie
Moron Vendors, Purchasing decisions
Manny is a pseudonym, no real people named Manny were harmed in the writing of this article. This is part one, part two to follow.
When I was running large data centers, one thing that shocked me was that everyone that came in to pitch me something didn’t necessarily have my best interest at heart. This was a crushing lesson to a trusting person. OK, I wasn’t that naive, but it still amazes me the bill of goods that some companies try to push on other companies. As more companies look to outsource at least some services, it is important to have a balanced scorecard to keep from falling into some traps that either less than honorable, or merely uneducated people try to sell as finished goods.
“Green” experts. Let’s be honest, we all learned to spell that word very early in our academic lives. That doesn’t make us an expert on greening technologies. Vendors that have solutions in this space tend to try to make this a one size fits all scenario. Each data center ecosystem is different. Online configurators are cool toys, but if you don’t understand the end result, regardless of who does the input, you probably are going to buy capacity you don’t need. Even worse, is that many of the consultants get “finders fees” for positioning the products that they charge you as a company for “designing.” A bit of a double dip!
Fix- get the original equipment manufacturer involved early! Then if you want to hire someone to implement the solution, you will at least know what you are, in fact, buying. Also, check references. I don’t mean the references that either the vendor or the original equipment manufacturer hand out on resumes. Do some networking and find out others that have had the technology in use for a while, and ask them how well it’s working. Combing through old press releases is a great way to do this. Support a year down the road is just as important as support day one. Find out if the items really provided the savings stated.
FAKE ROI/TCO calculations. It’s only a savings if you would have really had that expense to begin with! It’s funny to see some of the line items listed as savings with some of the stuff out there. I know I work for a cabling company, but this is a good example. This product will save you XX% on your cabling infrastructure. This would be true if you ignore the fact that you are buying proprietary cables to connect equipment from the active vendor. Isn’t that a cable? In most cases that cable is more expensive anyway! What they are really saying is that it will save on someone else’s cabling. If you price an aftermarket cable, it is less, but it may not work. The same scenarios hold true for about anything in the data center. A switch may be low in power, but if the corresponding network interface card isn’t you negate any savings.
FIX: Look at all of the marketing calculations and weed out the ones that actually apply to your data center. Don’t stop at just that piece of equipment either. You have to look at what that technology will do to all of your data center ecosystems.
If you don’t do ……. it will void your warranty. I hear this probably more than anything else. If you hear that statement, it’s pretty safe to say, “Run Forrest, Run!” I have worked with many end users that get this statement. If you actually read the warranty, however, that language doesn’t exist. Recently an end user I know was told that if they didn’t buy a certain cabinet, the equipment warranty would be void, but if they used that equipment company’s cabinet, there would be no problem. What, you ask, did the warranty really say? That the equipment has to operate under 85 degrees. Even if they used that particular vendor’s cabinet, there is no guaranty that the operating temperatures would be met without looking at the cooling in the room. However, the cabinet in question was 3times the price of other cabinets on the market with the same or greater cooling features.
FIX: Go up the food chain. If a local person is telling you a sweeping statement like that, there isn’t always an honest motive. Read the warranty! Some are overly strict which is another warning flag, but know the language. There are many options these days. A good vendor will work with you to provide a workable solution that is flexible. Don’t necessarily take these statements at face value. Call the corporate office and see if they are real. It may be more about increasing a price tag than about a real fact.