With a number of common misconceptions surrounding the relationship between vendors and integration partners, our latest blog cuts through the clutter to explore how customers can distil the most value.
IT network procurement is a vast and complicated minefield that has claimed the spirit and endeavour of many an IT professional. The indirect nature of the majority of major network providers means that as a buyer you are evaluating the merits of both the technology vendor and the implementation partner.
Some procurements are vendor led; the partner introduced at a late stage simply to see through delivery, some are partner led; the implementation partner advising on best of breed solutions and conversely introducing the vendor. Truth be told, both are vital in ensuring the successful procurement and implementation of any given project and both have their own disparate roles to play. Both do not, however, seem to have been attributed with the same recognition of value in the procurement process.
The underlying technology on which solutions are built is of course of huge importance. The major network vendors have now been around for three decades and their technology continues to evolve and improve. Although ostensibly these products do much the same, the way in which they do so can be dramatically different, one vendor’s technology therefore potentially being far more suitable to any given environment than another. The many different ‘bells and whistles’ of these products and areas of strength and weakness inherent in vendor portfolios makes for an interesting and sometimes very challenging side by side comparison. In many cases it is this technology comparison that constitutes the main body of work associated with a network procurement, less time, effort and ultimately importance is attributed to another very necessary comparison, that of the implementation partners.
The procurement decision cannot and should not be based purely on the vendor alone. It is the implementation partner that will be just as crucial to the continued success of the project. It will be the partner that stands by your side the day of go live and the partner that picks up the phone when something goes wrong. With that in mind the procurement process and subsequent evaluation becomes very much a package deal. Which combined vendor/partner consortium will offer the best mix of technology, expertise, experience and credibility?
The partner’s expertise becomes invaluable when we get to, for lack of a better phrase, the nitty- gritty of the project. The utopian networks envisaged by the vendor exist only on their datasheets and marketing material, in practise each individual deployment is unique, represents a number of technical challenges, and requires continued configuration and know-how from the partner organisation, bridging the gap between the abstracted mind-set of the vendor and the complex networks that we build everyday in the real world.
Choosing a partner that has a long-standing relationship with a small number of technology vendors is a sure–fire way to find genuine proficiency. Rather than an organisation that simply garners as many accreditations as possible look for the partner that has a proven track record of implementation and innovation with the vendor technology in question. As the government encourages the public sector in particular to embrace the SME market the role of the relatively small but acutely knowledgeable partner organisation is growing in importance and such organisations are becoming vastly more successful within the public sector as a result.
Choosing the right technology for your organisation is important, but choosing the right partner for your organisation is equally as vital. Network procurements should represent a 50/50 split in due diligence, determining the best technology platform to utilise and finding the right partner to implement. By leveraging both the platform that best fits the needs of your organisation and the partner most capable to deliver that platform; you go a long way in guaranteeing a smooth and seamless new project delivery.