Tune Out Vendor Noise

As an infrastructure manager I used to get annoyed at vendors who would tell me about products that were the best at solving problems I didn’t have. Some of those products solved problems that nobody has. I refer to this behavior as vendor noise, and it really frustrates me.

The industry as a whole seems to be becoming more sensitive to vendor claims (BTW, I have no data to back this claim!), but I still see an awful lot of vendors claiming that: “you need this feature”, rather than the outcome the feature delivers.

For an example in the consumer world consider the Apple MacBook Pro and its “Unibody Enclosure”. Amazing! You definitely need a frame built from materials found on fighter jets that can fit a big battery and keep the overall device structure rigid and robust.

Or do you?

Actually what I *need* in a laptop is a good battery life, lightweight for portability, and strong enough such that it doesn’t break if I bump it the wrong way.

So what just happened to me? Apple convinced me with their noise that I needed “features” that they had, and they mapped their features to needs that I could relate to (good battery, light weight, strong). If I went to another laptop vendor and asked for a Unibody enclosure because I need it, they would consider me a common sucker.

Funnily enough, this scenario happens in the enterprise IT world all the time. Many vendors convince people that they need features in a ploy to sell a product. IT professionals are forgetting that they only need the feature to address a deeper problem; a problem that can likely be addressed by different features as well.

So how do you know what’s real and what’s noise?MacBook Pro vs PowerBook G4 bis

It’s actually very simple, work out what you need before you speak to a vendor about features, then tell them. They may try to change your need to match their product, but if you’re conscious of this, you’ll survive the ordeal and you will very soon learn which of your vendors are partners and which are leeches.

In the context of storage: Do you need storage efficiency? What does storage efficiency mean to you? Low cost per usable GB? Low cost per IO per second? Low cost per TB per floor tile?

Avoid the noise!



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