"Best of Breed" or "Single Throat to Choke"; this seems to be the argument that is getting a lot of play today. Are "supervendors" going to die out because they will buy up competition and stifle innovation, or because they lock clients into technical environments where they can no longer be competitive? And exactly when did you stop beating your wife, Mr. Supervendor?
As I've talked about various different converged infrastructure platforms over the last year, there are two sets of responses most prevalent in every conversation, both online and in real life. One set is the "Why would I want to be locked in" group .These tend to be the very techy type IT guys; they like looking for technology solutions to their problems and they want the freedom to find a solution anywhere in the technical universe.
They view the single vendor solution as more of a problem waiting to happen, rather than as a solution to their needs, artificially limiting the potential field of solution candidates for the sake of some imaginary overall benefit. In a way, these folks are actually being somewhat shortsighted; they are letting the potential of not being able to find a best of breed solution somewhere down the line color their opinion more than it probably should, to the point that the concept of a converged infrastructure annoys them. And this isn't to imply that they aren't correct and that there will be greater business benefit to a broader variety of choices; there just isn't any way to guarantee that.
The other group is the one that immediately goes to value. They believe that the single vendor solution will mean that the vendor will be able to make significant price cuts across the board, when compared to buying individual or packaged solutions from a mix of vendors. And that this value proposition will be a sufficiently compelling reason to select a vendor that does a great job with part of the solution, but just a good, or acceptable job with the rest. And, of course, that single throat to choke when service and support are required.
Different business models will work well with different technical vendor responses. I don't believe that the acquisition spree is going to stifle innovation, especially since I still talk to start-ups to whom the exit plan is to get their neat new tech purchased by one of the big players.
There's a real simple answer to these questions, though. Let the market decide.
More: The Supervendor Debate
- Salesforce.com’s Benioff unplugged: Supervendors suck
- IT supervendors: They can buy innovation, but can’t maintain it
- Tech mergers: Are the giants just fighting the last war?