Which networking vendors do you trust?

Who do you trust to supply hardware and services for your corporate voice and data networks?

commentary Picking vendors to supply hardware and services for corporate voice and data networks is certainly no easy task.

Renai LeMay, ZDNet Australia
On the one hand you've got giants like Cisco, which has a huge market share and a reputation for excellent hardware and customer service.

However most IT bosses your writer has spoken to would agree Cisco's prices are a little steep.

For example, Manchester Unity CIO David Musgrave instead picked Alcatel for his company's new IP telephony rollout.

"Cisco was far too expensive ... also the problem with Cisco was that integrating a call centre solution with it was going to be difficult," he told your writer late last year.

The common perception is that Chinese vendors like Huawei are at the other end of the price scale, with vendors like 3Com, Nortel, Alcatel, Ericsson, Hewlett-Packard's Procurve division and even Dell sitting somewhere in the middle.

It's hard to say in general what sort of reputation each vendor in this group has at the moment, but most IT managers have a personal favourite.

Your writer has seen all of these vendors achieving recent wins in the Australian market, particularly in their individual areas of strength.

For example 3Com subsidiary TippingPoint gives the vendor a strong presence in the security market.

Voice specialists NEC, Avaya, Mitel and even Zultys are also throwing their weight around at the moment, taking chunks of the burgeoning IP telephony market.

When it comes down to it, IT bosses obviously must closely examine their own needs and match them up with vendor solutions -- there is no best fit for everyone.

But one important factor is trust.

When aged care specialist Hammond Care Group recently went shopping for a new IP telephony system, the group's chief technology consultant Bruce Coller needed to find a vendor that understood his needs and wasn't just trying to make a sale.

Eventually deciding on Cisco, he said the heavyweight cared about his sector.

"Cisco are also taking a very proactive role in aged care at the moment, and provision of services," he said.

"Clearly they want to build their business, but they also have a very strong view on making a difference in aged care."

"They have assigned dedicated people to aged care, and that's the sort of thing I've been looking for; a strong commitment."

Coller's comments are particularly appropriate when viewed in light of a recent survey on vendor sales techniques from research group Ovum.

After interviewing those in control of IT budgets at 40 companies in Europe, the USA and Australia, Ovum came to the conclusion that users wanted more honesty and transparency from vendors.

"Respect for ethical standards was an important factor in how vendors were viewed by the majority of the end users," the research company said in a statement.

Which vendors do you trust, and which ones have given you the run around in the past? Drop me a line directly at renai.lemay@zdnet.com.au or post some feedback below.

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