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Analysis of Cisco case study - who should take credit for cost reductions

Should case studies be added to the phrase "Lies, damn lies and statistics?"

Recently a friend called my attention to Truth in Analysis: Is UCS Really a Money Saver? by Dan Busby. I'm sorry that I didn't find this sooner. It is clear that readers need to closely examine customer case studies as they would any other marketing piece offered by a supplier.

What Dan Busby had to say about Cisco's Slumberland case study

Dan examined a then-recent Cisco case study. In this study, Cisco presented that the customer, Slumberland, experienced a sizable reduction in cost when it moved workloads onto Cisco UCS configuration. and appeared to take credit for that dramatic improvement.

Dan analyzed the customer profile and came to a different conclusion - that the cost reduction came from moving from physical systems to virtual servers running on fewer, but faster systems. He identified the primary reduction in costs came from reducing the cost of support rather than anything Cisco had done.

He went so far as to suggest that this really should have been used to demonstrate savings that could be achieved through the use of Microsoft's Hyper-V virtual machine software.

Snapshot analysis

Reading the analysis of Cisco's case study identified two things that we all should consider:
  1. Increasingly suppliers put their analysis and commentary of competitors' statements up on their websites as blog posts. I guess they presume that decision makers, analysts and journalists come to their websites on a daily basis to find these interesting tidbits. Decision makers are too busy to spend all of their time reading various suppliers' websites.
  2. It is clear that case studies deserve careful analysis rather than simply a quick read.  The reader needs to really understand the following things:

  • Is this case study relevant to them or can they simply ignore it as interesting, but not useful?
  • Are the real causes discussed or is the sponsor of the profile taking credit for what others have done?