Want to make friends with the CIO? Get beyond the slogans

A recent exercise confirms what many have long suspected — vendors often fail to address customers' underlying problems.
Written by Manek Dubash, Contributor

Suppose you're a CIO with multiple datacentres, lots of applications, server sprawl, high energy and space utilisation, low application performance, and consequent high capex and opex.

If you then asked a vendor for a set of solutions to your problems, you might expect them to be partisan in their approach. If you get lucky, you could expect them to be more nuanced.

Sadly, when this precise exercise was tried at the recent NetEvents symposium in Miami, many of the vendors, when asked for solutions to a theoretical set of CIO-level problems, were depressingly on-message from their companies' rather than the potential customer's point of view.

Four network vendors gave a two-minute pitch on how they would fix the problem.

If there was a common theme, it was that the CIO needed to do server virtualisation first — as long as he or she wasn't planning to push the problem into the cloud, where, so it would seem, you have just recreated the problem but on someone else's infrastructure and with added remoteness. Not smart.

The conference session ended with two analysts, Nav Chander from IDC and Peter ffoulkes of TheInfoPro, summing up the vendors' offerings. Their verdict was that most vendors' answers were not clear, and that not all the problems had been addressed.

To be fair, given the limitations of a 50-minute conference session, the pretend CIO could provide few real-world details but vendors need to better at getting to grips with the underlying problem rather than presenting a generic solution if they are to win a CIO's trust.

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