In the industry, you hear the term, “Best of Breed” thrown around. What this implies is that in a system, no vendor has a single solution that excels everywhere in the system – so you need to assemble parts like a cooking recipe to get the best.
One may see VARs (Value Added Resellers), System Integrators, and even vendors with broad product portfolios sell best-of-breed solutions. Symantec has multiple backup products, EMC has multiple backup products, EMC has multiple storage arrays running different operating systems, IBM has multiple storage arrays with different operating systems.
The reason for this is that: consumers have different preferences and those preferences could be either product specific or vendor specific. As a consumer, I may want different feature functionality from my products, I may want my network routing from one vendor, my firewalls from another, and my WAN accelerators from another. Or, as a consumer, I may want it all from one vendor so that I have one company rep to complain to and I’m not stuck between 2 vendors pointing their fingers at one another.
With best of breed, the responsibility is on the purchaser to make it all work. Unless the purchaser is buying from a vendor (VAR, System Integrator, etc.) who is going to make it all interoperate (and that still doesn’t address the long term maintenance), the purchaser lacks that single contact – that “one throat to choke”.
Companies know this, which is why larger companies will want to partner with a particular product vendor or OEM (brand the equipment as their own) or actually provide competing products.
I mentioned Symantec earlier. Symantec for years offered both BackupExec and NetBackup. Why would they do that? Some companies would need the full enterprise features of NetBackup and would accept the complexity. Others want a simpler use and not need the enterprise features, so they could go with BackupExec.
To be clear, these are not the same product with one with fewer licenses & features. These are two separate products which would require two different command sets. I don’t mean to pick on Symantec as many other companies do this as well – it was just that they came to mind first.
When companies purchase SAN storage arrays, if they use Brocade for their networking, they would purchase the Brocade FibreChannel switches from their array vendor. Brocade sees no benefit in just selling switches, they would rather use the storage array vendors as their channel. Meanwhile, the array vendors front end the selling of the switches and if the purchaser has an issue whether with the array or the storage, they can talk directly with the array vendor. The “one throat to choke”.
Vendor relations can be very painful when one considers all the elements – sales, support contract maintenance, tech support, and upgrade planning. That doesn’t sound too painful for one vendor, but when you consider that there are multiple hardware vendors and multiple software vendors – it can be very time consuming.
The caveat here is would you rather do less vendor relations or have a better mix of products?
Considering the mix of products, you do have to consider the interoperability and compatibility issues.
Each vendor is going to have their own strengths and weaknesses.
Is the premium Steakhouse going to do the same fantastic job on fish that they do on steak – when they sell 10x the number of steaks? Or vice versa for the fish restaurant with steaks?
Companies that purchase other companies to fill or supplement product portfolio holes will inevitably have interoperability issues with their other products. The benefit is that they are responsible and you aren’t. The drawback is that they might not be completely interoperable.
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