Unlike traditional industry analysts firms RedMonk tracks adoption, rather than sales, of technology by talking to the people that deploy it. The CIO is always the last to know so we talk to practioners instead. We talk to the make-side, the makers and doers, the hackers and sysadmins that just get stuff done. Driven by Open Source and Cloud with their lower barriers to entry, sales and platform adoption are increasingly decoupled.
Yesterday in a post about Zend’s new enterprise PHP server Stephen my business partner summed up the tragedy of enterprise software sales so well I thought to myself I really need to reiterate it.
Enterprises I worked with in a systems integration capacity would do the traditional dog and pony show, having vendors come in and pitting them against each other in bakeoff death matches which were guaranteed to be irrelevant to the actual project needs and unlikely to reveal anything more than the relative strength of the sales engineers in question. On this flawed process hung the technical fortunes of many an IT shop, so important was this platform.
I knew I wanted to use the quote, but in what context? Luckily Michael Krigsman offered up just the thing, in this post, Ugly Enterprise Software tactics, which I came across this morning.
I believe selling useless licenses to locked-in customers crosses the line of unethical behavior. Sales people who perpetuate this crap should lose their job.
Why don’t you say what you really think, Michael? His post was based on thoughts from my esteemed colleague/competitor Ray Wang at Forrester who says stop selling products that clients don’t need. Ray points to some tactics vendors use.
Here is the bottom line. We already thought vendor sales tactics were aggressive in a market that was growing for pretty much everyone – so what about now, in a downturn? Frankly things are worse now. Maintenance fees are hiking while customer profits are disappearing. Aggressive tactics are the norm.
In order to better fight their corner enterprises need to be smarter and more aggressive themselves. They should:
1. Pay more attention to the people that actually do the work. Don’t buy software that your developers have no intention of using. Make sure architects are listening to developers.
2. Consider offload options:
- application server – if you’re running a Java workload does it really require the quality of service that a WebLogic offers? If not why not look at Glassfish, say, or Apache Tomcat.
- database- not all data are equal. That being the case put data in the most appropriate place. If it just needs to be thrown in a bucket of bits then consider MySQL or a file system rather than your “enterprise standard relational database”
- cloud- its other there. take advantage of it, especially for non transactional workloads.
Use open source and cloud as personal trainers for proprietary software. Use alternatives to snap back if the salespeople try and bullshit you.
Focus more on work and less on dog and pony shows. If its going to take 18 months to decide what platform to adopt you’re doing it wrong.
disclosure: after a tweet from @arungupta I realise this post definitely needs some disclosure, given the enterprise recommendations at the end. Oracle is not a client, but advice about application server offload applies just as much to WebSphere (IBM is a client). Sun is a client – reasons to consider Glassfish are that its somewhat simpler than competitive app servers and SOA stacks, and of course its open source. It offers less functionality, but that’s not always a bad thing. The key point is that not all workloads are equal, or should be treated as such. Triage your workloads, and offload those than don’t need the bells and whistles.